On Friday, the Florida legislature approved a bill that broadens the scope of a program used for transporting migrants to cities and states governed by Democrats.
With the passing of this bill, Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, now has the authority to relocate migrants from any state in the nation, not just within the boundaries of Florida.
Expansion of the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program
The recent bill officially establishes the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program, expanding upon a program initiated by Governor DeSantis last year.
The program gives government officials the ability to transport migrants to locations in states with liberal policies known as “sanctuary cities.”
Yesterday the Florida legislature cleared the way for the DeSantis administration to organize more migrant flights.
In a Special Session – the state leg passed a bill creating the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program and allocating $10 mill for the flights.
— Jay O'Brien (@jayobtv) February 11, 2023
This recent action signifies that Governor DeSantis is unwavering in his approach to handling migrants, despite criticism. Supporters on the conservative side view the program as a crucial means of bringing attention to the ongoing border situation in the United States.
During a legislative debate on Thursday, Republican state Rep. John Snyder defended the program as being “compassionate.” It provides migrants with the option of relocating to other parts of the nation via a complimentary, private flight.
However, the expansion of the program has elicited strong objections from Democrats and human rights proponents, who have likened it to human trafficking. During Thursday’s legislative discussion, Democratic lawmakers also questioned the use of Florida taxpayer funds to transfer migrants from other states.
The bill was approved by the Republican-controlled legislative branches along partisan lines and now awaits Governor DeSantis’ signature. Jeremy Redfern, a representative for DeSantis, stated the governor will thoroughly examine the bill once it reaches its final form before determining its merits.
State legislators plan to consider a bill that would build on DeSantis’ executive order by creating an “Unauthorized Alien Transport Program" as part of an effort “to respond to the influx of migrants landing in the Florida Keys.” https://t.co/AlgWxd0EEh
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 4, 2023
Political Reactions and Criticisms Toward the Program
In September, Governor DeSantis arranged for two aircraft carrying 49 migrants from Texas to be flown to Martha’s Vineyard. He declared the financial resources for this operation were drawn from his most recent budget allocation.
This decision faced intense criticism from Democratic leaders and immigration advocates, who supported many of the migrants in filing a lawsuit against Governor DeSantis and other state officials, claiming that they were misled for political purposes.
Some of the migrants who were relocated reported they were not fully informed about their destination beforehand.
A Democratic senator at the state level also initiated legal action against Governor DeSantis, alleging the relocations were in violation of state law, as the migrants were being transferred from another state, rather than from Florida.
The recent legislation would rectify this issue by giving Florida officials the authority to transport migrants from any location in the country. This amendment could potentially render the lawsuit null and void.
Additionally, the recent bill provides authorization for the governor’s administration to implement the expanded program by awarding contracts to companies that will be responsible for executing it.