May 22, 2024
Two Florida lawmakers filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis's administration of violating regulations on immigrants' transportation.

Two Florida lawmakers filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration of violating regulations on immigrants’ transportation.

State Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Democratic lawmaker representing Miami, and state Sen. Lauren Book, the Democratic minority leader, claim in their lawsuit that the immigrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard weren’t originally in Florida, which disqualifies them from the state funds that provide transportation to “unauthorized aliens.” The budget, which initially set aside $12 million toward transportation after being signed by DeSantis in June, clarifies that the transportation funds must be used to get immigrants “out of Florida.”

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis are both listed as defendants in the lawsuit in Leon County’s Second Judicial Circuit Court. Perdue was appointed by DeSantis, and Patronis is an elected official.

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“Now that the law that [Pizzo and Book] voted for is being implemented, and shedding light on the border crisis, Pizzo and Book have gone to their same old handbook, and hired a Democratic operative attorney to go after the executive branch for following the law,” Patronis’s spokesman Frank Collins tweeted. “We are in receipt of the filing and we are currently exploring options for sanction and/or countersuit measures.”

The nearly 50 immigrants DeSantis transported to Martha’s Vineyard came from Texas, roughly 700 miles from Florida’s most western border. At the time, the governor claimed he was stopping the immigration problem at the source. These immigrants are also suing DeSantis for transporting them under allegedly false pretenses.

Florida’s budget also requires two quotes from transportation companies before engaging in the transport of immigrants, but according to the lawsuit, no quotes were provided prior to the transportation of immigrants to the vacation town in Massachusetts.

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An obtained record of the budget showed that $615,000 was paid by the Florida Department of Transportation on Sept. 8 to aviation company Vertol Systems, followed by a $950,000 payment on Sept. 16.

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