TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to set aside more money for the state’s migrant relocation program, according to his budget plan released Wednesday.
DeSantis unveiled The “Framework for Freedom”, a $114.8 billion state budget plan or the coming fiscal year that is aimed at “building a robust economy, safeguarding students’, parents’, and teachers’ rights; restoring our environment; and maintaining healthy reserves to respond to natural disasters.”
The budget proposal includes $12 million to continue a program that transports “unauthorized aliens” out of the state, the same amount set aside for the program last year.
“The Framework for Freedom Budget includes $12 million to continue implementation of the Governor’s initiative to protect Floridians against the harms resulting from illegal immigration by facilitating the transport of unauthorized aliens,” the proposal says.
Last year, DeSantis arranged a pair of chartered flights transporting 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. The only time the migrants were physically in Florida was when they made a brief stop at a Crestview airport. Those transported through the relocation program have since filed a class-action lawsuit against the governor and state officials.
Multiple questions about the governor’s migrant relocation program remain unanswered, but DeSantis has called it a “deterrent” to control migration, which he says is more effective than the Biden Administration’s immigration and border security policies.
“People are sick of having an open border with no rule of law in this country,” DeSantis said. “We can sit here and do nothing about it, or we can stand up and say whatever tools we have at our disposal, we are going to use.”
DeSantis and the state of Florida filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden and the federal government, alleging that millions of people had crossed the border illegally over the past two years, during his presidency. On multiple, DeSantis has placed the blame on the policies enacted during Biden’s term as president.
“It’s an abdication of duty to enforce the law. It’s also caused a lot of harms to communities who have to deal with taxpayer benefits, all of these other things,” DeSantis continued. “Criminal aliens, of course the narcotics has been incredible. It’s not just this, of course that got a lot of press. We have a task force to do interdictions like in the Panhandle, and actually brought cases in federal court.”
“Any way we can do to make an impact on this issue, we’re going to do,” DeSantis added. “Don’t let anyone tell you that border is only affecting the people that are on the Rio Grande Valley. That border is affecting communities all across this country, just look at the number of fentanyl deaths that we’ve seen over the last two years.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) reintroduced the END FENTAYL Act, which is aimed at helping Border Patrol agents combat drug smuggling.
Like DeSantis, Scott criticized the federal government’s current border security policies.
“For too long, the crushing heartbreak felt from losing a loved one to a drug overdose, and the opioids that cause them, have plagued American families. This epidemic, fueled by the massive amounts of fentanyl flowing illegally over our southern border into our communities, has only grown worse under Joe Biden’s failed open border policies,” Scott said in a statement. “Every life taken by an accidental drug overdose is a preventable tragedy and we must do everything in our power to stop them.”