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DeSantis: Migrant Flights North Might Re-start In December

Florida officials plan to continue transporting migrants to Northern states to protest federal border policies and might restart flights by December, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis. Florida hasn’t flown more migrants since it chartered two planes to send 49 people from Texas to Martha's Vineyard on Sept. 14, the Wall Street Journal reports. DeSantis has said the flights were intended to spread the burden of caring for migrants who enter the U.S. illegally to places where more officials support Biden administration immigration policies. DeSantis’s communications director, Taryn Fenske, said the migrant transport campaign is still in place. The contractor that arranged the previous flights, Vertol Systems Co. Inc., indicated more trips might occur later this year. “While Florida has had all hands on deck responding to the catastrophic Hurricane Ian, the immigration relocation program remains active,” she said. Vertol Chief Executive James Montgomerie proposed in a letter to Florida’s transportation department this month that his company arrange to transport about 100 migrants who entered the U.S. illegally to Delaware, Illinois or other states by Dec. 1. The letter, released as part of a public-records request, was sent after Hurricane Ian caused billions of dollars of damage in Florida and killed at least 114 people. Florida has paid Vertol $950,000 for the proposed additional flights, on top of $615,000 for the flights to Massachusetts. Florida’s program is the most contentious of several Republican-led efforts to send migrants from border regions to northern states. In the last year, Florida has transported a small fraction of its thousands of migrants through chartered buses from Texas and Arizona. Democrats and immigrant-rights groups have condemned Florida’s flights, calling them a political stunt, while Republicans and advocates for tighter border control say the flights have brought attention to the strains Southern states face from an influx of unauthorized migrants. In late September, authorities in Delaware were prepared to receive a flight of migrants at an airport in Rehoboth Beach but none arrived.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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