Migrants from Texas seen boarding plane to Martha’s Vineyard, Fla. paid for more flights

(As originally published with bells and whistles, Tue, October 18th 2022, 1:21 PM EDT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS12) — The office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis released video showing dozens of migrants lined up on a runway before being flown to Martha’s Vineyard, while the governor’s spokesperson said the flight won’t be the last.

The video from Sept. 14 includes a plane carrying 48 migrants taking off in the Panhandle.

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The people on board came from San Antonio, Texas. They made the stop in Crestview, Okaloosa County, and were taken to Massachusetts. DeSantis has said the migrants wanted to come to Florida.

Meanwhile, documents released Friday by the Florida Department of Transportation showed the state paid nearly $1 million to arrange two other sets of flights, carrying about 100 migrants, to Delaware and Illinois.

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Those flights were supposed to happen before Oct. 3 but were postponed. The state’s contractor extended the window for the trips until Dec. 1.

DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said the reason was the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

The September flights carrying mostly Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard came without warning. Local officials were not told in advance.

RELATED: Documents: Florida migrant transport planning began in July
RELATED: Treasury probing Florida Gov. DeSantis’ migrant flights

DeSantis claimed responsibility as part of a campaign to focus attention on what he has called the Biden administration’s failed border policies.

Migrants flown from San Antonio, to the Florida Panhandle, and then Martha’s Vineyard, Sept. 14, 2022. (Fla. Office of the Governor via CNN Newsource)

The flights expand on bus trips from other states to Democratic strongholds.

The state legislature had approved $12 million to relocate people in the U.S. illegally from Florida. The Associated Press reports the money came from interest earned from American Rescue Plan money given to the state by the federal government.

That had Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., request a Treasury Department investigation into whether the state improperly used pandemic aid. Last week, its inspector general wrote back to Markey, saying his office had audit work planned on “recipients’ compliance with eligible use guidance,” since the recovery funds program has strict requirements on how the money can be spent.

Documents indicated the state paid Destin-based Vertol Systems Co. $1.56 million.

RELATED: Lawsuit filed against DeSantis; local attorney says it’s likely to fail
RELATED: Legal expert says migrant lawsuit could cost DeSantis millions; criminal charges possible

The flights to Martha’s Vineyard flight has spawned lawsuits accusing DeSantis and the state DOT of lying to the migrants to get them to agree to the flights.


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