Gov. Ron DeSantis used a contractor to help identify a group of Venezuelan migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
“We want to voluntarily transport away from Florida so that we don’t have to bear the cost, and there’s a vendor who is doing that for us,” the governor said Thursday afternoon, adding the vendor is profiling people who may be interested in coming to Florida.
The revelation comes days after a lawsuit was filed against the governor claiming the migrants were lured with incentives like McDonald's gift certificates and free hotel stays, and were promised jobs, housing and educational opportunities if they boarded planes, which they were told were going to Boston or Washington, D.C.
DeSantis said all migrants went voluntarily and were provided with information on assistance they could receive in the area, which he called "the most posh sanctuary jurisdiction maybe in the world."
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Meantime, the chorus is growing louder among local Democrats, calling out the governor for moving people into unfamiliar territory during one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.
Democratic leaders gathered at a Venezuelan restaurant in Doral to raise their voices.
Former state legislator JC Planas, who left the Republican Party, said the move is right out of the GOP playbook, to shift attention away from hot-button issues like abortion, rising property insurance costs and open-carry gun laws.
“He is saying, oh, it was to prove a point, no!” Planas said of DeSantis. “It is to change the subject of what Republicans really want to do. How do I know this? I’m a former Republican legislator."
“Fighting is not putting on a Top Gun jacket and pretending like you are a Mr. Tough Guy," added Miami-Dade State Rep. Dottie Joseph. “Freedom is actually fighting for what freedom is, libertad, libète. These are not things that you just throw around for your own political amusement."
The governor is insisting all he’s doing is raising awareness about the country’s immigration issues.
“We’re going to be talking about this a lot more now, this was not an issue of concern even two weeks ago," DeSantis said. "Now it seems to be on the front burner, so we are proud of that."