'Discriminatory intention': DeSantis secretly allocated $12 million for immigrant relocation

'Discriminatory intention': DeSantis secretly allocated $12 million for immigrant relocation
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking in Phoenix, Arizona in August 2022 (Gage Skidmore)
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Legal challenges continue to mount against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over his decision to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in September, Orlando Weekly reports.

Per the report, the Florida State Legislature approved an “unauthorized alien” relocation program in the state budget earlier this year, which directed the Department of Transportation to implement “a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.”

However, the program, which involves a whopping $12 million in funds, had not previously been incorporated into the budget. Instead, Orlando Weekly reports, the funding “was tucked into the appropriations bill while House and Senate leaders were reconciling differences in their proposed state spending plans.”

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Several immigrant-advocacy organizations are filing a lawsuit against DeSantis, claiming that implementing such a program is “discriminatory intention” and a violation of constitutional due-process and equal-protection rights. And, according to Axios, the lawsuit highlights the fact that the Constitution only grants power to regulate immigration policy to the federal government, not the state.

Paul Chavez, a senior supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, and representative for the plaintiffs, said, “the scheme by Gov. DeSantis and the state of Florida to use taxpayer funds for the ‘relocation’ of ‘unauthorized alien’” is a blatant and unlawful attempt to harass immigrants at the state level.”

The plaintiffs include three local nonprofit immigration focused organizations: The Florida Immigrant Coalition; Americans for Immigrant Justice, Inc. (AI Justice); and Hope CommUnity Center, Inc. The organizations say the program will disproportionately impact Black and Hispanic people.

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DeSantis’ spokesperson publicly doubled down on the legitimacy of the relocation program, alleging that it does not violate federal law. Still, the complainants argue, though the program is “dressed as a state budget item,” it “is an effort to backhandedly control national immigration, and, as such, it is unconstitutional.”

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