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A judge in Leon County in northwest Florida dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday over the controversial use of public funds to move a group of about 50 undocumented immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in September 2022.
The lawsuit, filed by Democratic state senator Jason Pizzo, claimed that a section of the budget used to pay for last September’s flights was unconstitutional because it created a new program and changed laws, local media reported.
Lawyers for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, argued that Pizzo’s lawsuit was “moot” given that the Legislature had passed a law this month aimed at bolstering efforts to transport migrants to “sanctuary zones” in the country, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
During the hearing and after Pizzo’s attorney acknowledged the point raised by the state’s defense, Judge John Cooper dismissed the lawsuit.
However, for Pizzo, he partially achieved what he sought, as the laws passed this month by the Legislature addressed a number of legal issues raised by the Democrat.
The DeSantis administration used $615,000 to pay Vertol Systems Company to move this group of undocumented immigrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, the media outlet added.
On February 16, several immigrant organizations expressed their concern over the recent expansion of an undocumented relocation program in Florida that could lead to racially motivated arrests in this state and the rest of the country.
SB 6B, which after its approval in the Florida Legislature was signed by DeSantis, allows the transfer of immigrants to other parts of the country, as was the case with the shipment of nearly fifty undocumented immigrants from Texas to Massachusetts.
DeSantis’ order to send the immigrants to the island of Martha’s Vineyard caused heated controversy and prompted lawsuits and investigations into him, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and the people who helped recruit immigrants in Texas.
When news of the immigrant shipment broke and the controversy erupted, the governor defended his decision as a response to the immigration policy of President Joe Biden’s administration, which, in his opinion, leaves U.S. borders “open” to foreigners without permission to settle in the country.
DeSantis also said that the immigrants caught in Texas after seeking political asylum at the border traveled to Martha’s Vineyard voluntarily, but those who boarded the flight paid for by Florida said in court in Massachusetts that they had been tricked.