Florida Republicans Authorize $12 Million To Fly More Migrants to Wealthy Martha’s Vineyard

‘The price of illegal immigration cost us everything,’ a state representative, Kiyan Michael, said. ‘I just want it to stop. It has to stop and it is insane if we are waiting on Washington, D.C., to do something.’

AP/Phil Sears, file
Governor DeSantis following his State of the State address during a joint session of the senate and house of representatives, March 7, 2023, at Tallahassee. AP/Phil Sears, file

Florida Republicans this week approved legislation mandating millions more dollars in funding toward the program used to ship migrants to uber-wealthy liberal hotspot Martha’s Vineyard, as well as other anti-immigration measures.

The bill in question, CS/SB 1718, is awaiting Governor DeSantis’s signature and is poised to become law in the Sunshine State. Among other measures, it would provide $12 million in funding for the Division of Emergency Management’s so-called Unauthorized Alien Transport Program.

This program is related to one used last year to transport about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard — an extremely wealthy island destination off the Massachusetts coast favored by liberal elites such as the Obamas and, at one time, the Clintons — from Texas, making pit stops in Florida and South Carolina.

Republicans have hailed the passage of the bill as progress needed in the absence of federal action, while Democrats have criticized it as overstepping the state’s power.

“The price of illegal immigration cost us everything,” a state representative, Kiyan Michael, said. “I just want it to stop. It has to stop and it is insane if we are waiting on Washington, D.C., to do something.”

Ms. Michael’s son was killed in a car crash in 2007 with an unauthorized immigrant and says her support for the bill stemmed from that incident.

Democrats in the statehouse also shared a variety of personal anecdotes in their speeches opposing the bill. One Democratic state representative, Dotie Joseph, said the legislation is state government overreach and will only complicate the problem.

“I’m just trying to figure out why the state is interfering with federal immigration enforcement,” Ms. Joseph said.

Aside from the funding for shipping migrants around the country, the bill would institute sweeping changes in Florida, including preventing counties and municipalities from issuing “identification documents to an individual who does not provide proof of lawful presence in the United States.”

It also explicitly states that licenses and permits issued by other states to “unauthorized aliens” are “not valid” in Florida and that hospitals must collect immigration data upon admission.

The bill would also allow private businesses to conduct audits of other businesses that they suspect of employing migrants not authorized to be in the country. Businesses with more than 25 employees would be required to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm a potential employee’s immigration status when hiring.

The new bill would override a 2014 law that allowed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals enrollees, or “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to America as children — to practice law in Florida.

Mr. DeSantis also pushed to ban Dreamers from receiving in-state tuition, though he was unable to whip support for the measure in the legislature.

Another measure that did not make it into the final bill, but had significant support among Republican elected officials in Florida, would have made it a felony to transport or harbor an unauthorized immigrant within the state.

After stirring significant criticism from opponents because it would make it a felony to give someone a ride across town, say, the measure was removed.

The legislature did increase the penalty for transporting someone from outside the county into Florida illegally.

The New York Sun

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