DeSantis sent 50 migrants to the elite Massachusetts vacation hamlet last month in a move that exposed Democratic hypocrisy on immigration. Lawmakers such as Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) subsequently asked Treasury Department Deputy Inspector General Richard Delmar to examine DeSantis’ use of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to pay for the immigrants’ relocation.
“States should not be permitted to use COVID-19 relief funds for any parochial interest unrelated to the pandemic, particularly for naked political conduct that imposes severe and unjust harms on disadvantaged groups of individuals,” the lawmakers said in a letter. On Wednesday, Markey released the message he received from Delmar, which said that his agency has “already sought information” from Florida regarding their use of emergency funds.
“We plan to get this work underway as quickly as possible, consistent with meeting our other oversight mandates and priorities, both in pandemic recovery programs as well as the other Treasury programs and operations for which we have responsibility,” Delmar said. “We are also monitoring legislative and judicial challenges to the use of the funds for this purpose; such developments may affect the scope and timing of our review.”
Both chambers of the Florida legislature, however, had voted to appropriate $12 million for facilitating the transport of illegal immigrants from the state.
Beyond asking the Treasury Department to rebuke DeSantis over the stunt, Markey requested that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg examine whether the migrants were misled about their journey in violation of federal law, according to a press release.
President Joe Biden has witnessed a surge in illegal immigration throughout his tenure. According to data released by Customs and Border Protection, the nation witnessed 66 migrants on the terror watchlist traverse the southern border, while a total of 30 had done the same in the preceding five years. Border agents had more than 2.2 million encounters with migrants during fiscal year 2022.
A complaint filed by some of the migrants with the help of advocacy group Lawyers for Civil Rights alleged that they were victims of a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to relocate them. The DeSantis administration replied to the lawsuit by sharing photographs of the consent forms that the illegal immigrants signed before traveling to Martha’s Vineyard.
“Florida’s program gave them a fresh start in a sanctuary state and these individuals opted to take advantage of chartered flights to Massachusetts,” the office said in a statement. “It was disappointing that Martha’s Vineyard called in the Massachusetts National Guard to bus them away from the island within 48 hours.”
Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County, Texas, likewise attempted to investigate DeSantis over the move. Though he said that flying the migrants elsewhere “does tend to bother me quite a bit,” he admitted that he could not name any laws that were broken.
“Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected,” a spokesperson for DeSantis acknowledged, noting that unless the Massachusetts national guard “has abandoned these individuals, they have been provided accommodations, sustenance, clothing and more options to succeed following their unfair enticement into the United States.”