Migrant Groups Sue DeSantis Over Relocation Program

A group of immigrant advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court on Thursday against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other Florida officials that challenges the constitutionality of the Sunshine State’s migrant relocation program.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and Hope Community Center are the named plaintiffs in the case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

DeSantis proposed a state budget that was approved earlier this year by the state legislature. It included an allocation of $12 million for the relocation of illegal migrants found in Florida to other “sanctuary” jurisdictions. The budget mandated that the funding for the program come solely from interest earned on federal funds the state has received through the American Rescue Plan.

The complaint filed in the lawsuit alleges that the state appropriation creates an overly ambiguous legal definition of “unauthorized alien” that is preempted by federal immigration laws that have a more specific definition. According to the complaint, Florida’s definition can include some persons who are authorized to be inside the United States by the federal government.

As a result, the case claims that those migrants are “at risk” of being harrassed for merely wishing to enter or remain inside of Florida.

DeSantis and state officials made national news in September when Florida arranged two flights from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a liberal enclave in Massachusetts. The exclusive island is home to former President Barack Obama and other wealthy residents. Florida did not provide advance notice to Martha’s Vineyard that the flights transporting 49 illegal migrants were coming.

After the flights arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, DeSantis claimed responsibility for arranging the voluntary trips that migrants agreed to make at no expense to them. The governor said the flights were intended to bring greater public attention to the ongoing crisis throughout America resulting from Biden’s open-borders policies.

DeSantis was following the lead of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who had previously sent buses loaded with illegal migrants dumped in the Lone Star State by the Biden administration to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago.

The new case filed in Florida comes amid other litigation that has been filed arguing that state officials misrepresented the nature of the Martha’s Vineyard flights to the migrants who made the trip.

DeSantis and the other state officials sued in the new case have not yet filed a formal response to the case, and no hearings in court have yet been scheduled.