DeSantis Asks Feds for Funding So Private Companies Can Transport Migrants Out of Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday asked for $8 million in federal funding to contract with private transportation companies to transfer migrants out of the state.

DeSantis' request comes as part of proposed series of legislative reforms that he wants enacted to resist President Joe Biden's immigration policies and to fight back "against the Biden border crisis," he said.

"The governor's proposals for protecting Floridians from the Biden Border Crisis are intended to implement the directives of the Executive Order he signed in September," the governor's spokesperson told Newsweek on Friday.

DeSantis issued an executive order in September listing a number of immigration-related rules. One of the orders banned Florida agencies from providing assistance in transporting to the state migrants apprehended at the southwest border, who don't have legal status in the country.

"One of the priorities that we've been working on for many months now, and we'll continue to work with the Legislature when they get back, is dealing with the fallout from the reckless border policies of the Biden administration," DeSantis said Friday at a news conference in Jacksonville.

The Republican governor suggested sending migrants to "Delaware or Martha's Vineyard or some of these places. That border would be secure the next day."

His anti-immigration plan also prohibits state or local agencies from working with entities that help resettle "illegal aliens into Florida." Additionally, the governor proposed ordering jails and courts to gather immigration status information at the time of arrests and convictions.

He also wants to improve Florida's E-Verify procedures by making the state Department of Economic Opportunity "an agency eligible to conduct enforcement."

"We're going to provide resources, we're going to provide money to be able to get what we [want]. What we don't want is incentivizing people to be coming to the state illegally," the governor said on Friday.

The spokesperson said that the legislative session that will look into the proposals will take place from January to March 2022.

"During the session, lawmakers will consider the proposals and the details of the policies will be finalized before they can be enacted into law," she said.

For the proposed program to go into effect, the Legislature has to first approve the funding and the operation's details, according to the Miami Herald.

DeSantis also proposed improving Florida's sanctuary cities law, which bans contractors involved in what he described as illegal immigration from doing any business in the state.

"We just cannot be doing contracts with companies that are knowingly and recklessly facilitating bringing people here into our state illegally," he said. He added that those "involved in facilitating illegal migration into Florida" will be required to pay restitution.

DeSantis wants to remove"illegal" migrants from Florida
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is requesting $8 million in federal funding to transport migrants out of the state. Above, DeSantis speaks during a press conference on August 5 in Hialeah, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

"We're going to make sure that if a local jurisdiction is not assisting state law enforcement in our investigation on whether somebody has been brought here illegally, then that constitutes a sanctuary policy," the governor said.

His immigration reform proposals also include banning migrants, who crossed the border illegally, from any discretionary benefits. This means that all agencies including the Agency for Healthcare Administration (ACHA), health departments, hospitals and Medicaid plans "must report and publish expenditures for illegal aliens."

DeSantis' proposed program has drawn mixed opinions from lawmakers. According to the Herald, state Representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, said that the requested budget is "basically $8 million for his political campaign. There are some serious human rights concerns. Are you going to put someone in a car and drive them to Delaware?... State officials are not trained on any type of immigration enforcement."

U.S. Representative John Rutherford, a Florida Republican, praised DeSantis' proposal and said that he is "thankful" that the governor is "putting the safety of Floridians first and is fighting back against the Biden open border agenda."

"This crisis at the southern border is not the result of a failed policy from the Biden Administration — it is their policy. The decision to move illegal immigrants into Jacksonville threatens the lives of folks here in Northeast Florida. Enough is enough," Rutherford said, according to a statement released by the governor's office on Friday.

Update 12/10/21, 7:15 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include comments from Governor Ron DeSantis' office.

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