‘Opening people’s eyes’: DeSantis defends migrant flights amid Texas investigation, lawsuit

DORAL, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending his decision to send a group of Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard amid criticism, a criminal investigation and, now, a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the migrants filed Tuesday.

The governor said the flights, to what he calls Democratic-led “sanctuary states,” are bringing increased attention to issues at the border, saying “nobody can deny that there’s a crisis.”

“At the end of the day, what we’re doing is not the ultimate solution,” DeSantis said at an event Tuesday. “I think it’s opening people’s eyes to the solution.”

The governor made it clear that migrant flights are his answer to an increasing number of southern border crossings since President Joe Biden reversed some of the hardline policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump.

“I don’t hear outrage about the criminal aliens that have gotten through and then have victimized people,” DeSantis said.

Migrant class-action lawsuit:

DeSantis also spoke about drugs and crime.

The relocated migrants are families seeking asylum.

As he spoke Tuesday, records show a plane was in the midst of another transport, this time to President Biden’s home state of Delaware, with Florida’s tab to the contractor, Vertol Systems, more than $1.5 million so far.

“When Biden is flying these people all over the fruited plain in the middle of the night, I didn’t hear a peep out of those people,” DeSantis said.

The governor is not wrong—the unaccompanied minors are flown, with privacy, to shelters around the country, but they were under President Trump, too.

In those years, thousands were flown in at night to Homestead.

Tuesday afternoon back in South Florida, a protest was held at Downtown Doral Park.

Immigrant advocates and local Democratic leaders attended, including Lieutenant Governor candidate Karla Hernandez-Mats.

Also attending were other members of immigrant advocacy groups, such as the Family Action Network Movement and Florida Rising.

Florida has spent $1.5 million so far to fly migrants to so-called "sanctuary states."

On Wednesday, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist held a virtual town hall with local Venezuelan-American leaders.

“Ron, you trafficked these people, you lied to them, you spent our tax money flying them across the country, now because of you, Floridians are left holding the bag for your gains,” Crist said.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.