Two planes carrying dozens of Venezuelan migrants landed on the small Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
This comes after the governors of Texas and Arizona sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. in recent months.
Upon arrival in Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, the migrants were provided with meals, shelter, health care and information about where to find work. They have since been moved to a military base on Cape Cod.
Following their arrival on the island, people on social media have claimed that DeSantis allocated $12 million in Florida’s budget to transport migrants out of the state.
Did Florida allocate $12 million to transport migrants out of the state?
- Freedom First Budget of 2022-2023 highlights
- Taryn Fenske, communications director for Gov. Ron DeSantis
Yes, Florida allocated $12 million to transport migrants out of the state.
WHAT WE FOUND
In June 2022, DeSantis signed the 2022-2023 Freedom First Budget, totaling $109.9 billion. That budget allocated $12 million for a “program within the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) to transport unauthorized aliens” out of the state.
A handout from the governor’s office sent to VERIFY sister station WTSP says the $12 million for that program is allocated to “facilitate the transport of illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard and other sanctuary states.” DeSantis began proposing that Florida send migrants to the Vineyard and other locations as early as April 2022.
“The legislature gave me $12 million. We’re going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we’re protecting the people of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a press conference on Sept. 16.
Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, confirmed the two planes that landed in Martha’s Vineyard “were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”
VERIFY is unable to confirm the immigration status of those who were sent to Massachusetts.
Though there isn’t a formal legal definition for a sanctuary city or state, they are generally defined as those that “limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, such as failing to provide information about immigration status and limiting the length of immigration detainers,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The nonprofit Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) lists California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state as those that claim “sanctuary state” status.
Records show that the state DOT paid $615,000 to Vertol Systems Company, Inc., an aviation company based in Oregon and operating in Destin, Florida, on Sept. 8 for the state’s “relocation program of unauthorized aliens.” The payment was made nearly a week before the planes arrived at Martha’s Vineyard.
VERIFY reached out to the Florida Department of Transportation for further comment about the company’s role in the flights to Martha’s Vineyard, but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.
DeSantis’ office did not respond to an emailed question about the cost of flights to Martha’s Vineyard.