In a rare loss in court for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a judge has ruled that a complaint regarding DeSantis’ policy of flying illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities out of state will go to trial.
Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper announced his ruling on Jan. 13. DeSantis had petitioned the court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo.
Pizzo, who advanced his complaint as a private citizen, cites DeSantis and two individuals associated with Florida’s Department of Transportation as violating state law when transporting migrants.
Cooper set the trial date for Jan. 30.
The Florida Phoenix reported that Cooper said: “I think we need to just hear out these issues.”
Specifically, the lawsuit argues the governor had no constitutional authority to transport illegal migrants by plane from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Pizzo’s complaint contends that while the law states that “a governmental entity may not execute, amend, or renew a contract with a common carrier or contracted carrier if the carrier is willfully providing any service in furtherance of transporting a person into the State of Florida knowing that the person is an unauthorized alien,” it also says, “except to facilitate the detention, removal, or departure of the person from this state or the United States.”
As previously reported by The Epoch Times, DeSantis has pressed the Biden administration to curb the flow of immigrants crossing the southern border in record numbers since 2021.
When Biden administration officials declared the border was “not open” and was “secure,” DeSantis, and governors in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona began moving immigrants to Democratic-controlled cities as part of a “relocation program.”
In September, DeSantis arranged for approximately 50 Venezuelans, who had recently crossed the U.S. border illegally, to be transported by plane to Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in Massachusetts.
At the time, DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske told media outlets that “states like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies.”
Last September, DeSantis noted how the Florida legislature was behind him in the plan to move illegal aliens to “sanctuary cities” out of state. DeSantis said: “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.”
In December 2021, DeSantis allocated $8 million in his 2022–2023 budget for transporting illegal aliens out of Florida.
The Epoch Times reported that “In September, Pizzo filed an “emergency complaint for declaration and injunctive relief in the state’s 2nd Judicial Circuit in Leon County, Florida.” The complaint names DeSantis and Dept. of Transportation managers Jimmy Patronis and Jared Perdue as defendants.
The complaint alleges DeSantis illegally used state funds to transport the immigrants, arguing the state Constitution notes that “no money shall be drawn from the treasury except in pursuance of appropriation made by law.”
Pizzo contends that using state funds to transport illegal aliens into and out of Florida violates state law. Florida Democrat Senate Leader Lauren Book asserted that the immigrants transported from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard “were not ‘unauthorized aliens’ but asylum-seekers, and transported from Texas “under the pretense of being provided expedited work permits, by a Ms. ‘Perla.'”
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