A trio of immigrant rights groups filed suit in federal court Thursday against Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials over September’s flights carrying illegal migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition, Americans for Immigration Justice, and Hope Community Center named DeSantis and state Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue in the filing.
Part of the issue cited by the plaintiffs is the funding source for the flights. Earlier this year the state legislature budgeted $12 million to move illegal migrants from Florida to other states.
The money was taken out of interest earned from federal dollars granted to the state through the American Rescue Plan.
Florida officials arranged for the flights to carry 49 predominantly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to the Massachusetts liberal enclave. Some were later found to be from Peru. This action led to loud protests by open border advocates and other leftist radicals.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 1, 2022
DeSantis defended the flights as a method of drawing attention to the Biden White House’s lack of border enforcement. He along with Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent migrants to so-called sanctuary cities to highlight the White House’s lax border policies.
There are multiple lawsuits pending, and this latest filing claims Florida created a definition of “unauthorized alien” that conflicts with federal law. Litigants believe the state standard may target people who are in the country legally by Washington’s definition.
The groups say that in the process, Florida created a “separate, parallel immigration system.” They assert that the state action is unconstitutional in that it violates the Supremacy Clause as well as the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection.
The Supremacy Clause established that federal law supersedes that of the states.
In the process, the lawsuit claims that the state appropriations bill that created the funding was the result of “irrational prejudice against unauthorized aliens.”
The lawsuit follows a class action filing in September on behalf of an immigrant advocacy group and the migrants flown to Massachusetts. On Tuesday, two other members of the DeSantis administration were added to that suit as well as a person identified as the “lead recruiter.”