Sending Migrants From TX to Mass. Under Relocation Program May Have Violated Florida State Law

 According to documents obtained through a public records request, the state of Florida set aside $12 million for its relocation program, but there were specific conditions 

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The NBC10 Investigators have new information about how the state of Florida paid to fly nearly 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last month. 

We’ve learned that those flights may have violated Florida state law. 

When the state of Florida was searching for a company to move those migrants it spelled out a whole host of regulations governing the state’s relocation program. Documents obtained by the NBC10 Investigators show multiple instances where those rules were not followed. 

 According to documents obtained through a public records request, the state of Florida set aside $12 million for its relocation program. 

The Florida Department of Transportation said it was searching for a company to quote “assist in the voluntary relocation of Unauthorized Aliens who are found in Florida." But the 48 migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard in September were from Texas, which would contradict state law. 

Those same guidelines required the state to notify local law enforcement that the migrants were on their way, but neither the Baker administration nor local officials on the Cape said they were given a heads up. Florida State Sen. Jason Pizzo is suing to have the relocation program stopped immediately. 

“No one approved you to go and spend money outside of the state of Florida on an issue or condition that was not existing. We were sold a bad bill of goods," Pizzo said.

According to the documents, multiple transportation companies responded to the state’s request for quotes. 

Vertol Systems, an aviation company based in Destin, Florida ultimately won the contract. 

In an email to the Florida DOT, the company quoted prices on flights to both Boston and Los Angeles. 

In September Florida paid Vertol Systems more than $1.5 million for a relocation program of unauthorized aliens. 

The first payment was made six days before the flights left Texas and landed in Martha’s Vineyard. 

According to the documents the relocation program was meant to last until June of 2023 or until the $12 million in funding ran out. 

That led to speculation that the two flights to Martha’s Vineyard were not going to be the last. 

“I don’t think it’s fiscally prudent if the governor is spending $12,000 per person on political theater  To take 48 asylum-seekers and put them up in hotel rooms give them McDonald’s gift cards and haircut haircuts and fly them to a quaint island in the northeast”

We reached out Vertol Systems for comment but have yet to hear back.  

Two other companies mentioned in the documents deny any involvement in the flights to Martha’s Vineyard. 

Our sister station in Miami reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis' office and to the Florida Department of Transportation. Neither has responded.

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