As Florida Democrats have attacked Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for relocating illegal immigrants to Martha' Vineyard, the DeSantis reelection campaign has put them on blast for voting to approve the funding that allowed the governor to do it.
Eleven Democratic members of the state Senate voted in favor of the state's fiscal year 2022-23 budget, which appropriated $12 million to transport illegal immigrants to out-of-state sanctuary city jurisdictions. The funding came from interest earned on COVID-19 relief given to Florida by the Biden administration as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, DeSantis campaign Rapid Response director Christina Pushaw said and the Washington Post confirmed.
Congress did not pass restrictions on the interest earned from coronavirus relief funds, freeing Florida lawmakers to use that funding however they wished. State senators approved the budget on March 14, 2022, in a vote of 33-0.
Pushaw pointed out that many of the Democrats railing against the governor for sending migrants to Martha's Vineyard had voted in favor of the budget including the relocation program.
DeSantis War Room, a Twitter account affiliated with the campaign, retweeted several of the Democratic lawmakers who expressed outrage over what they voted for.
"GOP politicians along with alt-right media outlets are using public money to traffic immigrants. It’s disgusting, un-American and shameful," tweeted Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (D), who voted for the budget. So did state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D), who said it was "cruel and inhumane" for Republicans to allegedly "use [migrants] as political pawns to score cheap points with their Fox News audience and the extreme fringes of their party."
"Ron DeSantis' puzzling decision to spend money from our state budget to send migrants to Martha's Vineyard is lacking in compassion and it may even violate state law," claimed Sen. Laruen Book, who also voted for the budget.
Some lawmakers attempted to defend their votes. State Rep. Angie Nixon (D) said that the budget is "complex" and that Democrats "vote in favor of the good aspects of it," presumably holding their nose for the provisions they oppose.
DeSantis signed Florida's $109.9 billion state budget into law on June 2, 2022. In addition to the $12 million appropriated for the migrant relocation program, the budget included more than $1.24 billion in tax relief, increased funding for K-12 education and teacher salaries, increased pay for law enforcement officers, a 5.38% salary raise for state employees, $2.5 billion to protect Florida's water resources and the environment, and additional funding for health care, economic development, election integrity, and more.
At a press conference Thursday, the governor responded to his critics and slammed the Biden administration for failing to secure the southern border.
"If you have folks who are inclined to think Florida is a good place, our message to them is we are not a sanctuary state, it's better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction," DeSantis said. "We will help facilitate that transport for you, so you can go to greener pastures.
"Biden would fly people in the middle of the night, dump them all across this country. There was no warning on any of this," he continued. "And all those people in D.C. and New York were beating their chests when Trump was president saying they were so proud to be sanctuary jurisdictions. Saying how bad it was to have a secure border. The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with everyday is brought to their front door they all [of a] sudden go berserk."
"It just shows you their virtue signaling is a fraud," DeSantis said.