The air charter company Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration hired for his migrant-moving program has contributed big money to some top allies of the governor and was once legally represented by Rep. Matt Gaetz and his former partner, who is now Florida’s “public safety czar” in charge of immigration policy.
DeSantis’ administration has refused to release a copy of the $12 million contract with Vertol Systems Company Inc. for its role in administering the “unauthorized alien” program — which state Democrats sought to block with a lawsuit Thursday — nor will the governor’s office comment on the nearly $1.6 million the company has received to send migrants to so-called sanctuary cities that welcome immigrants.
Gaetz, who managed DeSantis’ transition team in 2018, would not comment for this article, nor would his former law partner, Florida’s public safety coordinator Larry Keefe, who represented Vertol in at least one civil lawsuit in 2017, according to court records from Okaloosa County, Florida.
In Vertol’s only known case of relocating migrants, the company received an initial $615,000 last week and recruited almost 50 destitute asylum-seeking Venezuelan migrants in San Antonio, gave them food and at least one night’s hotel stay, and then flew them to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of DeSantis’ effort to highlight the toll of illegal immigration. Lawyers for the migrants say they were tricked by false promises and are suing.
Two planes of about 50 migrants arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts on Wednesday night from Florida, by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Massachusetts officials say the planes initially came from Texas. DeSantis’ move is just one of many by Republican governors to send migrants elsewhere in the U.S. in what they consider to be a failure of the Biden Administration’s border policies. Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell law school joins LX to discuss this ongoing migrant crisis.