State Watch

Immigrant rights groups sue DeSantis over migrant flights

Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew two planes of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration’s failed border policies. (Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette via AP)

Three Florida-based immigrant rights groups sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday over the migrant flights that his administration organized to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in September.

Florida Immigrant Coalition, Americans for Immigrant Justice and Hope CommUnity Center filed the lawsuit against DeSantis and Florida Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, arguing that they were “infringing upon the federal government’s immigration system by creating a separate, parallel immigration system.”

The immigrant rights groups specifically asked the court to strike down the section of Florida’s 2022 appropriations act that devoted $12 million toward transporting “unauthorized aliens” out of the state.

DeSantis sent about 50 migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in mid-September, following similar efforts by Republican governors in southern border states to bus migrants to Democrat-led northern cities in protest of President Biden’s border policies.

Thursday’s lawsuit claims that DeSantis’s effort is unconstitutional because it violates the Supremacy Clause, which establishes that federal laws take precedence over state laws, by attempting to “supplant federal immigration law with state policy.”

In particular, the lawsuit points to what it characterizes as the state’s “incoherent definition” of the term “unauthorized alien,” which it argues does not match up with federal immigration law.

The Florida-based groups also accused DeSantis of violating the 14th Amendment by “targeting people of color born primarily in Latin American and Caribbean countries to determine their immigration status.”

The migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard previously filed their own class-action lawsuit against DeSantis and several other members of his administration over the stunt, claiming they were deceived into getting on the flights with promises of aid and jobs.

Tags Biden Florida immigration Lawsuit Martha's Vineyard migrant flights Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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