Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 6B, a bill that will create a program to inhumanely expel migrant families and people seeking asylum out of Florida. The bill aims to change a law Governor DeSantis is being sued for violating after spending nearly $1.6 million in taxpayer funds to facilitate the infamous and cruel transport of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last fall. Now the Florida legislature has passed a law to codify a program with the same goal.
DeSantis, who is facing multiple lawsuits for this action, seeks to codify the program and do so quickly and with very little notice during a special session that took place just two days after the bill was filed. The bill passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor’s desk.
Silvana Caldera, policy strategist at the ACLU of Florida, responded to the committee’s vote with the following statement:
“Let’s be clear: this bill is an egregious abuse of power by Governor DeSantis. He is already facing multiple lawsuits for his inhumane political stunt of transporting migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last fall. In short, this bill attempts to change a law the Governor is facing legal action for while using critical taxpayer funds that should be allocated elsewhere.
“Calling for a rushed special session, at extra cost to taxpayers, despite the regular session starting in less than a month, is an attempt to avoid the consequences of his actions and set the stage for further targeting of migrants.
“At a time when Floridians have so many crucial needs, such as access to affordable housing and healthcare, the Governor has prioritized using state resources to inhumanely and unnecessarily transport migrant families out of Florida.
“We’ve seen DeSantis use these cruel tactics before. We know that the families sent to Martha’s Vineyard last year arrived with no food, water, or shelter and were allegedly misled about their final destination and resources available to them upon arrival. Many of these families were fleeing threatening conditions in their home countries and faced grave danger and sought to seek a better life in the United States. However, they were further traumatized by being deceptively transported across the country without basic amenities like water and food, which has prompted an array of investigations and litigation. Human beings, including children, should not have to experience trauma so that Governor DeSantis and any other politician can score political points.
“Expelling migrants out of Florida is out of step with the history and values of our State. People from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, and other countries from all over the world have a history of making Florida home, and this program is an abrupt departure from our culture and values. Florida is what it is today because of these roots and the contributions of generations of families.
“Let’s remember that the right to asylum is a human right codified in law and transporting human beings because they are migrants is an egregious government overreach. DeSantis often preaches the values of freedom and limited government, but using state government powers to target and expel vulnerable individuals in our state is similar to tactics used in countries many of these families are escaping from. We cannot turn our backs on people seeking protection from violence and persecution, and certainly not further target and traumatize them.
“Our number one priority as a state should be to ensure that every person arriving in Florida is safe, healthy, cared for, and treated humanely.”