Questions still revolve around Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ efforts to relocate migrants, from his use of federal COVID aid to transport migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, to the mysterious airline company tasked with handling those trips.

Vertol Systems Company Inc. has been paid $ 615,000 by the Florida Department of Transportation to transport 48 Venezuelan migrants to the small island of Massachusetts, a popular vacation spot for some of the richest and most powerful in the world. Their planes landed on Wednesday and the people on board have since been flown to Joint Base Cape Cod, where Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has established a refuge.

Those who came to Martha’s Vineyard were informed that they were going to Boston and had received incorrect immigration advice, lawyers said.

“They were told they would have jobs and housing,” Elizabeth Folcarelli, who heads Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, told the Associated Press, describing the fight for shelter as “a huge challenge.”

Julio Henriquez, a lawyer who met several migrants, said they “had no idea where they were going or where they were.”

The little-known airline that operated the flights is based in Hillsboro, Oregon, and also operates in Destin, Florida on the Panhandle, according to its website, which is no longer available online. Vertol was paid on September 8 under a new $ 12 million program set up to relocate immigrants without permanent legal status, state data show.

This fund was created in part by money raised under the US Rescue Plan, an approximately $ 1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress last year.

Legislation is spending $ 350 billion on cities and states to boost their economies and respond to the COVID-19 health crisis. While funds were not freely available, there were virtually no set rules on how interest generated from unspent money should be used.


US Senator Ed Markey and other members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation called a federal an investigation into how Florida paid for charter flights. In a letter sent to the Office of the Inspector General of the US Treasury Department, lawmakers accused DeSantis of misusing federal COVID-19 aid interest for what they called an “inhumane program.”

“If this is true, we believe this program is abusing federal aid funds for COVID-19 and violating federal law,” it reads.

“We therefore ask you to investigate Florida and take whatever action is necessary – including potentially withdrawing any misused funds – to stop the misuse of coronavirus relief programs.”


By saying at a press conference in Daytona Beach on Friday, DeSantis vowed to use “every penny” he had put on relocation efforts, adding that buses and flights full of migrants paid for by his state are likely to be in the future.

“This is just the beginning of the effort,” said the Republican governor on CNN. “We now have the infrastructure. There will be a lot more going on. “

It is noteworthy that while the money was intended to “facilitate the transportation of unauthorized foreigners out of the state,” DeSantis’ feat involved non-unauthorized individuals who were not in Florida.

DeSantis on Friday, without any supporting evidence, also said many migrants would end up in his state.

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Six buses for migrants from El Paso arrived in New York on Saturday. Another dropped off more than 50 migrants outside Vice President Kamala Harris’s Washington residence

Harris has ever since accused republican governors “Failing to do business” for “playing games” with migrants.

“It’s political acrobatics with real people fleeing harm,” she told VICE News. “I think this is the height of irresponsibility.”

The vice president is just one of many famous figures and political leaders who disagree with the recent attempt by Republican lawmakers to pressure the Biden administration to limit border crossing. Deputy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday heavily criticized the governors of the red states, calling their relocation efforts “crimes against humanity against refugees.”

“Don’t normalize it,” she said. Lying to and trafficking in human beings for television and clicks is not politics as usual. It’s an abuse. “

Florida representative Charlie Crist – Democratic candidate for governor – has also expressed his criticism. He posted a photo on Twitter showing a $ 615,000 contract between Florida and an airline for a “relocation program.”

“The most recent cruel political feat of Ron DeSantis was human trafficking,” he said. “We are in a fight to hold him accountable and make sure he votes in November.”

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