According to state documents, the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this week paid an aircraft firm $615,000 as a part of a new initiative to move illegal people outside of the state.
Vertol Systems Company Inc. was paid on September 8, according to records. A week later, DeSantis claimed responsibility for bringing 48 migrants, most of whom, if not all, were from Venezuela to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, a popular summer vacation spot for the wealthy and powerful.
According to its website, Vertol Systems maintains operations in Destin in the Florida Panhandle but is headquartered in Hillsboro.
The Florida Department of Transportation, which earlier this year got $12 million to transport “illegal individuals from this state” to other areas of the country, made the payment, which according to documents was for a “relocation program of unauthorized foreigners.”
The company’s participation in the scheme is still not apparent. Requests for comment from the corporation and the state department of transportation were not immediately fulfilled.
DeSantis confirmed for the first time, at a news conference in Daytona Beach on Friday, that the migrants who were transferred to Martha’s Vineyard were a part of a “volunteer transportation they’re signing up for.”
A restriction Florida lawmakers imposed in the state budget when they approved the publicly sponsored program to transfer migrants was also raised by him for the second time this week: that the migrants were not taken from the state.
Most of the migrants, according to DeSantis, “are intending to come to Florida, they are coming to Florida, and we are removing them from Florida to sanctuary counties,” he told reporters.
DeSantis continued, “You’ve got to deal with it at the source.
Those who arrived as migrants on Martha’s Vineyard claimed to have traveled from Texas before boarding the aircraft. A migrant said that an unnamed woman offered to drive them to a location where she claimed they would receive better service.
According to a migrant contacted by the Herald/Times, the woman said she was waiting until they reached a specific threshold of passengers to fill the plane’s seats and enable them to complete the flight.
A red folder with two maps of the United States with a red line connecting Texas and Massachusetts on it was also provided to migrants. There was a red dot in the center of the map of Martha’s Vineyard.
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