Lawsuit over Florida migrant relocation program dismissed

  • Advocacy groups dropped a lawsuit filed after Florida flew migrants north
  • The lawsuit was based on a now-moot part of the state budget
  • A new program with the same objective has since been created

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)

(NewsNation) — A group of immigrant advocacy organizations that sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after the state paid to put migrants on a flight to Martha’s Vineyard have voluntarily dropped the lawsuit.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition, Americans for Immigrant Justice and Hope CommUnity Center filed a notice of dismissal Wednesday in federal court in Southern Florida. The notice didn’t detail reasons, but the lawsuit was based on a now-moot part of the Florida state budget.

Judge Kathleen Williams approved the request Thursday and officially closed the case.

The groups sued in December to block Florida’s so-called “relocation” program, arguing it was unconstitutional. The legislature had allocated $12 million in the state budget for the program intended to transport migrants to northern states and cities.

DeSantis’ administration used part of that money in September to fly a group of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

At the time, DeSantis’ office said, “States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden Administration’s open border policies.”

Facing a series of lawsuits over the program, the legislature earlier this year passed a new law that repealed the section of the budget that paid for the flights and created a new program, CBS News Miami reported. The new program will be administered by the Division of Emergency Management and has a budget of $10 million.

The advocacy groups had argued the previous relocation program violated federal immigration laws and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“Though dressed as a state budget item, Section 185 is an effort to backhandedly control national immigration, and, as such, it is unconstitutional,” the lawsuit stated.


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