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 DeSantis and the Florida legislature failed to support Floridians facing a housing crisis, rising gas and insurance premiums and instead supported their rich corporate donors

MIAMI – The Southern Poverty Law Center has called for the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to open an investigation into the legality of the State of Florida’s planned use of $12 million in federal pandemic aid for a state program to transport immigrants out of Florida.

On June 2, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a $109.9 billion state budget bill that included a program to transport certain immigrants out of state. The program is to be funded using $12 million accrued from Florida’s share of the federally funded Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund appropriated to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The redirected $12 million would allow the FDOT to contract with common carriers to transport individuals deemed to be “unauthorized” out of the state. 

Since Gov. DeSantis took office, Florida has reportedly given away $5.7 billion in corporate giveaways. In May, the state gave a $624 million tax refund to a secret list of wealthy corporations. Floridians are facing a housing crisis, a steep rise in insurance premiums and inadequate infrastructure as the hurricane season begins. Many throughout Miami-Dade County still have flooding from a tropical storm that recently hit; yet, DeSantis and his legislators opted to veto more than $3 billion budgeted for critical needs that include infrastructure and programs for children, education and health care.

Stephanie M. Alvarez-Jones, staff attorney of the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project:

“Floridians need and deserve a government that works for them. Instead, Gov. DeSantis cares more about scoring petty political points with federal COVID-19 relief funds. He's shown time and again that he cares more about helping his wealthy donors than everyday families in Florida. Gov. DeSantis has chosen to use federal funds to threaten and harm people who call Florida home instead of using federal COVID-19 relief funds for their much-needed intended purpose: to aid families, small businesses and essential workers impacted by the pandemic. This misuse of $12 million is a travesty and should be investigated.”

A copy of SPLC’s letter is available here.

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