ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. - After reports surfaced that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis helped fund two planes with migrants from Venezuela to Martha's Vineyard last week, one Florida mayor is asking DeSantis to send those people to his city, along with the funding it took to fly them there.
"Instead of sending families fleeing violence in Venezuela to Martha’s Vineyard, bring them to Gainesville, along with the $12m," Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said in a tweet last week. Gainesville is about 114 miles northwest of Orlando, or slightly less than a two-hour drive.
Last week, DeSantis' team confirmed to FOX News Digital that two planes were sent Wednesday night to Martha's Vineyard, part of the state's relocation program. Florida has a $12 million budget set aside for the program, according to FOX News.
"We are not a sanctuary state," DeSantis said last week in response to the reports.
Mayor Poe said he believes the migrants would strengthen the community.
"They are much more likely to start a business and become a successful entrepreneur," he told FOX 35 News on Tuesday.
"If we just take the amount of money that we spent, the $600,000 plus for a plane ride, we could fully house and help integrate those families into our communities in less than a year," he said.
"It is not the responsibility of Floridians to subsidize aliens to reside in our state unlawfully; we did not consent to Biden’s open-borders agenda," the governor’s office said at the time. DeSantis proposed Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard as a destination for such migrants, but his office explained they could also be sent "to other 'progressive' states whose governors endorse blatant violations of federal immigration law."
FOX News reported that two migrant buses from Del Rio, Texas, arrived near Vice President Kamala Harris' residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. The group of 75 - 100 migrants were reportedly picked up in Eagle Pass, Texas and sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
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A Texas sheriff on Monday opened an investigation into two flights of migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard by DeSantis, but did not say what laws may have been broken in putting 48 Venezuelans on private planes last week from San Antonio.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, an elected Democrat, railed against the flights that took off in his city as political posturing. But he said investigators had so far only spoken to attorneys representing some of the migrants and did not name any potential suspects who might face charges.
He also did not mention DeSantis in a news conference that appeared to mark the first time a law enforcement official has said they would look into the flights.
"I believe there is some criminal activity involved here," Salazar said. "But at present we are trying to keep an open mind and we are going to investigate to find out what exact laws were broken if that does turn out to be the case."
The Venezuelan migrants who were flown to the wealthy Massachusetts island from San Antonio on Wednesday said they were told they were going to Boston. Julio Henriquez, an attorney who met with several migrants, said they "had no idea of where they were going or where they were."