DeSantis Signs Migrant Relocation Program Into Law – Law360

By Micah Danney 

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill devoting $10 million to a program that expands the state’s transporting of migrants to other states, a move critics promptly decried.The law funds and authorizes the relocation of migrants to other parts of the country and establishes a category of people called “inspected unauthorized alien” who will be subject to the program. It defined the term as pertaining to any person who has official documentation showing that the federal government “processed and released him or her into the United States without admitting the individual in accordance with the federal Immigration and Nationality Act,” according to the text of the law, which was signed Wednesday.The measure also shifted responsibility for out-of-state transports of migrants from the Florida Department of Transportation, which had been arranging flights and buses by order of DeSantis, to the state’s Division of Emergency Management. DeSantis had allocated $12 million to the previous program in June.The law blames federal authorities for failing to “secure the nation’s borders” and exposing Floridians to the impacts of “the border crisis,” thus necessitating state action.“Without such action, detrimental effects may be experienced in Florida, including increased crime, diminished economic opportunities and wages for American workers, and burdens on the education and health care systems. The Legislature finds that the federal government has proven itself unwilling to address this crisis,” the law states.But immigrant rights advocates and other critics see the law as simply upgrading a cruel ploy by politicians to use vulnerable migrants as pawns to gain support from conservative constituents, according to Paul Namphy, an organizer with Family Action Network Movement. He said DeSantis was trying to “one-up” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who began sending buses of migrants to Democratic-led cities in other states last year.“We’re going to be in for a very hard battle because you may see a race to the bottom politically by the far right, state by state,” Namphy said at a press conference by immigrant advocates on Thursday.Shalyn Fluharty, an immigration attorney with Americans for Immigrant Justice, said the measure is in “direct conflict” with federal law, which grants sole authority over immigration proceedings to the U.S. government.She predicted onerous consequences for migrants and the immigration system, suggesting that migrants who are sent to places far from Florida and settle there could still be required to appear at their immigration hearings in Florida. If they don’t show up, immigration judges will issue removal orders, she said, which may result in a surge of appeals that will create a backlog for immigration courts that are already overburdened.Fluharty also expressed concern that the term “inspected unauthorized alien” will open any migrants who have had contact with federal immigration authorities to targeting, surveillance and harassment by Florida officials and law enforcement, even if they reside in another state.Bilal Askaryar, communication coordinator with the Welcome With Dignity campaign, called the term troubling.“There is no real definition for this category of immigrants that they’ve created artificially, and so it raises questions of what this will look like in terms of racial profiling across not just Florida, but across the United States,” he said.A representative for DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.–Editing by Jill Coffey.”

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