Biden's stimulus may have helped pay for Ron DeSantis' political stunt flying migrants to Martha's Vineyard
- Biden's stimulus may have helped pay for DeSantis' political stunt to fly migrants to Massachusetts.
- DeSantis stepped up his campaign to troll liberals ahead of a possible 2024 presidential run.
President Joe Biden's stimulus was so large that it may have had an unintended consequence: helping Fl. Gov. Ron DeSantis finance a political stunt to fly migrants to a wealthy, liberal-leaning slice of Massachusetts.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that Florida may have used the interest accrued on the $8.8 billion it received from the federal government under the stimulus to pay for a pair of flights that dropped off around 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
The group of migrants were relocated from Texas and reportedly told they were headed to Boston to find work and housing. But they arrived in Martha's Vineyard, a wealthy enclave where former President Barack Obama has a home. The local community banded together provide the migrants with food and housing.
The stunt from DeSantis sparked outrage from immigration advocates and Democrats who called it a cruel political stunt that amounted to human trafficking. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday called on the Department of Justice to investigate whether the migrants were lured with false promises of employment.
The White House and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Florida Department of Transportation overseeing the relocation program didn't immediately respond to a request for comment as well.
Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature designated $12 million to transport unauthorized immigrants to so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, often in liberal cities. It remains unclear whether the funds were drawn from the stimulus law in any fashion.
"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," DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said in a statement to The New York Times.
DeSantis is widely viewed to harbor presidential ambitions for 2024. The Florida governor has devoted much time trying to troll Democrats, such as by threatening to send migrants to Biden's home state of Delaware. DeSantis is also moving to stock Florida's school boards with loyalists aligned with his hardline conservative views, Insider's Kimberly Leonard reported.
States and cities were eligible for $350 billion in federal relief under Biden's stimulus law. That pot of money was established with few strings attached, meant to provide state and local officials with plenty of leeway to decide how to spend the money.
The federal aid has been used for a wide range of purposes. For example, some of the aid financed more direct payments at the state level. GOP governors also tapped the federal dollars to hand out tax cuts as well.
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