CRESTVIEW, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis has said the 48 migrants picked up in Texas last month and brought to Martha’s Vineyard were headed to Florida.
But a Florida Department of Transportation document released after a records request states that the $12 million program was set up “to assist in the voluntary relocation of unauthorized aliens who are found in Florida.”
The governor’s media office has not responded to a number of inquiries about whether the two September flights that originated in Texas with migrants who were found near the Mexican border failed to follow the rules of the program.
The FDOT document made two other references to the expected origin of the migrants, including a “minimum standard” for contractors to, “Develop protocol for ensuring that Unauthorized Alien has voluntarily agreed to be relocated out of Florida.”
The release in response to requests from the Florida Center of Government Accountability also includes the passengers’ consent forms but those documents make no mention of Florida.
The two chartered jets touched down briefly in Crestview, Florida, but the governor’s office has not responded to questions about whether the administration believes routing the flights through the state meets the standards outlined in the FDOT document.
The plan to land in Crestview was in play more than a month before the flights according to emails between a Department of Transportation attorney and the winning charter flight bidder, Vertrol Systems.
On July 26, the company’s owner James Montgomerie offered quotes of the approximate costs of flights from Crestview to Boston and Crestview to Los Angeles.
A string of text messages that were also released offered a glimpse at the timeline leading up to the flights.DeSantis’s public safety czar Larry Keefe texted another staff member about a week before the flights.
“Things are positively accelerating,” Keefe texted.
Moments after the planes took off Keefe texted, “Wheels up. Should be in contact again around 11 eastern.”
Keefe’s texts also mentioned another flight planned for the following week, but that was canceled for undisclosed reasons.
Keefe has not responded to requests for comment.
Videos of the planes taking off from San Antonio were also released, including a social media post shot by a passenger seen smiling when he pans into the cabin of the jet.
The records also included pictures of the migrants including several children waiting to board the flight.