Politics

Markey: Treasury Department is investigating DeSantis over migrant move

The U.S. Treasury is looking into whether Florida improperly used COVID-19 aid to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida speaks in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Sept. 18, 2022. Taylor Glascock/The New York Times

The U.S. Treasury is looking into whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis improperly used COVID-19 aid to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last month, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey confirmed Tuesday. 

Markey joined Reps. Lori Trahan, Jake Auchincloss, Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton, Ayanna Pressley, and Bill Keating in penning a Sept. 16 letter to Deputy Inspector General Richard Delmar, calling for an investigation into the incident. 

Florida funded the flights with interest earned from federal aid, “effectively using COVID-19 relief to score political points by exploiting vulnerable immigrants,” the letter writers contended. 

Taking to Twitter Tuesday night, Markey said the Treasury Department responded to the letter, “confirming that it will investigate … [DeSantis’s] use of Covid relief funds to cruelly transport immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard under false pretenses and without any consideration for their personal dignity or basic needs.”

In the Oct. 7 response to Markey and his colleagues, Delmar said his office plans “to get this work underway as soon as possible.”

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He added: “We are also monitoring legislative and judicial challenges to the use of the funds for this purpose; such developments may affect the scope and timing of our review.”

In a lawsuit filed last month, Florida state Sen. Jason Pizzo alleged that the flights violated Florida’s migrant transport program, as the migrants weren’t in the U.S. illegally and did not originate in the state, according to Axios

Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights has also filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of affected migrants. The group is suing DeSantis, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, the State of Florida, and others.

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