Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill to expand a controversial state program to transport migrants.
The law is used to relocate migrants from anywhere in the country to Democratic-led cities.
The program faced intense backlash after Florida officials were accused of misleading migrants and promising false incentives. It now gains an additional $10 million in funding.
DeSantis and a handful of other Republicans argue that they are tackling a surge in migration to the U.S.-Mexico border that is overwhelming southern states.
But experts and immigration advocates say the policies dehumanize migrants and use them as political pawns in a political stunt.
The governor faced scrutiny after he used state funding to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts even though the program only set aside money to relocate migrants from within Florida.
The measure allows the DeSantis administration to pick up where the governor left off last year when he sent two planes of migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard.
The action sparked multiple lawsuits and questions as to whether the DeSantis administration had violated state law by rounding up migrants in Texas. The budget law that created the $12 million program specified that the money was set aside to relocate “unauthorized aliens from this state.”
The program already faces several legal challenges.
One lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the legislation, highlighting the fact that the language used in the budget for the initial program specifies that the money will help transport migrants out of Florida — not necessarily Texas.
The undocumented migrants that were flown to Martha’s Vineyard also filed a class action lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida officials. A federal watchdog and the D.C. attorney general have both launched investigations into the transports.
DeSantis signed multiple bills on issues that experts say are key components of his conservative agenda ahead of his expected run for the White House.