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DeSantis refuses to confirm reports of Florida sending migrants to Biden's home state of Delaware

Biden says DeSantis should 'come visit' Delaware, 'we have a beautiful shoreline'
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Bradenton on Sept. 20, 2022.jpg
Posted at 5:28 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 17:28:10-04

BRADENTON, Fla. — Florida's governor on Tuesday refused to confirm reports that the Sunshine State is planning to fly a second group of migrants out of Texas, this time to President Joe Biden's home state of Delaware.

According to records from FlightAware, Ultimate Air Shuttle 11 was scheduled to fly from San Antonio, Texas, to Crestview, Florida, on Tuesday, before heading to Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown, Delaware, about an hour from Biden’s home.

The departure time came and went, and the flight didn’t appear to happen.

The San Antonio to Crestview route is the same itinerary that funneled 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard on Sept. 14.

Public records show the state paid an additional $950,000 to Vertol Systems, a company reportedly involved in flying the migrants to Massachusetts last week.

"I cannot confirm that. I can't," Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday in Bradenton when asked about the new payment.

WATCH: Florida's governor addresses border crisis

Gov. Ron DeSantis talks migrants, Biden immigration policies

During a news conference Tuesday at the White House, Biden addressed the reports of DeSantis sending migrants to Delaware.

"He should come visit. We have a beautiful shoreline," Biden told reporters.

The president addressed his policies, saying there are fewer immigrants currently coming into the U.S. from Central America and Mexico, and on his watch are migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

"The ability to send them back to those states is not rational," Biden said. "We're working with Mexico and other countries to see if we can stop the flow."

Officials in Delaware, even the White House, are on alert.

"Yes, we have received word of the flights and we are coordinating closely with state officials," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

During a Tuesday briefing, the president’s press secretary condemned the governor.

"Our heads up did not come from Gov. DeSantis. His only goal, as he has made really clear, is to create chaos and use immigrants fleeing communism as political pawns," Jean-Pierre said.

DeSantis on Tuesday once again vehemently defended his decision to send dozens of Venezuelans to the wealthy enclave of Martha's Vineyard, saying sanctuary jurisdictions should bear the burden of Biden's open border policies, which the governor claimed are doing "huge damage" to America.

"Those migrants were being treated horribly by Biden. They were hungry, homeless. They had no opportunity at all. The state of Florida, it was volunteer, offered transport to sanctuary jurisdictions," DeSantis said. "They were provided an ability to be in the most posh sanctuary jurisdiction, maybe in the world."

Immigrants flown to Martha's Vineyard stand outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Sept. 14, 2022
Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday flew two planes of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, escalating a tactic by Republican governors to draw attention to what they consider to be the Biden administration's failed border policies.

A Texas sheriff on Monday opened an investigation into the flights to Massachusetts, saying he believed there was "some criminal activity involved."

"At present, we are trying to keep an open mind and we are going to investigate to find out what exact laws were broken, if that does turn out to be the case," Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, said.

The flights took off from San Antonio, which is Salazar's jurisdiction.

"I haven't heard any outrage about the fentanyl that's come across the border that's killing Americans in record numbers," DeSantis responded on Tuesday. "I don't hear outrage about the criminal aliens that have gotten through and have then victimized people, not only in Florida, but all throughout the country."

The governor added that Florida has had immigration officials in Texas since last year, and up to 40% of migrants who cross the border into the Lone Star State are seeking to come in Florida.

"If you can do it at the source and divert to sanctuary jurisdictions, the chance they end up in Florida is much less," DeSantis said. "With the sanctuary, the idea is, because they have more benefits or whatever they do, people will be able to stick."

According to Salazar, the migrants were "preyed upon" and "hoodwinked." DeSantis claimed the Venezuelans were given packets that contained a map of Martha's Vineyard and clearly knew where they were going.

"We want to know what was promised to them," Salazar said. "What, if anything did they sign? Did they even understand the document in front of them if they signed something, or was this a predatory measure?"

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature approved $12 million for a relocation program "to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens" from the state of Florida.

"At the end of the day, what we're doing is not the ultimate solution. I think it's opening people's eyes to the solution which is, let's have a secure border," DeSantis said.

Some Democrats, including Charlie Crist, DeSantis' gubernatorial opponent in the November election, have asked the Justice Department to investigate the flights to Massachusetts and determine whether they were legal.

This story was originally published by WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida.