LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — Among the controversial provisions of the new immigration laws signed Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis is more money to fly undocumented migrants from border states to northern states.
Opponents said the so-called migration relocation act uses needy humans as pawns, while the governor and his supporters stand by the program.
DeSantis put pen to paper two days after Palm Beach County Hispanic leaders and supporters asked DeSantis to hold off on signing the series of immigration reforms.
"This is the strongest legislation against illegal immigration anywhere in the country," Gov. Ron DeSantis said during Wednesday's bill signing ceremony in Jacksonville.
"It was a little bit of a gut punch," Danna Torres of the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth Beach said.
She is concerned about several parts of the new law including migrant relocation provisions.
Last year, the state paid to fly 49 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to a summer resort in Massachusetts.
"Once again we're uprooting them and displacing them, and then just dumping them in somebody else's backyard," Torres said.
"You have a duty to make sure these borders are secure," DeSantis said Wednesday.
Data shows why the governor and his supporters defend flying migrants out of states like Texas.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 77% of the undocumented migrants in Florida are from Mexico, Central and South America, meaning they crossed into the U.S. from the southwest.
Only 10% of the migrants are from the Caribbean, where U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said most came in by boat.
DeSantis also defends sending them to states with sanctuary cities.
"A lot of these sanctuary jurisdictions, they say they want open borders," DeSantis said. "They say that nobody's illegal and yet when these people, the illegal aliens, are brought to their jurisdictions, they scream bloody murder."
At the Guatemalan-Maya Center, Torres spent the day answering questions from nervous migrants worried about the many aspects of the new immigration laws.
"We knew it was going to happen, but it still doesn't take away from the impact of it happening," Torres said. "It still hurts."
The immigration measure was co-sponsored by state Rep. John Snyder, R-Stuart. He said under the new law, the program is voluntary, and migrants will not be flown to other states against their will.