TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) emailed out new details regarding the contract they agreed to with a company to fly immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard nearly three weeks prior.
In the request for quotes, FDOT sought the services of a transportation management company or similar entity to implement and manage a program to relocate out of the state of Florida foreign nationals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
They asked for pricing to include the cost of ground and air transportation, the cost of ensuring availability of ground and air transportation on demand, the en-route cost of meals and lodging, the cost of any security measures to ensure the safety of the public and transported persons, and all other costs associated with the transport of "unauthorized aliens."
FDOT collected quotes until July 20, documents show.
Three companies submitted quotes, including Vertol Systems Company, out of Destin. Vertol’s quote, regarding Project 1, says that they shall involve the facilitation of the relocation of up to 50 individuals to the state of Massachusetts or another proximate northeastern state designated by FDOT based upon the extant conditions.
The total price for all services related to Project 1 is $615,000, subject to FDOT approval.
On Sept. 7, FDOT asked the Department of Financial Services for approval to prepay $615,000 to Vertol Systems Company Inc. for transportation-related and humanitarian relocation services to implement a program to facilitate the transport of "unauthorized aliens."
The contract was signed and awarded to Vertol on Sept. 8. Six days later, the flight from San Antonio took off to Martha’s Vineyard. Vertol received another $950,000 a few days later but no documents were released yet on what that payment was for or what it entailed.
State Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo has filed a lawsuit in Circuit court looking to stop the Immigration Relocation Program in Florida concerned about the legality of the flights given the migrants were in Texas, not Florida.
The legislature approved a state budget that allotted $12 million for “implementing a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.”
Immigration advocates have been quick to point out that some of the migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard were "asylum-seekers" which is a different classification than "unauthorized aliens" as defined in Florida law.
Even the request for quotes from the state mention they were seeking a company to implement and manage a program to relocate out of the State of Florida foreign nationals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
We have reached out to FDOT for comment about the suit and have yet to hear back. We have also reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis' office about the legality concerns and have not yet received a response back.