DeSantis migrant relocation program planned to transport ‘100 or more’ to Delaware, Illinois, documents obtained by CNN show


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ migrant relocation program planned to transport “approximately 100 or more” migrants to Delaware and Illinois between Sept. 19 and Oct. 3, according to documents obtained by CNN through a public records request.

The documents are memos sent to the Florida Department of Transportation’s state procurement administrator by James Montgomerie, CEO of Vertol Systems Company Inc., the company contracted by Florida to arrange transportation for the migrants.

The memo specifically states that Vertol Systems would provide the services to transport the migrants “from Florida.”

Two “projects” were planned, according to a September 15 memo. “Project 2” would transport “up to fifty” migrants to Delaware; “project 3” would transport “up to fifty” migrants to Illinois.

Both projects were scheduled to take place between September 19 and October 3.

Another memo, dated Sept. 16, combined the projects into one and estimated their cost at $950,000.

The memo also said the migrants could be transported to a “nearby northeastern state designated by FDOT based on existing conditions.”

CNN reached out to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker for comment, but did not immediately receive a response. A spokesman for Delaware Gov. John Carney said he had no comment.

Vertol Systems was paid $1.6 million by the state of Florida, including a $950,000 settlement.

The flights to Delaware and Illinois never happened. However, flight plans were filed with the FAA indicating that another set of flights were planned from San Antonio to Delaware.

A third memo, dated October 8, notes that Vertol extended the project dates to December 1, meaning the flights could still take place.

On September 14, two planes picked up 48 migrants from San Antonio, Texas and transported them to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The flights, paid for by the state of Florida, stopped temporarily to refuel in Crestview, Florida and the Carolinas.

DeSantis has tried to sidestep criticism of the flights, saying they were necessary to stop the flow of migrants at the source before they got to Florida.

“If you can do it at the source and divert to sanctuary jurisdictions, the chance of them ending up in Florida is much less,” DeSantis told reporters in September.

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