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September 16, 2022

Pressley Joins Markey, MA Colleagues in Urging Treasury to Investigate Florida Gov. DeSantis’s Apparent Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars

Reckless $12M Florida ‘relocation program’ endangers immigrant families, misuses federal funds

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Bill Keating (MA-09), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Seth Moulton (MA-06) in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) urging OIG to review the State of Florida’s apparent misuse of federal pandemic relief funds from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF), created under the American Rescue Plan Act, to relocate vulnerable immigrants from Florida to other states across the country. According to the Florida statute at issue, the ‘relocation program’ was founded using interest earnings associated with COVID-19 relief funding.

On Wednesday, 50 immigrants and asylum seekers that first arrived in Texas were flown on planes charted by the State of Florida to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts without any notice provided to local, state, or federal officials to ensure basic needs were secured for those who arrived. Reports suggest the men, women, and children who were flown Wednesday to Martha’s Vineyard were told they would arrive in Boston.

“According to reports, Florida has used federal funds intended to help communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic for an inhumane program to transport newly arrived immigrants,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe this program misuses federal COVID-19 relief funds and violates federal law.”

“We request that you investigate Florida and take all necessary action — including potentially rescinding any misused funds — to stop this abuse of coronavirus relief programs,” the lawmakers continued. “States should not be permitted to use COVID-19 relief funds for any parochial interest unrelated to the pandemic, particularly for naked political conduct that imposes severe and unjust harms on disadvantaged groups of individuals.”

Rep. Pressley issued a statement regarding the arrival of migrants in Massachusetts earlier today.

Last week, Rep. Pressley, along with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL), and Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), sent a letter with 19 colleagues to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that the upcoming fiscal year 2023 continuing resolution provide an additional $50 million above the enacted fiscal year 2022  level to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program for humanitarian assistance to migrants.