Watch CBS News

Lawsuit claims legislation used to fund DeSantis' migrant flights is unconstitutional

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Holds News Conference With Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo
MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 17: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the University of Miami Health System Don Soffer Clinical Research Center on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. The governor held the press conference to announce that the state of Florida would be providing $100 million for Florida's cancer research centers, after he signs the state budget into law. / Getty Images

MIAMI, Fla. (CNN) -- Three non-profit immigrant rights organizations have filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, claiming that the state is "infringing upon the federal government's immigration system by creating a separate, parallel immigration system."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the immigrant rights groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other legal advocates.

"Florida's attempts to create its own immigration system came to a head on September 14, 2022, when individuals acting at the direction of defendants sowed chaos and confusion by fraudulently inducing approximately 50 Venezuelan and Peruvian migrants, all of whom had been processed into the US by immigration authorities, into taking a flight from Texas to Massachusetts, falsely promising them aid, jobs, and more," the lawsuit says.

CNN has previously reported the nationality of those on the flight as Venezuelan.

The lawsuit alleges that Section 185 of HB 5001, which passed early this year and allocated funding for the removal of migrants from Florida, is unconstitutional because it allegedly violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, which states that federal laws take precedence over state laws. It also claims that it violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

"Since the passage of Section 185, defendants Gov. DeSantis and Secretary Perdue have taken direct action to implement Section 185 by transporting asylum seekers from Texas to Massachusetts," the lawsuit continues.

CNN has reached out to DeSantis and Perdue for comment.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to find that Section 185 of the appropriations bill is unconstitutional because "it can only be explained as irrational prejudice against "unauthorized aliens," and violates the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs are also asking for any other relief the court may deem just and proper.

As previously reported by CNN, a class action lawsuit was filed in September on behalf of an advocacy group and migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard. Two additional members of DeSantis' administration as well as an alleged "lead recruiter" of the migrants were added to the amended complaint on Tuesday.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.