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Gov. DeSantis, Mayor Curry support crackdown of 'midnight flights' carrying undocumented migrants to Jacksonville

Mark VanLoh of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority said that back in June, a locked plane full of children was left on the Jacksonville tarmac for half a day.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is proposing new legislation to crack down on the issue of undocumented migrants reportedly being brought into the state by President Biden's administration.

There are more questions when answers when it comes to who exactly is operating these alleged flights and where the people are going that are on them. 

During a news conference in Jacksonville Friday, DeSantis says the practice helps contribute to larger socio-economic issues, including crime.

“Cartels are eating our lunch with what is going on with these border policies…," said DeSantis. "So we filed suit against the Biden administration several months ago again about challenging the catch and release policies. That case is still pending in the Northern District of Florida in the Pensacola division, but I will tell you, already we've seen movement."

DeSantis is recommending legislation to "strengthen Florida to fight back against the border crisis". Specifically, he says that any contractor involved with dumping undocumented individuals in our state will be barred from doing business in Florida.

He says he will also require any private business involved in such practices to pay state restitution for each person they are reportedly harboring.

During Friday's news conference, Mark VanLoh of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority said that back in June, a locked plane full of children was left on the Jacksonville tarmac for half a day without crew onboard.

"The flight crew had already left for hotels that night, leaving the plane full of children, with chaperones, on board for 10 hours," he said.

The statement from VanLoh comes after multiple attempts from First Coast News to gather information about these flights, to which the Jacksonville Aviation Authority provided no direct comment.

In the past, DeSantis has used the Jacksonville murder case involving 24-year-old Yery Noel Medina Ulloa as a flash point for his argument against the practice of bringing in undocumented migrants. 

City and government officials have since confirmed that Ulloa was on one of these flights posing as a juvenile before allegedly stabbing someone to death in the Monument area.

"I stand with you, governor, that this tragic loss could have been prevented if our southern borders were more secure," said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. "While some may think this is a unique or extreme case, I'm not willing to take that chance, like the governor, I want more information about who is on these flights coming into our city, many of them landing in the middle of the night."

The Department of Children and families published an emergency rule Friday that prohibits the issuance or renewal of any license to provide services to Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) who seek to be resettled in Florida unless resettlement is governed by a cooperative agreement between the State of Florida and the U.S. Government. 

For UAC already present in the state, the emergency rule requires licensees to conduct regular welfare checks. The DCF emergency rule can be found here.

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