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Immigration attorney on the legality of migrant flights landing in Jacksonville

Comments are continuing to pour in after News4Jax dug deeper on flights carrying migrants from the southern border landing in Jacksonville. On Tuesday, the News4Jax I-TEAM obtained records where state police claim 78 flights carrying migrants landed at Jacksonville International Airport in the past six months.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Comments are continuing to pour in after News4Jax dug deeper on flights carrying migrants from the southern border landing in Jacksonville.

On Tuesday, the News4Jax I-TEAM obtained records where state police claim 78 flights carrying migrants landed at Jacksonville International Airport in the past six months.

On Wednesday morning, Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted about the News4Jax story saying, “Biden secretly sent at least 78 flights carrying illegal immigrants to Jacksonville in the last 6 months. These people are out of control.”

Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to stop the planes from coming through but Florida Congressman Al Lawson, a Democrat, contends it’s a legitimate federal policy on immigration.

DeSantis has made his stance clear, saying the flights carrying migrants into and through Jacksonville International Airport are dangerous and he contends illegal.

But Lawson is firing back, saying the charters are for unaccompanied minors and they’ve been running since the George W. Bush administration.

With such a divide in opinions, mostly along party lines, News4Jax looked at the legal grounds with immigration attorney Ashwin Sharma.

“The facilities in Texas and these other border states are substantially overwhelmed. So I assume that that’s why they’re having to go to non-border states like Florida,” attorney Ashwin Sharma said.

Sharma said Florida, like other states, must follow immigration law which is federal law and President Joe Biden’s border policy is to relocate unaccompanied minors to a safe shelter while their cases are being adjudicated.

Leaders and interpretations have changed from President Donald Trump to President Biden, but he says immigration law has for the most part stayed the same.

“I’m not sure that there’s an all-expenses-paid boss that brings people in the US, but the simple fact is that they are here,” Sharma said. “They are at the border. They are coming past the border and at this point you know our policy, our immigration policy, to an extent has to adjudicate the merit of each individual’s claims.”

Sharma said some of the migrants have the potential to be legal American citizens.

“Every case is unique, if their claims are legitimate that they qualify under our laws,” Sharma said.

News4Jax is still waiting for better data from the state and federal government about who is coming through including the number of migrants, their ages, which countries they’re from and where the government is housing them.


About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.