A Venezuelan migrant said he received hundreds of dollars in payments to “help coordinate” flights part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ migrant plane trip program, the Miami Herald reported on Friday.
The man’s claim comes more than a month after DeSantis sent roughly 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, via planes from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
The man – who identified himself as Emmanuel – told the newspaper that Perla Huerta, the U.S. Army veteran who reportedly lured migrants onto planes for the stunt last month, recruited him to distribute her business cards to migrants in Texas.
Huerta – who worked for the DeSantis official-linked aviation company that Florida paid over $1.56 million – paid Emmanuel $700 for his work that included haircuts for migrants who were waiting for Martha’s Vineyard flights, the Miami Herald reported.
Emmanuel’s business card distribution, the newspaper noted, was to gauge migrants’ interest in flights to Illinois and Delaware, a plan that was later called off following news of an investigation into the DeSantis program.
Emmanuel, who said he does not have a permit to work in the United States, “turned to Huerta to see if she could help him out with a paid gig,” the newspaper reported.
Huerta’s reported payments to Emmanuel could come in contrast with a Florida state law that requires government contractors and subcontractors to register with and use the federal E-Verify system to verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees, the law states.
The law also states that subcontractors who enter into a contract with a contractor must provide contractors with an affidavit that states “the subcontractor does not employ, contract with, or subcontract with an unauthorized alien.”
The Miami Herald pointed to comments then-gubernatorial candidate DeSantis made in 2018 where he called to require all employers to use E-Verify.
“Assuring a legal workforce through E-Verify will be good for the rule of law, protect taxpayers, and place an upward pressure on the wages of Floridians who work in blue collar jobs,” DeSantis said during an address to politicians.
The Florida Legislature eventually passed a measure that would lead to the law that requires public employers, not private, and private contractors to use the system.
HuffPost has reached out to DeSantis’ office for further comment on the report.