California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the state of Florida appears to have arranged for a group of South American migrants to be dropped off outside a Sacramento church.
“While this is still under investigation, we can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida,” Bonta said in a statement.
The documents said the migrants were transported through a program run by Florida’s Division of Emergency Management and carried out by contractor Vertol Systems Co., said Tara Gallegos, a spokesperson for Bonta. Florida paid the same contractor $1.56 million last year to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and for a possible second flight to Delaware that never took place.
The 16 migrants who arrived in Sacramento on Friday are from Colombia and Venezuela. They entered the U.S. through Texas. They were transported to New Mexico then flown by a charter plane to California’s capital, where they were then dropped off in front of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, California officials said.
They were approached outside a migrant center in El Paso, Texas, by people who offered them jobs and travel assistance, said Eddie Carmona of PICO California, a faith-based group helping the migrants. They did not know they were being taken to Sacramento and arrived with few belongings, he said.
Vertol Systems Co. and the Florida Division of Emergency Management did not immediately respond Sunday to emails seeking comment.
Bonta said he is evaluating whether violations of civil or criminal law took place.
“While we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,” Bonta said in a statement.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.