California investigating whether Ron DeSantis involved in flying asylum-seekers from Texas to Sacramento
The offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento are seen in Sacramento. Image via AP.

Sacramento
Two flights in four days have dropped migrants off in Sacramento, but so far Florida has been mum.

Officials are investigating whether Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis was behind a flight that picked up asylum-seekers on the Texas border and flew them — apparently without their knowledge — to California’s capital, even as faith-based groups scrambled to find housing and food for them.

About 20 people ranging in age from 21 to 30 were flown by private jet to Sacramento on Monday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. It was the second such flight in four days.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and faith-based groups who have been assisting the migrants scheduled a news conference Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom lashed out at DeSantis as a “small, pathetic man” and suggested the state could pursue kidnapping charges.

DeSantis and other Florida state officials were mum, as they were initially last year when they flew 49 Venezuelan migrants to the upscale Massachusetts enclave of Martha’s Vineyard, luring them onto private jets from a shelter in San Antonio.

DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run for president, has been a fierce critic of federal immigration policy under President Joe Biden and has heavily publicized Florida’s role in past instances in which migrants were transported to Democratic-led states.

He has made the migrant relocation program one of his signature political priorities, using the state legislative process to direct millions of dollars to it and working with multiple contractors to carry out the flights. Vertol Systems Co., which was paid by Florida to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, appears to be behind the flights to Sacramento on Monday and last Friday, Bonta said, adding that the migrants were carrying “an official document from the state of Florida” that mentions the company. The company didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Altogether, more than three dozen migrants arrived in Sacramento on flights last Friday and on Monday. Most are from Colombia and Venezuela. California had not been their intended destination and shelters and aid workers were taken by surprise, authorities said.

Friday’s group was dropped off at the Roman Catholic Church diocese’s headquarters in Sacramento. U.S. immigration officials had already processed them in Texas and given them court dates for their asylum cases, and none had planned to arrive in California, said Eddie Carmona, campaign director at PICO California, a faith-based group helping the migrants in Sacramento.

Asylum seekers can change the location of their court appearances, but many are reluctant to try and instead prefer sticking with a firm date, at least for their initial appearances. They figure it is a guarantee, even if horribly inconvenient.

The Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have previously sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., but the rare charter flights by DeSantis mark an escalation in tactics. The two groups sent to Sacramento never went through Florida. Instead, they were approached in El Paso by people with Florida-linked paperwork, sent to New Mexico, then put on private flights to California’s capital, California officials and advocates said.

Bonta, who met with some of the migrants who arrived Friday, said they told him they were approached by two women who spoke broken Spanish and promised them jobs. The women traveled with them by land from El Paso to Deming, New Mexico, where two men then accompanied them on the flight to Sacramento. The same men were on the flight Monday, Bonta said.

“To see leaders and governments of other states and the state of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, acting with cruelty and inhumanity and moral bankruptcy and being petty and small and hurtful and harmful to those vulnerable asylum seekers is blood-boiling,” Bonta said in a Monday interview.

Some of the migrants who arrived Friday told Bonta they met on their nearly three-month journey to the United States and decided to stick together to keep each other safe as they slept on the streets in several countries, he said.

As the migrants arrived in California Monday, a Texas sheriff’s office announced it has recommended criminal charges over the two flights to Martha’s Vineyard last year.

Johnny Garcia, a spokesman for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, said that at this time the office is not naming suspects. It’s not clear whether the local district attorney will pursue the charges, which include misdemeanor and felony counts of unlawful restraint, according to the sheriff’s office.

The office of New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had no specifics as to why the immigrants were taken from Texas to New Mexico before being flown to California.

“Gov. Lujan Grisham stresses, yet again, the urgent need for comprehensive, thoughtful federal immigration reform which is rooted in a humanitarian response that keeps border communities in mind,” the governor’s spokesperson, Caroline Sweeney, said Monday.

Last year, DeSantis directed Republican lawmakers in Florida to create a program in his office dedicated to migrant relocations. It specified that the state could transport migrants from locations anywhere in the country. The law was designed to get around questions about the legality of transporting people on a flight that originated in Texas.

Florida’s alleged role in the arrival of the two groups in Sacramento is sure to escalate the political feud between DeSantis and Newsom, who have offered conflicting visions on immigration, abortion and a host of other issues. ___

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


8 comments

  • Dont Say FLA

    June 6, 2023 at 7:25 am

    Despite Rhonda’s track record of exporting humans from Florida when they’re found not to possess paperwork from the relevant jurisdiction permitting their existence in spacetime, Rhonda will proclaim “Witch Hunt,” of course.

  • Tom

    June 6, 2023 at 7:28 am

    I really hope they charge him with kidnapping. Rhonda needs a good kick in the nads. Maybe then he’ll tone down the cruelty and let Texas worry about their problems and stop wasting our money on his election campaign.

  • Terri

    June 6, 2023 at 7:32 am

    This is rediculous. Why is the state of Texas and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis doing this to people who have no idea what’s going, are used as pawns and are being shipped around the country. That is so cruel. How can Florida in act laws in their state against accepting immigrants and then be a conduit to helping Texas get rid of immigrants in their state and lie to these people to get them to transport to other areas in the US? Isn’t there laws against this kind of behavior? I don’t know but now that these immigrants have been used I think they should be given legal counsel to stop this kind of thing from happening and prosecute people that have carried these atrocities out!

    • BC

      June 7, 2023 at 10:07 pm

      At least Texas has a reasonable excuse for spending state taxpayer money. DeSantis just wants a piece of the action.

  • No Human Trafficking ... Except Rhonda

    June 6, 2023 at 9:33 am

    Rhonda exempts themself from yet another law. Anyone trafficking humans that don’t have paperwork from the relevant jurisdictional authorities approving their existence in spacetime, those traffickers are breaking the law. Except Rhonda. Just like with Resign to Run, Sunshine Laws, etc, you name it. Whenever Rhonda doesn’t want a law to apply to him, he exempts himself. Rhonda who thinks he is special and better than everybody else, that is not a person anyone should want as U.S. President. It’s public service, not self service. But since Casey is chasing Elon Musk, self service is all Rhonda’s got.

  • Ron DeSantis is a Human Trafficker

    June 6, 2023 at 10:10 am

    Lock him up!

  • Suze

    June 6, 2023 at 12:14 pm

    This needs to be on every news channel, newspaper in the country to show the cruelty of DeathSantis and his misuse of teac payer dollars on top of it all

  • Just the average Joe

    June 7, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    He’s a loser. Won’t make it very far. Why not address Floridas problems. He should move to Texas!!! Hope trump chews him up, and Chris Christie body slams this man. He is a whiny little man with an inflated attitude. California and Massachusetts republicans don’t like him, so that’s two states he will do poorly in. We should put him on a FedEx plane with a container of chocolate pudding , white waist high boots and send his ass to Russia.

Comments are closed.


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