California lawmaker calls for criminal investigation of Gov. DeSantis’ migrant relocation program

DeSantis immigration
He called DeSantis an ‘immoral, power-hungry politician.’

Yet another California elected official is demanding a federal probe into Gov. Ron DeSantis for his migrant relocation program.

Assemblyman Evan Low, a Silicon Valley Democrat, filed a resolution calling for an investigation of DeSantis’ role in sending three dozen Latin American migrants, most picked up in El Paso, Texas, to Sacramento in June.

The measure (ACR 113) says DeSantis should “be held accountable and investigated for the criminal nature of … Florida’s Unauthorized Alien Transport Program.” It names the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as the agency that should handle the inquiry.

“To lie and deceive human beings just trying to survive and support their families in order to transport them unknowingly to California for the purpose of scoring cheap political points is unconscionable,” Low said in a statement shortly after filing the bill Tuesday.

Low called DeSantis an “immoral, power-hungry politician.” He commended California Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Texas Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County for their “quick action” to previously address the program.

Salazar opened an investigation last year after Florida launched the program by chartering flights to Texas, picking up 49 recent border crossers and relocating them to the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.

His office announced plans to file criminal charges against the DeSantis administration in June. Bonta opened a separate investigation into the transport of 36 migrants to Sacramento earlier that month.

On July 6, Newsom, Bonta and Salazar penned a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting federal action. The letter cited a Los Angeles Times report detailing how a contractor the DeSantis’ administration hired had lured migrants onto planes with promises of shelter and services.

“It is unconscionable to use people as political props by persuading them to travel to another state based on false or deceptive representations,” the letter said. “We urge (the DOJ) to investigate potential violations of federal law by those involved in this scheme.”

More than two dozen Democratic state lawmakers in Florida made a similar entreaty to the DOJ and U.S. Department of Transportation in October. They questioned the legality of using $12 million in interest from federal pandemic relief funds to finance the program.

During the 2023 Legislative Session, Republican Florida lawmakers reauthorized and extended funding of the program through a sweeping anti-illegal immigration package. Part of the measure replaced a section of Florida’s 2022 budget that created the program but specified the initial $12 million earmarked for it was to remove migrants who illegally crossed into Florida. The new language allows Florida to transport “inspected unauthorized aliens” from and to anywhere in the country.

DeSantis has defended the program as a way of forcing progressive state and local governments to face the realities of the more permissive immigration policies they espouse.

“They have endorsed and agitated for these types of open-border policies,” he said during a June stop in Arizona two weeks into his presidential campaign. “I think they should be the ones to pay to do it.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Ron DeSantis is a Human Trafficker

    August 16, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    DeSantis belongs in Coleman Federal Prison.
    Human trafficking and paying for it with taxpayer funds?

    Lock him up!

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 17, 2023 at 5:02 am

    Lived and worked all over Florida! More than one area Economy depends on MIGRATION worker.
    Desantis just thinks acts as if these folks are not Human!!!
    Typical Desantis show off!

  • Anna

    August 17, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    Jason Pizzo was the only legislator who stood up against these unlawful, inhumane antics. Even among the democrats.

    Meanwhile, the GOP followed Ron’s orders and made sure the relocation program continued, all while beating their hairless chests as if the program reflects well on our state.
    Well done, flock. At least we know Ron has a real future in sheep herding after he loses next August.

Comments are closed.


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