California Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta fired back at Florida on Monday morning following growing evidence that the state was behind a Friday flight transporting migrants from the Texas border to a Sacramento church. They accused Florida of “state-sanctioned kidnaping” if they are for sure behind the action.
Since last year Florida, Arizona, and Texas have been busing and flying immigrants from their states to other places in the country. This has included the city of El Paso busing thousands of migrants to places such as New York and Chicago, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sending buses of migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ house in Washington, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis chartering flights of migrants to blue areas of the country, including some infamous flights last year of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Democrat President Joe Biden has called this movement of mostly Latin American migrants “playing politics with people’s lives” and said it is inhumane, especially in areas such as New York City, which have services brought to the brink already because of the migrant influx.
However, officials from Texas and Florida, including DeSantis, have fired back that “every community in America should be sharing in the burdens.”
At first, Californian officials went after Florida and Texas for their migrant busing and flying. In September 2022, Governor Newsom did call out both states for their actions, calling what they were doing “kidnaping” and trying to get the DOJ to charge them with a suit over as much. He even called for a debate with DeSantis over immigration. A few months later, Newsom proceeded to blame both Republicans and President Biden for the migrant crisis at the border, as well as some of California’s migrant influx issues.
However, Texas and Florida largely stayed away from sending migrants to California, with many being flown in on the behalf of groups within California.
With California receiving their own large influx of migrants, the Golden State was looked over despite Newsom trying to challenge other states over their policies, with the focus being on Democratic states and cities in the East and Midwest.
That all abruptly changed on Friday when 16 migrants from Colombia and Venezuela who had illegally crossed the Texas border were flown from New Mexico to Sacramento. The 16 then were brought directly to a Roman Catholic Diocese church. An investigation by the state of California was quickly launched, with Attorney General Bonta saying over the weekend that Florida might be responsible for the movement of the 16 migrants.
“Today I met with over a dozen migrants who were brought to Sacramento by private plane, with no prior arrangement or care in place,” said Bonta on Saturday. “We are investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California. We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants. 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. 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.”
Specifically, the documents linked the migrants to Florida via Vertol Systems, the same company Governor DeSantis used last year in the Martha’s Vineyard flight. Over the weekend, the DOJ confirmed that the paperwork on the migrants in Sacramento did indeed have Vertol as the contractor.
An investigation into the migrant flight into Sacramento
With more evidence mounting, a growing investigation, and more signs pointing to Florida as behind the flight, Governor Newsom threatened to file kidnapping charges against Gov. DeSantis on Monday. He also noted that this instance would not be similar to how the Martha’s Vineyard incident worked out last year.
.@RonDeSantis you small, pathetic man.
This isn't Martha's Vineyard.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 5, 2023
Political experts noted on Monday that the investigation should finish before any stones are thrown, but with the current evidence showing that Florida is likely behind the flight, that this is only the latest chapter in the rivalry between Newsom and DeSantis.
“DeSantis and Newsom have been going after each other for years now,” explained John Dupree, a Miami-area political advisor, to the Globe on Monday. “The feeling here is that DeSantis has taken a lot more hits from Newsom than vice versa in the past year. Starting in July of last year where he kind of blindsighted DeSantis with those ads to just a few weeks ago when DeSantis’ dealings with Disney cost the state that huge Lake Nona Project and California benefiting from it. People love DeSantis, but can’t stand Newsom keep getting the better of him.”
“And you know what people here loved? The Martha’s Vineyard flight. Really stuck it to a state that everyone felt had not been doing their fair share of helping with the illegal immigrant crisis. So, if this was DeSantis, you can see why he did it. Get one over Newsom, get a boost in popularity in Florida, and get the issue out there again, not to mention get some more red state love by doing a Martha’s Vineyard to Sacramento since he’s in the Presidential race now too.”
“You are right and there is probably more to this, but based on what we know right now, DeSantis had a lot of reasons for doing this if, again, he was the one who did it.”
More details on the flight and who was behind it are expected later today and throughout the week as California’s investigation continues.
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