The Florida Division of Emergency Management announced on Tuesday that the state was behind the two migrant flights into Sacramento over the weekend, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis further confirming their involvement on Wednesday.
The latest clash between Florida and California dates back to Friday when 16 illegal immigrants in El Paso were driven to an airport in New Mexico, flown to Sacramento, then dropped off at a Sacramento Roman Catholic Diocese building. Attorney General Rob Bonta immediately set up an investigation, finding links between Florida and the flight contractor, who the state had previously used last year for migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. A second migrant flight arrived on Monday, prompting Governor Gavin Newsom to call out Florida and Governor DeSantis in a tweet once definitive evidence was found, despite California being a sanctuary state.
.@RonDeSantis you small, pathetic man.
This isn't Martha's Vineyard.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 5, 2023
With both California and federal pressure building on Florida, the sunshine state claimed responsibility on Tuesday, claiming that the relocation was voluntary and what they had done was not kidnapping.
“Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated they wanted to go to California,” said the Division of Emergency Management on Tuesday in a statement. “As you can see from this video, Florida’s voluntary relocation is precisely that — voluntary. State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting. From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new. But suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s false imprisonment and kidnapping.”
Many lawmakers in California were quickly outraged by the remarks, with many still vowing to press kidnapping charges. With the pressure still not going away, Florida Governor DeSantis, who has already started a 2024 presidential campaign, addressed the flights during a visit to Arizona on Wednesday.
“These sanctuary jurisdictions are part of the reason we have this problem because they have endorsed and agitated for these types off open border policies,” explained DeSantis. “They have bragged they are sanctuary jurisdictions. They attack the previous admin efforts to try to have border security. When they have to deal with some of the fruits of that they all of a sudden become very, very upset about that. This policy had been debated and vetted by Florida legislators who had agreed to set aside millions for the migrant relocation program.”
Controversy over flights continue to grow
However, the responses by Florida only triggered national condemnation, with the White House even weighing in on the flights.
“I just don’t understand what are these governors doing?” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “Why are they causing chaos? Why are they causing confusion? What does that actually do for their constituency or for the people who are being put on these planes or on the buses, and it just doesn’t make sense, they’re playing games and political stunts, they just are not going to actually deal with the issue at hand.”
However, the biggest name to go on the warpath against DeSantis and Florida was Governor Newsom. In a series of tweets and interviews on Wednesday, Newsom continued to blast the Florida Governor for the flights and said that the investigation into him and the flights would continue.
“Let’s level set here,” tweeted Newsom on Wednesday. “A governor had to send his taxpayer funded operation to ANOTHER state to find people to use as pawns. He lied to them. Bussed them to yet another state. Flew them on a taxpayer funded charter flight. Then dumped them on the steps of a catholic charity. All for his own pathetic scheme to gain attention. We will not be backing down from holding those involved accountable.”
Let's level set here.
A governor had to send his taxpayer funded operation to ANOTHER state to find people to use as pawns.
He lied to them. Bussed them to yet another state. Flew them on a taxpayer funded charter flight. Then dumped them on the steps of a catholic charity.… pic.twitter.com/NM2AnJv4tR
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 7, 2023
In an NBC interview, he added that “It was hyperbole to suggest that DeSantis would be arrested for the flights when he comes to Sacramento later this month for a fundraiser for his presidential campaign. DeSantis is flailing and desperate for attention.”
“Now, who’s ultimately accountable and responsible? I mean, the buck should stop with Ron DeSantis and the games he’s playing. But it’s the folks on the front lines that were doing the dirty work. And that’s ultimately what we have to determine, is where the culpability lands and resides.”
Experts noted that the flight controversy is far from over, and that both DeSantis and Newsom will likely be going after each other for some time over it.
“This is far from over for both of them,” explained John Dupree, a Miami-area political advisor, to the Globe on Wednesday. “The legality of the flights, who was the one who ultimately gave final approval, what California will do in response, if those migrants will just be flown back. There are a ton of questions around this right now.”
“And the two will continue to snipe at each other over this. The California investigation could bring some bad news to DeSantis, but DeSantis can just keep throwing back California’s sanctuary state status in their face about this too. And so, will DeSantis try more flights? And what can California’s investigation ultimately do to him? Newsom seemingly ruled out arrest today, but what else they can possibly have planned is anyone’s guess. What is for certain is that both Governor’s are getting national attention from this at a time where they both need it.”
More on the illegal immigrant flights controversy is expected this week.
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