California’s top official suggests Florida governor guilty of kidnapping after flying asylum seekers to Sacramento, the US state capital.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has unleashed a scathing swear word against his Florida counterpart and Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis after two planes carrying undocumented migrants and asylum seekers arrived in his state.
In a tweet Monday, Newsom called DeSantis a “little pathetic man,” suggesting Florida’s governor orchestrated the flights. Newsom also linked his post to the definition of kidnapping in the California Penal Code, preceded by the comment, “Kidnapping charges?”
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The tweet came shortly before a spokesman for California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that a second plane with 20 migrants on board had landed in California’s capital, Sacramento.
The first arrived in the state capital on Friday with 16 people on board. Bonta said those arrivals were then dropped off at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.
“As we continue to gather 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 Saturday.
Bonta has indicated he believes Florida officials arranged for the flight that carried South American migrants and asylum seekers from Texas to California.
His spokesperson, Tara Gallegos, said Monday that the second group of migrants appeared to have been transported by the same company contracted by Florida.
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.@RonDeSantis you little pathetic man.
This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard.
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Read the following. pic.twitter.com/KyE1lJiIYo
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 5, 2023
That company, Vertol Systems Company, had previously received $1.56 million from Florida last year to fly migrants and asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as well as for a possible second flight to Delaware that never happened.
Gallegos explained that documents carried by Friday’s migrant flight indicated they, too, had been transported by Vertol as part of a program run by Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. Many of the arrivals came from Colombia and Venezuela.
Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for the faith-based group PICO California, told the Associated Press news agency that the 16 arrivals had been processed by US immigration officials in Texas and given court dates for their asylum cases.
They were then approached by “persons representing a private contractor” who promised to provide them with jobs and help them reach their final destination.
“They were lied to and deliberately duped,” Carmona said, adding that the group was not told they were being taken to Sacramento and that none of the transferees wanted to travel to California.
The accusation comes as several Republican governors have continued to threaten to send migrants to Democratic-led jurisdictions in the North, especially as Public Health Title 42 expired.
That order — which allowed border authorities to deport certain asylum seekers without processing their applications — came to an end on May 11, and many observers expected its expiration to be followed by a flurry of border crossings. There is, however, no sign of a revival in the number of crossings.
Republican governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas and DeSantis of Florida had previously bussed thousands of migrants to New York, Chicago and Washington DC. Charter flights are considerably rarer.
For his part, DeSantis has regularly promoted his state’s efforts to relocate migrants and funneled millions into the project, with the help of Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature.
DeSantis is seen as the main Republican challenger to former President Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential race, and he has been an outspoken critic of Democratic President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.
On Monday, the White House weighed in on the flights, with spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre saying the Biden administration was waiting for the results of the California investigation.
She also denounced “transporting or flying migrants across the country without any coordination” with federal, state or local officials as “dangerous and unacceptable.”
“We will be very clear on that,” she said. “It is dangerous and unacceptable because you are putting human lives at risk. And it is dangerous and unacceptable because you are actually putting a lot of pressure on these states and local areas.”