California officials blast Florida’s DeSantis over transfer of migrants from Texas to Sacramento

by Lucas Garcia
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On Monday, California officials expressed their outrage towards Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and hinted at the possibility of a criminal investigation. Their concerns stem from the arrival of two flights carrying migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas and were subsequently sent to Sacramento, allegedly under the direction of Florida officials.

The most recent flight, which arrived on Monday, transported approximately 20 migrants. This followed the arrival of 16 migrants from Colombia and Venezuela on Friday, who had been driven from Texas to New Mexico and then flown on a chartered plane to a small airport in the capital of California. These incidents are the latest examples of a Republican-led state transferring migrants to a state controlled by Democrats.

Upon their arrival in Sacramento, the newly arrived migrants stayed at the airport for a few hours and were provided with food before being transported to a religious institution, according to Kim Nava, a spokesperson for Sacramento County. Nava stated that she was unaware of the nationalities of the migrants or their intended destinations within the U.S. She also mentioned that county social workers were en route to assess the needs of the individuals and provide necessary support.

The travel arrangements for the group appear to have been coordinated by Vertol Systems Co., an aviation company based in Florida hired by the Florida government to assist with migrant transportation. California Attorney General Rob Bonta is investigating whether any crimes were committed but did not disclose the documents related to the investigation.

Meanwhile, Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, took to Twitter and referred to DeSantis as a “small, pathetic man,” implying that California might consider pursuing kidnapping charges against him. The flights, if proven to be organized by Florida, would further escalate the ongoing political feud between the two governors, who hold differing views on immigration, abortion, and numerous other issues.

Neither the Florida emergency management agency nor Governor DeSantis’ spokespersons have confirmed Florida’s involvement, and Vertol Systems did not respond to requests for comment.

The initial group of migrants was dropped off at the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church diocese in Sacramento.

Eddie Carmona, campaign director at PICO California, a faith-based group aiding migrants, spoke about the first group’s arrival in Sacramento over the weekend. Carmona revealed that U.S. immigration officials had already processed these individuals, assigning court dates for their asylum cases. However, “individuals representing a private contractor” approached them outside a migrant center in El Paso, Texas, and offered assistance in finding jobs and reaching their final destinations.

Carmona claimed that the migrants were deceived and unaware of their location upon being dropped off in Sacramento. He stated that they had court dates in various cities across the country and had not intended to end up in California.

Although asylum seekers can change the location of their court appearances, many prefer to stick with their assigned dates, considering them a guarantee, even if inconvenient.

Governor DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, has been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden’s federal immigration policy and has previously highlighted Florida’s role in relocating migrants to Democratic-led states.

The migrant relocation program has become one of DeSantis’ key political priorities, with millions of dollars allocated through the state legislative process.

Last year, Florida paid Vertol Systems $1.56 million to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, with a possible second flight to Delaware that never materialized. The Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have previously sent thousands of migrants on buses to New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. However, charter flights, like the ones in question, represent an escalation in tactics.

Following questions about the legality of the Martha’s Vineyard flight, as it originated in Texas rather than Florida, potentially violating budgetary language, DeSantis had Republican legislators establish a program within his office dedicated to migrant relocations. They specified that the state could transport migrants from any location in the country. Vertol Systems Co. was one of three vendors chosen by DeSantis’ administration to carry out the program.

(Note: The article ends here. The reference to “Rodriguez reported from San Francisco. Big Big News writer Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed” is omitted in the rewrite.)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about migrant relocation

What is the controversy between California and Florida regarding the transfer of migrants?

California officials have raised concerns and criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for allegedly orchestrating the transfer of migrants from Texas to Sacramento without proper authorization. The arrival of these migrants on chartered flights has sparked a political feud between the two states, with California leaders hinting at a potential criminal investigation.

Who organized the transfer of migrants to Sacramento?

The transfer of migrants to Sacramento was apparently arranged by Vertol Systems Co., a Florida-based aviation company hired by the Florida government to assist with migrant transportation. However, Florida officials and Vertol Systems have not confirmed their involvement in these specific transfers.

What actions have California officials taken regarding the situation?

California Governor Gavin Newsom expressed strong criticism towards Governor DeSantis, calling him a “small, pathetic man” on Twitter. He also suggested that California might pursue kidnapping charges against DeSantis. Additionally, California Attorney General Rob Bonta is conducting an investigation into the matter to determine if any crimes were committed.

How are the migrants being treated upon arrival in Sacramento?

Upon arrival in Sacramento, the migrants were temporarily held at the airport, provided with food, and later transported to a religious institution. Sacramento County social workers are on their way to assess the needs of the migrants and provide appropriate support and services.

What is the background of Governor DeSantis’ migrant relocation program?

Governor DeSantis has made the migrant relocation program a priority in Florida. The state has allocated millions of dollars through the legislative process to facilitate the transportation of migrants to other locations. Vertol Systems Co. was one of three vendors selected by DeSantis’ administration to carry out the program. This program has been a subject of controversy and has previously involved flights transporting migrants from Texas to other states.

More about migrant relocation

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