California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s, D, public feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, took a new turn on Monday, following the transport from New Mexico to Sacramento of dozens of South American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S..
The flights were arranged by the same contractor that transported migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last year, The Los Angeles Times reported. That incident allegedly happened under the direction of DeSantis as part of a publicity stunt to demonstrate the Florida governor’s decidedly anti-immigration stance.
The California Department of Justice is investigating the matter, to determine who paid for the trips, and whether the migrants were misled into flying, as well as possibly what course of action might be taken following that inquiry. California Attorney General Rob Bonta, D, has said that he has evidence that the two flights — one transferring 16 migrants to Sacramento on Friday, the other sending 20 more migrants on Monday — were part of a “scheme” perpetrated by Florida officials, adding that it’s become “official policy of the state of Florida whereby the state of Florida used public tax dollars” to transport migrants to Democratic Party strongholds under false pretenses.
It’s unclear as of yet whether these migrants, who are from Venezuela and Colombia, were tricked into boarding the two planes or not. In the trips to Martha’s Vineyard, migrants were promised jobs and places to live, only to land and find out that those promises were made simply to convince them and their families into taking the trip.
In response to the migrants being transported to California’s capital city, Newsom insinuated that DeSantis played a hand in orchestrating the plot and had broken state kidnapping statutes.
Calling him a “small, pathetic man,” Newsom suggested he would take greater legal actions than Massachusetts did when migrants were transported there in 2022.
“This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?” Newsom tweeted.
Newsom shared in his tweet an image of a California statute outlining part of the state’s kidnapping laws. That portion reads:
Every person who, being out of this state, abducts or takes by force or fraud any person contrary to the law of the place where that act is committed, and brings, sends, or conveys that person within the limits of this state, and is afterwards found within the limits thereof, is guilty of kidnapping.
As of Tuesday morning, the normally outspoken DeSantis has not yet responded to the allegations that he was involved in this round of transporting migrants to other states. Bonta, in statements he made to local media in Sacramento, appeared convinced that DeSantis was involved, and blasted the Florida governor for his actions.
“This is Gov. DeSantis’ state of Florida, this is his cruel, inhumane political stunt. Manipulating human beings, people, for whatever cheap political points he wants to get in his run for presidency,” Bonta said, referencing DeSantis’s recent announcement as a Republican candidate for president in the 2024 election.
California officials aren’t the only ones warning DeSantis and others that they may have broken the law. After months of investigating the Martha’s Vineyard migrant trips, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, whose jurisdiction is near San Antonio, Texas, has recommended to the local district attorney’s office that criminal charges be filed relating to that action. Salazar’s office has not yet stated who is the subject of the investigation, but charges would involve both felony and misdemeanor levels of unlawful restraint, The Washington Post reported.