HomeBreaking NewsFlorida Officials Confirm State Behind Shipment of Migrants to California

Florida Officials Confirm State Behind Shipment of Migrants to California

In a tweet Monday California Governor Gavin Newsom blasted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after a group of 16 migrants was abandoned in Sacramento late last week.

A group of 16 migrants from Venezuela and Colombia were flown in from a Texas immigration center and dropped off in front of the Catholic Archdiocese in Sacramento, California on June 2.

A second group of migrants arrived by plane June 5, and were also dropped off in Sacramento. The contractor operating the flight appears to be the same in both cases: Vertol Systems.

After several days of silence, Florida officials confirmed on Tuesday the state had transported the migrants, insisting the flights were voluntary and that the migrants had given their written consent prior to being flown to California.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta disputed those remarks, telling reporters the migrants had been promised employment and that they did not know where they were being taken. Bonta said earlier in the week the move is equivalent to human trafficking.

“As was the case with the migrants who arrived on Friday, the migrants who arrived today carried documents indicating that their transportation to California involved the state of Florida,” he said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential contender, has so far not commented publicly on the issue.

The migrants were lured by Vertol — which last year transported hundreds of migrants from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts — and falsely promised jobs and housing. But once the migrants arrived in Sacramento, they were essentially abandoned there, as Vertol contractors fled and did not return.

The migrants’ documents said they were transported through a program run by Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. Several of them have upcoming asylum hearings in jurisdictions thousands of miles away, including New York and Chicago. It remains unclear as to whether the migrants will be able to attend their critical day in court.

’You Small, Pathetic Man’

California Governor Gavin Newsom characterized the action as kidnapping. In a June 5 tweet, he cited a portion of California’s penal code: “Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.”

“Ron DeSantis, you small pathetic man. This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard,” Newsom tweeted. Newsom and DeSantis have been trading barbs over the past few months. In the tweet, Newsom threatened DeSantis with kidnapping charges.

In a June 3 press statement, Newsom said: “These individuals were transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento and dumped on the doorstep of a local church without any advance warning.” 

Kidnapping Charges?

“My administration is working with the California Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances around who paid for the group’s travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping,” said Newsom.

“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 in a June 3 press statement. “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.”

The group of migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard have filed a class action suit against DeSantis and Vertol. Lawyers in that case flew to California Tuesday to meet with the migrants in Sacramento to determine if they might be qualified to join in the suit, the Washington Post reports.

Bonta added, “State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice: it is immoral and disgusting. We are a nation built by immigrants and we must condemn the cruelty and hateful rhetoric of those, whether they are state leaders or private parties, who refuse to recognize humanity and who turn their backs on extending dignity and care to fellow human beings.”


“California and the Sacramento community will welcome these individuals with open arms and provide them with the respect, compassion, and care they will need after such a harrowing experience,” said Bonta.

“The ones that I’ve spoken to — they feel they’ve been lied to; some of them have said they were abandoned,” Cecilia Flores, who works with Sacramento ACT, told The New York Times. “They couldn’t understand why anyone would do something like that.”

The group, she said, did not include children and appeared to be made up of young women and men under the age of 40. Many of them were seeking asylum in the United States, but none of the migrants, to her knowledge, had intended to go to Sacramento.

Sacramento ACT and other organizations are working to find the migrants secure housing and to help with their next steps, reported the Times.

This is a developing story and will be updated over the coming days as new developments emerge.


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