In a heated exchange, California Governor Gavin Newsom appeared to threaten Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with kidnapping charges on Monday after the arrival of a second planeload of migrants in Sacramento.
DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate in 2024, has been flying migrants to Democratic-controlled states as a form of protest against President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. Last September, DeSantis arranged for nearly 50 migrants to fly from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy resort island in Massachusetts. While Florida officials have not commented on the recent flights to Sacramento, documentation was found among the migrants purporting to be from the government of Florida.
“@RonDeSantis you small, pathetic man,” Newsom tweeted this week. “This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?” he added while including a screenshot of California’s legal code on kidnapping. The first planeload of over a dozen migrants arrived in Sacramento last week, originally from Colombia and Venezuela. The group had crossed the US border into Texas and were transported to New Mexico before boarding a plane.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta is evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants. “State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,” he said in a statement. PICO California, a faith-based group helping the migrants, claimed that they did not know they were being taken to California and were approached by people offering them jobs.
The second planeload of around 20 migrants, mainly from Venezuela, arrived in Sacramento on Monday, according to the New York Times. One migrant, Wilkendri Rodriguez, 23, told the newspaper that he had been approached by four people in El Paso, Texas and asked if he wanted to go to California. “I don’t know what is their motivation to organize these trips,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s political or part of the government. They didn’t tell us anything.”
It was revealed that the same company, Vertol Systems, as well as the state of Florida, had been involved in both operations. Separately on Monday, a Texas sheriff investigating the migrant flights last September from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard recommended criminal charges. A criminal investigation found the migrants were lured onto flights with false promises of jobs and opportunities on the other end, according to the Miami Herald.