A flight carrying about 20 migrants landed in Sacramento, California, on Monday as state authorities investigated the role Florida had played in transporting them from Texas via New Mexico, according to the California attorney general’s office and news reports.
The migrants carried documents that indicated their transportation involved the state of Florida, the California attorney general’s office said. More than a dozen migrants who arrived on Friday carried similar documentation, the office said.
The administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican seeking his party’s presidential nomination in 2024, last year orchestrated a flight carrying dozens of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a liberal Massachusetts vacation island, which critics called a political stunt.
DeSantis said at the time that his administration flew the migrants from Texas to the island getaway because many of the migrants arriving in Florida come from Texas.
Groups representing those migrants have since filed a lawsuit claiming they were misled. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in Texas led an investigation and has recommended the county bring criminal charges, including both felony and misdemeanor charges of unlawful restraint, it said in a statement on Monday.
DeSantis’ office did not respond to requests for comment regarding the Sacramento flights.
Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom called DeSantis a “small, pathetic man” in a tweet, adding: “This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, said over the weekend that his office was investigating how the migrants were transported to the state, including whether criminal or civil charges might be warranted.
“While we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
The Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed an immigration bill in May that sets aside $12 million for the state to transport migrants, among other measures meant to deter illegal immigration.