Someone — possibly a certain governor from Florida — arranged to have sixteen immigrants bussed from Texas to New Mexico and then flown by private jet to Sacramento, where they were dropped off outside a church Friday not knowing where they were.
Much in the style of Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Governor Greg Abbott of Texas — who last year bussed and flew migrants to Washington D.C., New York, and Martha's Vineyard in order to score points with Fox News viewers — someone or some group arranged a charter flight Friday for the immigrants. They were dropped off outside the Sacramento Diocese Office, apparently having been told they would be given jobs, and according to faith organization Sacramento ACT, "they had no idea where they were."
"They were lied to and intentionally deceived," says Eddie Carmona, campaign director at another faith organization, PICO California, which is assisting the migrants, speaking to the Associated Press.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta says that his office has begun investigating, and he is calling it a possible act of "state-sponsored kidnapping," per the Chronicle.
Governor Gavin Newsom put out a statement saying that his office was working with Bonta's 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."
Newsom added, "We are working closely with the Mayor’s office, along with local and nonprofit partners to ensure the people who have arrived are treated with respect and dignity, and get to their intended destination as they pursue their immigration cases."
The migrants, reportedly mostly young men with a few women, all hail from Colombia and Venezuela, and they were reportedly carrying documents that appeared to come from the state of Florida. They had been bussed from El Paso Texas, as the New York Times reports, to Deming, New Mexico, where they took off Friday morning from Deming Municipal Airport. The Sacramento Bee reported that the 16 were flown on a de Havilland Dash 8-200 twin turboprop operated by Barry Aviation — and a spokesperson for that company said the flight was "something that the government ran."
The Florida documents, according to Bonta's office, listed a company that the state of Florida had previously hired to fly migrants to Martha's Vineyard from San Antonio, at the behest of DeSantis last September. That company is called Vertol Systems Company Inc., and as the Times reported last year, they were paid over $1.5 million by the state of Florida for the Martha's Vineyard charter.
DeSantis, at the time, was trying to score political points by copying something that Abbott had earlier done in a much more sweeping fashion, bussing 11,000 migrants out of Texas to Washington, New York, and Chicago.
DeSantis has yet to comment or take credit for the flight to Sacramento.
"Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg in a statement. “Sacramento represents the best of American values. We always welcome ‘the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses,’ and we always will."
Newsom has been trading public barbs with DeSantis for many months, perhaps presaging a political contest in future years, assuming Newsom runs for president at some point. As the Times notes, DeSantis is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in Sacramento on June 19, and he has frequently mentioned the Martha's Vineyard stunt at such events, as an applause line.
Top image: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (L), Wade Crowfoot, CNRA Secretary (R), and Chuck Bonham, CDFW Director (2-L) walk along the Lower Yuba River to the Daguerre Point Dam on May 16, 2023 in Marysville, California. The Daguerre Point Dam, built in 1906 and owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is a debris dam to hold back mining debris from the Gold Rush. Governor Newsom joined State, Local and Federal Officials to announced agreemento to reopen Yuba River to chinook salmon and sturgeon and launch river restoration by building fishways for the fish to swim around the dam. (Photo by John G. Mabanglo-Pool/Getty Images)