In the second such politically motivated stunt in three days, a second group of migrants arrived via private jet in Sacramento on Monday — and while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hasn't publicly taken credit, he's likely about to, and the move appears to have his fingerprints all over it.
A group of sixteen migrants from Venezuela and Colombia arrived in the state capital on Friday morning, and were dropped off outside church. The group, carrying only backpacks, appeared to have been lured under false pretenses out of El Paso, Texas to board a bus to New Mexico and then a small plane to Sacramento, which was operated by the same company that DeSantis used to ship a group of migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard last September.
In both this and the previous case, DeSantis was taking a page out of the playbook of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, making a political statement about immigration policy by shipping unknowing migrants to liberal enclaves for political points.
Now, as the Chronicle reports and as Attorney General Rob Bonta's office has confirmed, a second jet-load of migrants was brought to Sacramento Monday morning using the same jet out of Deming, New Mexico.
Governor Gavin Newsom said to DeSantis Monday morning, via tweet, "You small, pathetic man. This isn't Martha's Vineyard." And he posted a piece of California's penal code defining kidnapping.
Bonta and Newsom said over the weekend that they would be investigating Friday's incident as a possible act of kidnapping — and by all accounts, the migrants did not know where they were being taken.
As the New York Times noted Sunday, DeSantis has a fundraiser scheduled for next week in Sacramento, and he's had a habit of using the Martha's Vineyard stunt as an applause line at similar fundraisers.
Neither DeSantis's office nor his campaign have yet to comment on the latest stunt, assuming he is the one behind. Governor Greg Abbott's spokesperson, however, has confirmed to the Chronicle that Abbott has not sent any migrants to California.
It's a gross and bizarre stunt no matter how you slice it, but just in the Martha's Vineyard incident, DeSantis appears to be using taxpayer dollars to relocate migrants who never even set foot in Florida.
"We have documents indicating the state of Florida’s involvement,” Bonta said, per the Chronicle. “From what we have, we’re relatively confident this is the state of Florida. They have not issued a denial."
The documents, per the Times, came from the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The migrants on the first plane apparently described being approached by someone in El Paso who told them, in broken Spanish, that they had to sign some document as a condition of boarding a plane to Sacramento — but "not all had understood where they were going and not all had signed."
Bonta called the action "morally bankrupt," and potentially "state-sponsored kidnapping."
As with the first group of arriving migrants, the city of Sacramento, local nonprofits, and the state are working to shelter them and address their needs. Newsom said in a weekend statement that California would "ensure the people who have arrived are treated with respect and dignity, and get to their intended destination as they pursue their immigration cases."
In early May, DeSantis signed a new bill into law authorizing $12 million in Florida taxpayer funds for an immigrant relocation program — but it remains unclear why Floridians would endorse using these funds to round up people in El Paso with no stated desire to go to Florida.
Newsom likely stoked some ire in DeSantis on several occasions in the last year when he — sounding like he, too, was a candidate for president — has publicly criticized the Florida governor over a number of issues.
After DeSantis took a shot at Newsom's hair gel last fall, Newsom openly challenged DeSantis to a debate — even though they are not running in any race together. And in April, Newsom called DeSantis "scared to death" and "scared of the people," after DeSantis signed a new, permitless concealed-carry gun law just a week after a mass shooting in Nashville.