California accuses Florida of shipping migrants as plane with more arrives in Sacramento
"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," California's Democrat attorney general said.
Two privately chartered planes carrying Latin American migrants from New Mexico have arrived in Sacramento since Friday, and California officials are blaming Florida for flying migrants to the state's capital.
After the first plane arrived, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, said Saturday that he met with the migrants and could confirm they possessed documents purporting to be from the Florida State government.
"We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants," Bonta said. "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."
The migrants carried papers showing that the flight had been "administered by the Florida Division of Emergency Management" and Florida-based private air and defense contractor Vertol Systems Company, California officials told The New York Times.
A second plane arrived Monday carrying 20 migrants, mostly from Venezuela. One of the migrants on the plane, 28-year-old Venezuelan David Mata, said he arrived in the United States about two weeks ago but he did not know who organized the fully-paid flight to Sacramento.
It is unclear whether the group that arrived Monday had similar documents as the group on Friday, but a state Justice Department official said it seemed that the state of Florida and the same contractor were involved.
Both groups of migrants started their journey to California in El Paso, where they were taken to a New Mexico municipal airport about 100 miles away before being flown to Sacramento.
Vertol was also reportedly involved in the operation last September when Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis sent two planeloads of migrants to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Some of those migrants have since filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and other state officials, but the case was dismissed in April.
DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, has not commented on the matter, nor has his staff.