California Attorney General Rob Bonta came down hard on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his treatment of immigrants. Bonta accused DeSantis of being "morally bankrupt" and "disgusting" for using undocumented migrants to further his "political ambitions." In addition, the attorney general said documentation was found proving that the illegals were sent from Florida and dropped off at the door of a church in Sacramento. He announced that his department is preparing legal action which will be taken once it is confirmed who transported or prepared what he called "state-sanctioned kidnapping."
— Rob Bonta (@RobBonta) June 5, 2023
The immigrants traveled from El Paso to Sacramento with a stopover in New Mexico
Last weekend, 16 immigrants were found outside a Catholic church in Sacramento. The undocumented immigrants, mainly Venezuelans and Colombians, were transported by bus from El Paso to New Mexico, from where they were flown by private plane to California. There they were picked up by two men who took them to the door of the diocese building, leaving them after promising to come back for them, which never happened.
According to investigators, the migrants were allegedly contacted by a private contractor in El Paso. An ABC Sacramento affiliate for KXTV reported that this person got them on board by promising them work, free support and help getting into a migrant center. The affiliate cited the Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT).
After meeting with those affected, Bonta issued a harsh statement, stressing that the transfer was carried out "with no prior arrangement or care." The attorney general did not want to jump the gun until the investigation is concluded, but, amid harsh criticism, said that all indications point to Florida and DeSantis. He also stressed that Sacramento and California welcome these immigrants "with open arms."
While this is still under investigation, we can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida. 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. We are a nation built by immigrants and we must condemn the cruelty and hateful rhetoric of those, whether they are state leaders or private parties, who refuse to recognize humanity and who turn their backs on extending dignity and care to fellow human beings. California and the Sacramento community will welcome these individuals with open arms and provide them with the respect, compassion, and care they will need after such a harrowing experience.
DeSantis is accused of using immigrants to support his "political ambitions"
Exploiting vulnerable human beings for cheap political points is small, weak & shameful
— Rob Bonta (@RobBonta) June 5, 2023
In statements to the San Francisco Chronicle, the attorney general directly attacked DeSantis, who he considers to be ultimately responsible for what happened. He believes DeSantis was politically motivated. "It’s a disgusting, inhumane, cruel and callous political stunt to support one man’s presidential ambitions," he said. Again, he stressed that he is "prepared to take civil and criminal action if the facts and the law support it."
The Martha's Vineyard precedent
California authorities recalled last year's precedent when two chartered planes from Florida flew a group of undocumented immigrants picked up in Texas to Martha's Vineyard. On that occasion, Florida's Communications Director Taryn Fenske admitted the state was responsible for the shipment, which was not the case this time.