Photo: Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images
Photo: Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Florida behind migrant flight to Sacramento says California Attorney General Rob Bonta


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Sixteen Venezuelan and Colombian migrants were unexpectedly flown in from Texas and left outside a church building in Sacramento, California on Friday, June 2, under the false promise of obtaining work if they agreed to be flown from a migrant facility in El Paso to northern California. 

The migrants were approached outside the facility by individuals claiming to be from a private contractor and offered to help them get to a center where they would receive job assistance, shelter, clothing, and other amenities according to state and nonprofit officials.

According to California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the paperwork that migrants shared with authorities showed migrants were instructed to sign and initial waivers saying they agreed “to participate in the state of Florida’s voluntary transportation program,” with the understanding that “this program is administered by the Florida Division of Emergency Management” and that “a contractor for this program is Vertol Systems Company Inc.”

U.S. immigration officials had processed the 16 migrants and given them court dates prior to being approached and subsequently transported. 

The migrants were first transported to New Mexico and flown on a chartered flight to Sacramento, where they were driven to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and left outside with only backpacks containing their belongings.

Bonta said on Sunday that some of the migrants had taken photos and videos of their trip, including capturing images of the people in Texas who had approached them and chaperoned their trip. 

Both California Governor Gavin Newsom and Bonta issued statements over the weekend regarding the migrant arrivals in which Bonta said he’d met with over a “dozen” of the arrivals. 

Bonta also confirmed in his statement that Florida was behind the scheme that saw migrants arrive at the doorsteps of a Catholic diocese with no prior arrangement or care in place. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has chartered private flights for migrants to be flown to sanctuary cities as a part of his over $12 million state-funded program that was given the green light by the GOP-controlled state legislature. 

Authority was later shifted from the DeSantis Administration to the state Division of Emergency Management. This would be the first migrant plane to come from Florida since DeSantis’ 2024 Presidential announcement last month. 

Other than DeSantis, Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has been responsible for the transportation of tens of thousands of migrants from the Lone Star State to Democrat-led cities like Washington, D.C., Chicago and NYC. 

“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,” he 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 state will be investigating how the South American individuals arrived in northern California as well as any potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of the migrants, according to Bonta. 

“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 has yet to publicly comment on the matter and is currently on the campaign trail. The presidential hopeful has a fundraiser scheduled in Sacramento on June 19. 

He’s publicly gone at Newsom over immigration, who has repeatedly denounced his decision to send migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last September. 

In Newsom's statement on Saturday, he said the state Department of Justice would be investigating who paid for the flight and whether they misled anyone with false promises or had violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping.

“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,” he said. 

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