Sixteen migrants were flown on a private jet from New Mexico to Sacramento on last week, many of them carrying documents indicating that their transportation had been arranged by the state of Florida, said California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D-California).
The documents reflected that the travel was organized by the Florida Division of Emergency Management which, according to Bonta, was part of the state’s program to move migrants out of Texas and into other states.
The contractor of the flight appeared to be Vertol Systems Co., which flew Venezuelan asylum seekers from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, last year. State officials have yet to release the documents containing information about Friday’s flight, leaving many unanswered questions concerning how it was arranged.
The office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has not acknowledged any outreach, however, Bonta has speculated that DeSantis was heavily involved.
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“His fingerprints are all over it,” Bonta said, claiming that the Florida government approved the flight and hired Vertol Systems Co. to carry out the work. “It’s DeSantis advertising to the world that he is… full of political stunts that hurt, harm, abuse and exploit people to try and get cheap political points.”
When the migrants from Venezuela and Colombia landed in Sacramento on Friday, they were immediately dropped off at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.
Bonta and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) met with some of the migrants and are investigating the situation, working to uncover any political motivations or violations of any criminal laws, including kidnapping and trafficking.
According to Bonta, many of the Venezuelan migrants told officials that they boarded the flight with the promise of assistance in finding work once they landed in Sacramento. However, the group was greeted at the diocese by two men who quickly drove away after their arrival, leaving them all alone.
The national debate over how to handle the influx of migrants entering the United States across the Mexican border is intense and polarizing.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg (D) has called for an investigation into whether the flight fits the definition of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is not only despicable; it’s a felony,” Steinberg declared on Saturday.
He proclaimed that Sacramento will be a welcoming place for the migrants who arrived last week – and for others who may follow.
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