SACRAMENTO, CA– Officials in California have launched an investigation after reports that the State of Florida may have paid for 16 migrants to be flown from Texas to California and abandoned in front of a church.
The Colombian and Venezuelan migrants, who entered the U.S. from the Texas border, were left at the front steps of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday.
Eddie Carmona, of the faith-based group PICO California, told reporters that the migrants were approached outside a migrant center in El Paso, Texas by “individuals representing a private contractor,” offering them jobs and travel assistance.
They were then transported to New Mexico before being flown by a charter plane to California.
Carmona claims that the migrants were not told and did not know, that they were going to be shipped to Sacramento. Many of the migrants arrived with few belongings, he said.
“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,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement late Saturday.
Tara Gallegos, a spokesperson for Rob Bonta, further explained that the documents said the migrants were transported through a program run by Florida’s Division of Emergency Management and carried out by contractor Vertol Systems Co.
“This is Gov. DeSantis, this is his baby, this is his project, his fingerprints are all over it,” Bonta said. “The governor signed it, the Legislature approved to fund it in the budget, and they hired Vertol Systems Co., a vendor, to carry out the work.”
He added: “It’s DeSantis being exactly who he is and advertising to the world that he is petty, little … and full of political stunts that hurt, harm and abuse and exploit people to try and get cheap political points. It’s wrong.”
Bonta also reported that Florida spent $1.56 million last year with the same contractor to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, and to Massachusetts.
“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,” Bonta said in a statement.
U.S. immigration officials said that they had already processed the young women and men and they were each given court dates for their asylum cases.