The governor of Florida and now also a candidate for the 2024 Republican primary, Ron DeSantis, continues with his policy of not accepting undocumented immigrants. He even picks them up at other points of the national geography before they enter the state and takes them to other states without informing it.
This has happened again twice within a week. On Friday 16 Venezuelans and Colombians were taken by air to Sacramento, California, and on Monday it was the turn of a second group of 20.
The groups were picked up in El Paso, Texas, when officials from Ron DeSantis’ office contacted them and convinced them to accompany them by road to New Mexico. There they put them on private planes and deposited them in front of the Catholic Church building in Sacramento. All this without notifying the California authorities.
This alerted Gov. Gavin Newsom, who lashed out at DeSantis.
In Florida, the authorities maintained an initial silence until Tuesday, when they admitted that they were behind the transfer and said that everything was done at the request of the Venezuelans and voluntarily.
“Florida voluntary relocation is just that: voluntary. Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated that they wanted to go to California,” Alecia Collins, a Florida emergency management spokeswoman, said in a statement Tuesday.
The statement included a link to a video of Spanish-speakers apparently traveling voluntarily, with one man claiming to have made it to California and others saying they were well treated on their trip. This Wednesday the video was removed from the Florida governor’s page.
Meanwhile, Governor Newsom accused his Florida counterpart of “kidnapping” based on the local laws.
In accordance with Florida law, the relocation program is designed to prevent the entry of undocumented immigrants, which the governor’s office says costs the state millions of dollars.
DeSantis has organized several similar flights in the past year to drop off undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts, primarily on Martha’s Vineyard.
Florida is not considered a sanctuary state for documented immigrants. Even a state law, which was adopted a couple of years ago, prohibits cities or counties from declaring themselves protectors like other towns in the country.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in an interview with the network abc that the migrants were misled “based on direct conversations I had with several of them who indicated that they were promised help finding work if they got on the plane and after they got off.”
But instead of receiving help “they were abandoned,” he stressed. “They were deceived, they were lied to and that is morally cruel, it is inhumane, it is wrong,” Bonta added.