Migrants’ Trip to Sacramento Aboard Private Jet Appears to Have Been Arranged by State of Florida, Officials Say

More than a dozen migrants from South America who were recently flown on a chartered jet from New Mexico and dropped off in Sacramento were carrying documents indicating that their transportation was arranged by the state of Florida, the California attorney general’s office said Sunday.

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The documents appear to show that the flight was arranged through the Florida Division of Emergency Management and that it was part of the state’s migrant transportation program, according to a spokesperson with the attorney general’s office who did not want to be identified.

The contractor for that Florida program is Vertol Systems Co., which coordinated similar flights that took dozens of Venezuelan asylum seekers from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts last year, the spokesperson said. Also last year, eight Venezuelan migrants were flown from Texas to Sacramento.

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta could not be reached for comment Sunday. Officials declined to comment further because the incident remains under investigation.

The 16 migrants from Venezuela and Colombia were initially transported by bus from El Paso to New Mexico, where they boarded the flight to Sacramento, officials said. They were dropped off at the doorstep of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday.

Their arrival, for which no politician or organization has yet to publicly claim responsibility, adds fuel to a controversy over similar ploys by conservative politicians in Republican-led states.

They and their supporters have said the efforts are aimed at raising awareness of the influx of migrants over the southern border and bringing the issue to the doorsteps of authorities in states led by Democrats. Opponents describe the moves as cruel political stunts that use immigrants as pawns and leave them many miles from family, resources and even the courthouses where they are often expected to appear to plead their cases for asylum.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement that he and Bonta, also a Democrat, met on Saturday with more than 12 of the migrants, who “were transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento and dumped on the doorstep of a local church without any advance warning.”

Newsom added that his office and the California Department of Justice are working together “to investigate the circumstances around who paid for the group’s travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping.”

Bonta confirmed that his office is “investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California” in a statement Saturday.

“We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants,” he added. “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.”

The situation in Sacramento is playing out against a backdrop of intense national debate over how to handle the influx of migrants who enter the U.S. across the Mexican border each year. That debate has come to a head in response to similar efforts championed and supported by Republican governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida that have displaced thousands of migrants and generated widespread controversy in recent years.

In September, Abbott bused about 100 migrants to Washington, D.C., where they were dropped off outside the Naval Observatory, the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. That same month, DeSantis — who is now a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination — sent a group of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy liberal haven off the coast of Massachusetts.

Neither governor’s office responded immediately to requests for comment on Sunday.

Newsom has made a habit of attacking DeSantis and Abbott over a host of issues that divide the nation, routinely blasting their stance on immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control and abortion. He launched a political action committee this year aimed at supporting Democrats running in red states. In a video announcing the effort, Newsom said “authoritarian leaders” are a problem for the country as images of DeSantis and Abbott flash across the screen.

Jaime Soto, bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, said in a statement Saturday that the diocese is working with other groups to help the new arrivals.

“The urgency to respond was heard by Catholics and people of goodwill,” he said. “We are thankful to our partner organizations who took up the holy work of hospitality, dedicating their time and resources to ensure that every migrant did not feel alone and abandoned.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for an investigation into the latest incident in a Saturday statement.

“Human trafficking is not only despicable; it’s a felony. … Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?” he said.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times


  1. Hope Florida sends more and to Newccums’s home…he’s such a nasty hypocrite.

  2. Rottweiler says

    Kudos to them, they never asked to be a sanctuary state so we should take care of every individual who runs the border with no questions asked. This feckless, inept, senile president is about as America hating as they get. It is apparent every day, he is out to ruin our country and is destroying it from within without firing a single bullet. I wish impeachment was part of his inclusion.

  3. Robert Dorn says

    I don’t why Newsom is so upset, did he forget that he made us a sanctuary state?

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