California’s attorney general is investigating whether the government of the state of Florida played any role in sending more than a dozen migrants to the California capital of Sacramento without advance notice.
Representatives of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did not immediately respond on Sunday to a request for comment.
DeSantis last year arranged to transport dozens of migrants to the Massachusetts vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard as part of a campaign by Republican governors in Texas and Florida to shift some of the immigration burden to Democratic-run cities further north.
The buses and planes of migrants have increased partisan tension on immigration, as DeSantis pursues the 2024 Republican nomination for president.
Sixteen asylum-seekers from Venezuela and Colombia were dropped off at the doorstep of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday, The Los Angeles Times reported, citing officials.
They had initially been taken by bus from Texas to New Mexico and then flown by private jet to Sacramento, California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement issued on Saturday.
Attorney General Rob Bonta, also a Democrat, said in a separate statement that California was investigating whether there was criminal or civil liability for those who arranged the flight.
Initial findings revealed the migrants possessed documentation “purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida,” Bonta 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,” Bonta said, adding that California would welcome the migrants “with open arms.”
Responding to the Martha’s Vineyard incident, DeSantis told supporters last year that, “There may be more flights, there may be buses.”
Florida paid $615,000 to an aviation company as part of a “relocation program of unauthorized aliens,” Florida state data showed.