Florida says it’s responsible for transporting migrants to Sacramento

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

(Associated Press)

Florida says it's responsible for transporting migrants to Sacramento

Melanie Mason

June 6, 2023

Florida officials took responsibility on Tuesday for chartered flights that transported migrants to Sacramento, following days of silence


the first group landed in California

on Friday


The transport had been lambasted as potentially illegal by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who raised the potential for kidnapping charges in a Twitter message directed to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday.

Florida officials pushed back on the allegation that the migrants had been transported against their will or under misleading circumstances.

Alecia Collins, a spokesperson for Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, characterized the two flights which arrived Friday and yesterday as a “voluntary relocation.”

“Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated they wanted to go to California. A contractor was present and ensured they made it safely to a 3rd-party NGO. The specific NGO, Catholic Charities, is used and funded by the federal government,” Collins said in a statement.

The statement includes a video showing more than a dozen people signing paperwork and sitting aboard a private plane. It later shows one person saying theyve arrived in California. The video includes images of people smiling and dancing, and one man speaks about his experience migrating through Central America.

Collins said the video portrays the relocation of people who are in the country illegally; it does not specify the origin or destination cities of the flight. Where and when the images were taken could not be independently verified by The Times.

Anthony York, a spokesman for Newsom, slammed the release of the video.

“This is exploitative propaganda being peddled by a politician who has shown there are no depths he wont sink to in his desperate effort to score a political point,” York said in a statement. “Governor Newsom said it best. The Florida governor is small and pathetic, and this video is just another reminder of that.”

York also criticized the DeSantis administration for using Florida taxpayers’ dollars to send migrants from “Texas through New Mexico to California to get votes in Iowa and New Hampshire” a swipe at the Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate campaigning in those pivotal states to secure the GOP nomination.

Sixteen migrants from Venezuela and Colombia were transported from Texas to New Mexico and flown on a chartered jet to Sacramento, where they were dropped off Friday at a church, according to California officials.

On Monday, a plane carrying 20 migrants arrived in Sacramento. Both groups were flown by the same contractor and were carrying documents indicating that their transportation involved the state of Florida, according to officials with the California Department of Justice.

Newsom, along with Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, pointed to DeSantis as the culprit behind the unannounced arrivals well before the state of Florida acknowledged its role. DeSantis himself has not yet commented on the flights, an unusually muted reaction after his similar action last year when he arranged for migrants to be transported from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Collins, in her statement, said that the transportation of migrants across the country is not uncommon, and implied Newsom’s accusation of law-breaking was hypocritical.

“From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new,” she said. “But suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s false imprisonment and kidnapping.”