The Florida Division of Emergency Management on Tuesday confirmed the state was behind recent migrant flights to California amid a growing feud between the Golden State’s Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Sunshine State’s Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
“From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new,” division of emergency management spokesperson Alecia Collins said in a statement to The Hill. “But suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s false imprisonment and kidnapping.”
She added that a “contractor was present and ensured they made it safely to a 3rd-party NGO,” which she said was Catholic Charities. The Hill has reached out to Catholic Charities for comment.
Her statement came after the division released a video purportedly showing migrants getting ready to board one of the planes.
“As you can see from this video, Florida’s voluntary relocation is precisely that – voluntary. Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated they wanted to go to California,” Collins said.
The video shared with The Hill does not explicitly mention whether the passengers were there voluntarily but shows individuals looking at and signing documents in videos and photos. The video also includes footage of individuals on a party bus and of individuals walking toward a plane on a tarmac with luggage.
Sixteen South American migrants were dropped off outside the Roman Catholic church in Sacramento last week, a move that California had immediately suspected Florida was responsible for. Eddie Carmona, campaign director at faith-based organization PICO California, said at the time that the migrants had no idea where they were being dropped off, adding they “were lied to and intentionally deceived.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said in a statement Saturday he met with the migrants who were brought to Sacramento on a private plane, noting that there was “no prior arrangement or care in place” for them. He said the migrants were carrying documentation from Florida.
He and Newsom also said that the state will be investigating the situation, as well as who funded the flight. Bonta and Newsom have both suggested that “kidnapping” charges could be on the table over the flight.
Newsom called DeSantis a “small, pathetic man” over the flight last week, writing on Twitter, “This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?”
DeSantis authorized a flight carrying dozens of migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. last September as part of a migrant relocation effort. The sheriff’s office in Bexar County, Texas, filed a criminal case with the county district attorney over the matter, alleging unlawful restraint charges.
A second flight of migrants landed in Sacramento on Monday, with Bonta saying that officials will investigate “the circumstances by which they were brought to California.” He added that “State-sanctioned kidnapping is immoral” on Twitter.
Over the past year, several Republican governors have authorized busing or flying thousands of migrants to Democrat-led cities in protest of federal immigration policies at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Updated at 7:33 p.m. EDT.