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Second flight with migrants lands in Sacramento; California officials say Florida arranged trips | News, Sports, Jobs

The offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento are seen in Sacramento, California, Monday, June 5, 2023. Sixteen immigrants from Venezuela and Colombia were brought into the diocese’s offices on Friday, June 2, 2023, after being transferred by plane from Texas to Sacramento. (AP Photo/Tran Nguyen)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Another plane carrying migrants arrived in Sacramento Monday, marking the second flight in recent days that California authorities say was coordinated by Florida.

The flight carrying about 20 migrants that arrived Monday follows the arrival Friday of 16 migrants from Colombia and Venezuela, who were taken from Texas to New Mexico before being loaded on a chartered plane to the California capital. It’s unclear which countries the latest batch of arrivals are from, but their trip appears to have been arranged by the same company, said Tara Gallegos, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Bonta says that he is investigating whether crimes were committed.

The first group of migrants was dropped off at the diocesan headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church in Sacramento.

They were carrying documents saying they were transported through a program run by the Florida Division of Emergency Management and carried out by contractor Vertol Systems Co., Gallegos said. She said that she could not share the documents because they are part of an active investigation.

FILE – California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Sacramento, California, on February 23, 2022. California’s attorney general says the state of Florida appears to have made arrangements to release a group of South American immigrants outside a Sacramento church. Bonta said on Saturday, June 3, 2023, that the people had documents purporting to be from the Florida state government. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Spokesmen for the Florida Division of Emergency Management and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis have not confirmed Florida’s involvement, and Vertol Systems did not respond to requests for comment.

“As we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy option, it is immoral and disgusting.” Bonta said in a statement.

Immigrants entered the United States through Texas. Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for PICO California, a faith-based group that helps immigrants, said US immigration officials. “individuals representing a private contractor” he approached them in front of a migrant center in El Paso, Texas, and offered to help them get jobs and drive them to their final destinations.

“They were intentionally lied to and deceived,” Carmona said, adding that the migrants had no idea where they were after being dropped off in Sacramento. He said they have court dates in cities across the country, not just Texas, and that none of them were intended to end up in California.

Asylum seekers can change the location of their court appearances, but many are reluctant to try, preferring to stick to a set date, at least for their initial appearances. They think it’s a guarantee, even if it’s terribly inconvenient.

DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, has been a fierce critic of federal immigration policy under President Joe Biden and has heavily publicized Florida’s role in past instances in which immigrants were transported to state-led states. by democrats.

He has made the immigrant resettlement program one of his top political priorities, using the state legislative process to commit millions of dollars to it.

Florida paid Vertol Systems $1.56 million last year to transport immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and for a possible second flight to Delaware that never took place. Republican governors of Texas and Arizona have previously sent thousands of migrants by bus to New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, but the rare charter flights are an escalation of tactics.

Before the flight from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last year, DeSantis signed a Republican-backed budget that set aside $12 million to relocate people illegally in the country from Florida to other places.

When questions were raised about the legality of the Martha’s Vineyard fight because it originated in Texas, not Florida, in apparent violation of budget language, DeSantis had Republican lawmakers create a program in his office dedicated to immigrant relocations and specify that the state can transport migrants from locations anywhere in the country.

The DeSantis administration selected three vendors to help transport the migrants.

If the flight is proven to have been organized by Florida, it would escalate a long-running political feud between DeSantis and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The two have offered conflicting views on immigration, abortion, and a host of other issues.

Newsom said in a statement that he also met with newly arrived immigrants and that officials were working to ensure they are “treated with respect and dignity” through this process.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg issued a more strongly worded statement: “Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything crueler than using frightened human beings to score cheap political points?” ___

Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed.

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Find more AP immigration coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/immigration


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