Sixteen Venezuelan and Colombian migrants who entered the country over the southern border and into Texas were flown to California by chartered plane and dropped off outside a church in Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom and migrant rights advocates have said.
The young men and women were dropped off on Friday outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento without ‘advance warning’ and with only a backpack’s worth of belongings each, said Eddie Carmona, campaign director at PICO California, a faith-based community organizing group that has been assisting the migrants.
The migrants had already been processed by U.S. immigration officials and given court dates for their asylum cases when ‘individuals representing a private contractor’ approached them outside a migrant center in El Paso, Texas, Carmona said.
They offered to help the migrants get jobs and get them to their final destination, he said.
16 Venezuelan and Colombian migrants who entered the US via Texas were transported by private plane to Sacramento, California and left outside a church, pictured
A humanitarian group is looking to see if the migrants were deceived and misled and unaware of their whereabouts. Pictured, migrants at the border in Mexico before crossing into the U.S.
‘They were lied to and intentionally deceived,’ Carmona said, adding that the migrants had no idea where they were after being dropped off in Sacramento.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg likened the act to that of human smuggling.
‘Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?’ Steinberg asked in a statement.
‘Sacramento represents the best of American values. We always welcome ‘the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses,’ and we always will.’
Governor Newsom said he and Attorney General Rob Bonta met with the group of migrants on Saturday and learned they were transported from Texas to New Mexico and then flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said he is working with the California Department of Justice to find out whether any criminal wrongdoing took place including who paid for the group’s travel
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who announced his 2024 presidential bid last month, has been heavily criticized for his hardline stance on immigration. He is pictured on Sunday in Iowa
Bonta said the migrants had documents ‘purporting to be from the government of the state of Florida.’
‘State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,’ Bonta wrote.
‘We are a nation built by immigrants and we must condemn the cruelty and hateful rhetoric of those, whether they are state leaders or private parties, who refuse to recognize humanity and who turn their backs on extending dignity and care to fellow human beings,’ he went on.
Bonta said his agency was ‘investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California,’ and was ‘evaluating the potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants.’
Over the last year, Republican governors in Texas and Florida have been busing and flying migrants to Democratic strongholds and so-called Sanctuary Cities including New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., without advance warning
The group said that the migrants all have pending court appearances, and that by transporting them to California under false pretenses, there will be a disruption in their legal due process.
Newsom said he is also working with the California Department of Justice to find out whether any criminal wrongdoing took place including 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.’
‘We are working closely with the Mayor’s office, along with local and nonprofit partners to ensure the people who have arrived are treated with respect and dignity, and get to their intended destination as they pursue their immigration cases,’ Newsom said in a statement.
‘What has occurred recently with the deceiving drop off of our undocumented brothers and sisters into the Sacramento area grieves my heart. This political polarizing act is heartbreaking and yet I rejoice that I am part of a movement that brings the love of God and goodwill upon the injustices and political wickedness that impacts our vulnerable brothers and sisters,’ said the Rev. Efrem Smith, Sacramento ACT president, told the Sacramento Bee.
Rabbi Mona Alfi, of Congregation B’nai Israel told paper that what happened to the migrants was ‘a moral travesty’ and that ‘these are human beings, no different than you or me, who simply want to take care of their families and live a peaceful life, and they deserve to be treated better.’
Over the last year, Republican governors in Texas and Florida have been busing and flying migrants to Democratic strongholds and so-called Sanctuary Cities including New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., without advance warning as part of a campaign to focus attention on what they say are the Biden administration’s failed border policies.
DeSantis, who announced his 2024 presidential bid last month and has been heavily criticized for his hardline stance on immigration, is expected to come to Sacramento himself on June 19 for a fundraising breakfast priced at $3,300 a seat.
Newsom has spoken out — and aired ads in Florida — against DeSantis, whom he labeled ‘America’s chief bully,’ since they were both elected in 2018.