California investigating Florida after two migrant flights

The 16 migrants are from Colombia and Venezuela. They entered the U.S. through Texas, were...
The 16 migrants are from Colombia and Venezuela. They entered the U.S. through Texas, were transported to New Mexico and then flown by a charter plane to California's capital, California officials said.(Source: CNN)
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 7:21 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - A second group of about 20 migrants are now in California.

California’s attorney general said they arrived on a private flight Monday, assumed to be paid for by Florida taxpayers.

California is already investigating to see if the state of Florida broke any laws after migrants were dropped off outside a church in Sacramento, Cal. over the weekend. The 16 asylum seekers are from Venezuela and Columbia.

Leaders in California said Destin-based “Vertal Systems” picked the migrants up on a private jet in New Mexico.

“We find it quite frankly disgusting,” said Thomas Kennedy, Florida Immigration Coalition spokesman. “We don’t believe people should be used as props. We don’t believe these flights are done in any sort of way to benefit these people.”

Florida started the program last year to send migrants from Florida to places like New York.

“Even across the border, there are people that say they want to come to Florida. Our message is we’re not a sanctuary state,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in September 2022.

Last fall, DeSantis sent two planes carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. The legislature then made it legal to transport migrants from other states, allocating more than $12 million for it in the upcoming budget.

But Republican Representative Mike Beltran doesn’t think Florida taxpayers should pay to move immigrants from other states.

“For the Federal Government, it’s a waste of money. For the state to do it, we’re paying taxes in Florida to protect Florida and provide services in Florida. We shouldn’t be paying to transport people from Texas to Massachusetts,” said Rep. Mike Beltran, (R) Lithia.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the asylum seekers were told they were promised jobs if they got on the plane and now he’s investigating the flight as kidnapping.

“At best it’s potentially illegal. It could violate criminal law. It could violate civil laws,” Bonta said.

Kennedy says the migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard are suing Florida over the flight in federal court.

It cost Florida taxpayers $615,000 for the flights to Martha’s Vineyard last year.

We don’t know how much the California flight cost.

Our Capital Bureau asked the governor’s office and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which oversees the relocation program, about last weekend’s flights.

They have not responded by the time this article was published.