California officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding 16 migrants who were flown to California and dropped off at a church.
The migrants traveled to the U.S. from Venezuela and Columbia. Documents they were carrying indicated their private flight may have been arranged by the State of Florida, which is leading authorities to consider legal action against the Florida officials who may be responsible.
“We are investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants.”
Bonta added, “While we collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting.”
The 16 migrants were initially transported by bus from El Paso to New Mexico, where they boarded the flight to Sacramento. Upon arrival, they were dropped off at the doorstep of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, the LA Times reported. When someone at the Diocese opened the door, two men said they would return, but drove off, leaving the group of migrants on the doorstep.
Over the past few years, there has been fierce debate over the transportation of migrants from border states, where local officials have neither the financial nor human capital to handle the massive influx of asylum seekers.
Authorities in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida have suggested that more left-leaning states that have called themselves “sanctuary states” for illegal aliens make good on that promise and take in asylum seekers to help relieve the pressure placed on border states.
As a result, thousands of migrants have been sent from border states to cities including New York and Chicago, both of which are now struggling to cope with the migrant surge that was previously limited to a handful of smaller border cities and towns.
“Today, Attorney General Rob Bonta and I met with over a dozen migrants in Sacramento. These individuals were transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento and dumped on the doorstep of a local church without any advance warning,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
“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,” he added. “My Administration is also working with the California Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances around 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.”
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