By Rebecca Shabad - NBC News
The state of Florida helped organize the flights that transported a group of immigrants to Sacramento, California, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management confirmed Tuesday in a statement, after several days of accusations by California authorities.
"Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated that they wanted to go to California," the agency spokesman said in a statement, responding to California Attorney General Rob Bonta's assertion that Florida was likely responsible for the two flights with immigrants that landed in Sacramento, the state capital.
[California investigates private flight that took 16 immigrants to Sacramento and left them 'dumped' outside a church]
"As you can see from this video, Florida's voluntary relocation is just that: voluntary," the statement said, adding that a contractor was present and made sure the immigrants, flown in from Texas, arrived safely to a nongovernmental organization.
The state agency also referred to Bonta's comment that "state-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy option, it is immoral and repugnant."
The migrants were flown in from Texas, the official confirmed. Julio Cortez / AP
"From the leftist mayors of El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the U.S. border is not new, but suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it is fake incarceration and kidnapping," the agency stated. Bonta's office did not respond to a request for comment.
[A second flight with migrants arrives in Sacramento from the border and California blames Florida for these transfers]
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, reacted to the flights Monday on Twitter by disqualifying DeSantis and referencing the state's kidnapping laws.
"@RonDeSantis you are a pathetic little man. This is not Martha's Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?" he tweeted.
Migrants denounce that Florida puts them on planes "with stories." Activists call for 'fraud tactics'
June 5, 202302:03
In 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination for 2024, flew 50 immigrants, mostly Venezuelans, from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, without warning.
DeSantis said the flights were intended to highlight the crisis at the southern border, while Democrats and immigration activists said they turned vulnerable people into political pawns.
Bonta said Monday he was investigating whether the people transferred to Sacramento were part of a "plan" by the state of Florida and could lead to "civil or criminal actions against the state of Florida or any of its employees or officers, as well as private providers who were hired."