A second plane with migrants arrives in California 4:41
(WABNEWS) — The state of Florida claimed responsibility for the transfer of migrants from El Paso, Texas, to Sacramento, California, on private flights, assuring that it was a voluntary relocation, according to a statement sent to WABNEWS by the Director of Communications from Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), Alecia Collins.
“The Florida voluntary relocation is just that: voluntary. Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated that they wanted to go to California. A contractor was present and ensured they reached an outside NGO safely. The NGO in issue, Catholic Charities, is used and funded by the federal government,” the statement said.RELATED
In response to WABNEWS’s questions about the two private flights that transported a total of 36 migrants to Sacramento, the FDEM sent out a list of previous “Relocation Programs” that have been implemented. And in that line he added: “From the left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those who cross the border illegally from the United States is not new. But, suddenly, when Florida sends immigrants undocumented to a sanctuary city, it is about illegal detention and a kidnapping”.
For their part, authorities in El Paso, Texas, responded to the migrant flights and said they “did not participate in or were consulted about this activity.”
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser told WABNEWS the city does not transfer asylum seekers anywhere else and is unaware of the circumstances surrounding the recent flights.
“There was no consultation with the city, nor was any information shared with us,” Leeser said in a statement. “We would never use people for a political stunt or transport anyone where they didn’t want to go.”
Last week, “individuals representing a private contractor” approached the migrants at a center in El Paso, according to the nonprofit Sacramento ACT. The 16 migrants from Venezuela and Colombia were promised help getting jobs, clothing and housing if they accepted transportation to a different migrant center, the organization reported. The group was then taken by bus to New Mexico, airlifted to California and finally dropped off in front of a Sacramento church on Friday.
For its part, the California Attorney General’s Office linked the migrant flights to the state of Florida and its contractor, Vertol Systems Company Inc., an aviation company that is also behind the flights to Martha’s Vineyard in the fall of 2022.
The Prosecutor’s Office pointed out that the same plane, chartered by Vertol, is responsible for a second flight to Sacramento on Monday.
California opens investigation
Last week, California authorities announced an investigation into flights that brought several people to Sacramento on a private plane “without any prior arrangement or care,” as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
California state officials met Saturday with the group, which had documentation “purporting to be from the state government of Florida,” Bonta said.
The attorney general is investigating the incident and “assessing possible criminal or civil actions against those who transported or arranged the transport of these vulnerable migrants,” Bonta said in a statement.
According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the circumstances surrounding who paid for the group’s travel and whether the migrants were misled by false promises will be investigated.
Amid the humanitarian crisis on the southern border of the United States, Republican governors and local officials in southern states have also bused migrants to New York and other more liberal cities.
Many of those heading to the United States make long and dangerous journeys in the hope of finding a better and safer life for their families. According to experts, people migrate to flee violence, in search of economic opportunities or to reunite with their families.
“California and the Sacramento community will welcome these individuals with open arms and offer them the respect, compassion and care they need after such a harrowing experience,” Bonta said.
With information from Melissa Alonso and Nouran Salahieh.