Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd of supporters at PGT Innovations in Venice, Florida, on Feb. 28, 2023. Photo by Mike Lang, Reuters

(CALMATTERS) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration took credit Tuesday for shipping 36 asylum-seeking migrants to Sacramento over the past week, prompting another round of political shots between Florida officials and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.  

In a written statement, a spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management characterized the migrants as willing and informed passengers on the private flights that carried them from El Paso, Texas, to California.

The spokesperson, Amelia Johnson, also rebuked Newsom for his tweet suggesting he wanted to bring kidnapping charges against DeSantis.

  • Johnson: “From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new. But suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s false imprisonment and kidnapping.”

She released a video of smiling migrants talking in Spanish about how they are being helped. Florida has budgeted $12 million for its migrant relocation program.

But advocates and officials in California say the migrants were lured from Texas with false promises of job opportunities and other services – and didn’t know they would end up in California.

  • Anthony York, Newsom spokesperson: “This is exploitative propaganda being peddled by a politician who has shown there are no depths he won’t sink to in his desperate effort to score a political point.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also had something to say about the state’s unexpected guests: “Bring it on.” Steinberg, who met several of the migrants Monday night, avoided mentioning Florida on Tuesday, but said whoever is responsible for the flights committed an “evil” and “a terrible wrong.”

Nonprofits, faith leaders and volunteers, with help from the city and county, have provided or plan to provide the migrants with clothing, medical care, legal aid, counseling, dental services, haircuts and more. Anyone who wants to donate can do so at www.sacact.org.

  • Steinberg: “Our community will never say no. To the people who wonder whether or not we can handle this on top of the real challenges we face in our community, there is no other answer but to say yes. And you better believe we can handle it.”