The immigrants had documentation indicating that the state of Florida arranged their transportation. A spokesperson for the attorney general's office, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the documents appear to show that the Florida Division of Emergency Management arranged the flight and was part of the state's migrant transportation program.
The contractor for the illegal immigrants' travel to Sacramento was Vertol Systems Co., which arranged similar flights that took dozens of illegal immigrants from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard last year.
The 16 illegal immigrants from Venezuela and Colombia were first transported by bus from El Paso to New Mexico, then took the flight to Sacramento and were dropped off at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday. Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, Jaime Soto, expressed gratitude to partner organizations who took up hospitality work, dedicating their time and resources to ensure that every migrant did not feel alone and abandoned.
Republican governors like Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida have gained national attention for shipping illegal immigrants to Democratic-controlled "sanctuary cities." California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that his office and the California Department of Justice are working together "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."
California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said on Saturday that his office is "investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California." He added, "We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants. While this is still under investigation, we can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the state of Florida."
Newsom has seemingly spent more time on social media attacking DeSantis, Abbott, and Republican policies than issues affecting California. He even launched a political action committee to support Democrats running in red states.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a statement on Saturday that "Human trafficking is not only despicable; it's a felony. ... Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?"