Florida’s admission that it sent two chartered flights of migrants to California doesn’t mean those involved with the operation won’t face charges, said Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom dismissed the state of Florida’s description of the transport as part of a voluntary relocation aimed at calling attention to the large numbers of migrants seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Newsom said it appears at least some of the migrants were misled and flown to his state under false pretenses, Politico reports. “When you have the smoking gun, which is the paperwork in hand that everyone hands over to you, it’s pretty self-evident,” Newsom said. His comments marked the latest round in an escalating fight between Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — two governors who both won double-digit victories in November, enjoy supermajorities in their state legislatures and have sharply divergent politics. DeSantis, who was in Iowa this week campaigning for president as a hard-right Republican, has directed his state to send migrants to states led by Democrats to protest Biden administration border policies.
Newsom leads a state where migration from Mexico is largely a non-issue to voters. DeSantis and his administration had initially declined to issue any statements about the flights. The migrants' surprise arrival under mysterious circumstances prompted sharp criticism, and a threat of criminal charges, from Newsom and California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who met with some of the migrants over the weekend. “All this does is reinforce the cruelty of this act and the manipulative nature of the act and the stunt that this is — the shameful nature of it,” Newsom added. “We are, we are very serious about pursuing action, if the facts dictate it. And Mr. DeSantis should know that.” The migrants volunteered to be flown to California, according to a statement from Alecia Collins of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.