Officials in Texas, California threaten criminal charges over DeSantis-authorized migrant flights

by | Jun 6, 2023

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces potential legal charges over alleged unauthorized and unlawful deportation of South American migrants to other states.
  • The allegations have caused scrutiny from officials in Texas and California, who argue that the migrants were lured with false promises of jobs and housing.
  • This situation has sparked widespread criticism and legal action, with critics claiming it’s a political move tied to DeSantis’s hardline stance on immigration.

Texas officials have recommended criminal charges to a prosecutor over accusations that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis authorized the unlawful deportation of South American migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. This development arises just as California officials also scrutinize the Florida governor’s actions for similar migrant deportations to Sacramento.

It’s not immediately clear which Florida officials, if any, that the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, under Sheriff Javier Salazar, has filed a criminal case against. The local district attorney will ultimately decide if charges will be filed regarding a flight DeSantis allegedly arranged to transport 49 migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last year, and will also decide whom to charge. The case would hinge on the allegation that the migrants were allegedly lured with false promises of jobs and housing.

Though officials in Martha’s Vineyard had not been informed of the impending arrival of the migrants, predominantly from Venezuela, officials in Republican states defend the relocation actions by pointing out that Martha’s Vineyard and other cities in Democrat-led states claim to be “sanctuary cities.” Such cities and their leaders make it known that they don’t collaborate with with the national government’s immigration enforcement efforts against those who are not authorized to live or work in the United States, and help such people qualify for government protection and benefits.

“The charge filed is unlawful restraint and several accounts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony,” the Bexar county sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, California Governor Gavin Newsom of California has called for kidnapping charges against DeSantis after another incident involving migrants flown to Sacramento. The Bexar County recommendation came shortly after Newsom’s statement on Monday, marking the second time that Florida has engaged in relocating asylum seekers to California.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who confirmed that the migrants were found in possession of documents allegedly issued by the government of Florida, has joined Newsom in expressing outrage over the situation. “State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,” Bonta said.

These allegations and the ensuing legal actions come as DeSantis, who announced his presidential bid in May, faces widespread criticism for what is seen as a political maneuver to bolster his hardline stance on immigration. Last year, he signed a controversial law providing funds to deport undocumented immigrants to other states and invalidating out-of-state driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants.

The incident has drawn criticism from Florida Democrats as well. The Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman, Nikki Fried, condemned DeSantis’s actions as an “immigration stunt” that bordered on “human trafficking.” The League of United Latin American Citizens, a Latino advocacy group, issued a travel advisory urging people not to travel to Florida following the signing of the aforementioned law.

DeSantis’s administration has thus far remained silent about the allegations, ignoring requests for comment. Meanwhile, legal proceedings persist as attorneys representing some of the migrants have filed a potential class-action lawsuit alleging that the flights violated Massachusetts and federal laws.

The pending lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction to prevent the state from “inducing immigrants to travel across state lines by fraud and misrepresentation.” Both California and Massachusettes hold themselves out as so-called sanctuary states, promising not to honor federal immigration detainers.


  1. Deborah Coffey

    Ron DeSantis transported illegal immigrants across state lines. Shouldn’t he go to prison for 15 years according to the anti-immigrant law HE SIGNED? Florida should sue him, too. He performed his abomination on our dime!

    • Anonymous


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