By Jasper Ward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday urged the Department of Justice to open criminal and civil investigations into Florida’s transportation of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard and Sacramento in recent months.
“It is unconscionable to use people as political props by persuading them to travel to another state based on false or deceptive representations,” Newsom said in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“We urge the USDOJ to investigate potential violations of federal law by those involved in this scheme.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, last year arranged to transport dozens of migrants to the Massachusetts vacation island of Martha’s Vineyard. It was part of a campaign by Republican governors in Texas and Florida to shift some of the immigration burden to Democratic-run cities further north.
Florida also acknowledged a role in sending two flights of migrants to California last month, saying all of them traveled voluntarily.
Results of a Bexar County sheriff investigation into the Martha’s Vineyard flight concluded that individuals were “induced to accept free travel based on false representations” that they would be transported from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard and receive housing, education and employment opportunities, Newsom said.
A referral for potential criminal prosecution for that flight is pending with the Bexas County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Justice has opened criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances of the Sacramento flights.
“Although separate investigations into potential violations of state laws remain active, the U.S. Department of Justice has a unique capability to investigate cases where, as here, the scheme stretches from Massachusetts to California and touches upon no fewer than five states,” Newsom said.
(Reporting by Jasper Ward; Editing by Richard Chang)
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