« It is inconceivable to use people as political props by convincing them to travel to another state based on false or deceptive representations, » the letter said. “We urge the USDOJ to investigate potential violations of federal law by those involved in this scheme.”
The move comes a month after two groups of migrants flew into Sacramento, prompting multiple California Justice Department investigations and a threat from Newsom that Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis could be charged with kidnapping .
Thursday’s letter does not address a similar program orchestrated by Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who took credit for bringing more than 20,000 people across the country to Chicago, Washington, DC and New York City, as well as more than 100 people in LA for the last few weeks. By comparison, DeSantis transported about 100 migrants total to Massachusetts and California.
Democratic city and state leaders have also flown migrants, most notably New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has sent migrants to Florida, Delaware, Texas and as far away as China.
Justice Department officials have remained silent on the controversial hauling tactic — which DeSantis and Abbott have framed as a protest against ending pandemic-related immigration laws — even as state law enforcement agencies have escalated their battles. legal.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, an elected Democrat representing San Antonio and its surrounding suburbs, launched an investigation in September after DeSantis brought about 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Salazar says the migrants were falsely promised housing, job opportunities and education, and has referred his investigation to the Bexar County District Attorney’s office.
Newsom and Bonta, in their letter, argued that the cases should fall under federal oversight, as officials have moved the migrants across state lines.
« Although separate investigations into potential violations of state law remain active, the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) has a unique ability to investigate cases where, as in this case, the scheme extends from Massachusetts to California, » it said. read in the letter.
Justice Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter.
The Treasury Department inspector general in October confirmed he would look into separately whether Florida misused Covid-19 aid for immigration efforts. Florida has argued that its use of interest earned on relief funds to pay for transportation is permitted under federal rules. The Florida legislature last year allocated $12 million in Covid-19 relief interest for the program.
The Treasury Department watchdog did not announce the findings of the investigation, which was part of a larger scrutiny over states’ use of American Rescue Plan funds.