Newsom Asks DOJ to Probe Florida, Texas Migrant Relocation Schemes

With Govs. Abbott and DeSantis busing and flying migrants to northern cities, Newsom suggests it’s kidnapping

Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday released a letter he sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether officials in Florida and Texas may have run afoul of any federal laws, including kidnapping, for busing and flying asylum-seeking migrants to northern states.

On Wednesday, two planes carrying 50 migrants from Venezuela arrived at Martha’s Vineyard, courtesy of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, says that in the last few months he’s bused 6,100 migrants to Washington D.C.—with two of those buses, Abbott boasted, arriving on Thursday “outside Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence at the United States Naval Observatory.” He’s also sent buses of asylum-seekers to New York and Chicago.

“Like millions of Americans, I have been horrified at the images of migrants being shipped on buses and planes across the country to be used as political props,” Newsom writes. “Clearly, transporting families, including children, across state lines under false pretenses is morally reprehensible, but it may also be illegal.”

Abbott began his immigration relocation games in April as a direct response to the Biden administration eliminating Title 42, the Trump pandemic policy that allowed the government to quickly deport migrants, including asylum seekers, who come to the U.S. from countries where an infectious disease is present. Currently, asylum-seekers are allowed to remain in the U.S. until their cases are decided in court.

Newsom suggests that fraud is a key factor in the relocations, citing allegations made by several of the migrants who landed at Martha’s Vineyard that they had been tricked into accepting the trips “based on a false representation that they would be transported to Boston and would receive expedited access to work authorization.”

Newsom also thinks the very nature of the operations make them prime candidates for DOJ scrutiny, writing, “The interstate travel at issue provides a basis for federal jurisdiction over this matter.”

The governor then drops his big ask: “Accordingly, I strongly urge the U.S. Department of Justice (US DOJ) to open an investigation into possible criminal or civil violations of federal law based on this alleged fraudulent scheme.” Specifically, Newsom proposes that investigators take a look at whether “the alleged fraudulent inducement would support charges of kidnapping under the relevant state laws.”

Those state laws, Newsom calculates, “could serve as a predicate offense” to set up his enemy governors for a Mafia-style Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) rap. Additionally, because the migrants were targeted for their national origin “and the intent appears to have been to humiliate and dehumanize them,” Newsom argues that the case could constitute “a civil rights conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C 1985.”

Meanwhile, the migrants who arrived at Martha’s Vineyard were reportedly warmly welcomed by the affluent locals until leaving for a Cape Cod military base Friday to try to find more permanent shelter and figure out what comes next.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today