In response to California officials' accusations that Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis had potentially "kidnapped" dozens of illegal immigrants and flew them out to Sacramento by plane, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DOEM) released video footage on Tuesday that shows the migrants had volunteered to fly out there, provided verbal and written consent, and celebrated upon their arrival.
The DOEM's video, obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF), includes footage of the asylum-seekers, who came from South America, apparently signing consent forms, expressing how glad they were to travel to California, and celebrating throughout their travel accommodations.
"Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated they wanted to go to California," the Florida DOEM told the DCNF. "A contractor was present and ensured they made it safely to a 3rd-party NGO. The specific NGO, Catholic Charities, is used and funded by the federal government."
One migrant in the video was asked if they felt they had been treated poorly at any point during their trip to California's state capital, to which he answered, "No. No. They treated us super well."
Another discussed his personal journey that brought him to the Golden State, which included enduring harrowing encounters with "MS-13, Colombian paramilitaries, cartels" back in Central America.
"I am very appreciative," he told an interviewer on the video, "because traveling in the streets and being exposed to paramilitaries and [MS-13] and other threats throughout Central America, to make it to a safe place and meet people with so much kindness … we are very appreciative."
The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that more than a dozen migrants arrived in Sacramento on chartered planes from New Mexico. It was the second chartered plane in four days to transport asylum-seekers to California's state capital, and both flights had been arranged by the Florida DOEM.
Florida's actions had already sparked outrage from California officials, including state Attorney General Rob Bonta. On Saturday, Bonta issued a statement that while his office worked on collecting evidence, he wanted to state very clearly that "State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting."
Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., took the matter even further Monday by posting on Twitter and directly calling out DeSantis.
"@RonDeSantis, you small, pathetic man," he wrote. "This isn't Martha's Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?"
Newsom's comment about Martha's Vineyard was in reference to Sept. 2022, when DeSantis arranged for 50 migrants from Venezuela to be flown from San Antonio to the Massachusetts resort island. The governor's tweet also included a link and a screenshot highlighting a section of California's kidnapping law.
"From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new," the Florida DOEM said. "Suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it's false imprisonment and kidnapping."
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