Amid widespread outrage over the issue, California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is requesting a criminal investigation by the Justice Department into recent trips facilitated by Texas and Florida authorities taking migrants to areas known for their Democratic leans.
“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 wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Clearly, transporting families, including children, across state lines under false pretenses is morally reprehensible, but it may also be illegal.” Newsom named potential offenses including kidnapping and racketeering, which is a form of criminal conspiracy. Newsom also pointed out that it seems those taken to Massachusetts were targeted on the basis of their national origin, which could violate the rights held by these people to equal protection.
The trips constitute a political stunt calling attention to an issue (immigration) on which Republicans think they have an advantage, at the expense of the disadvantaged people getting transported to places, like Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where they might have no prior connections. A trip this week bringing dozens of migrants to the Massachusetts locale was set up by the administration of Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis in Texas — the migrants weren’t even in Florida! Reuters indicates there might be interest at the Justice Department level in pursuing something along the lines of what Newsom wanted. “U.S. government attorneys are exploring possible litigation around the efforts by the governors to move migrants north,” per an official in the Biden administration who went unnamed in Friday’s report from Reuters. The same report notes the legal foundation — assuming there is one — for Florida authorities conducting these actions that originate entirely in another state is unclear.
Arizona authorities also set up rides for migrants, although Newsom didn’t name the Arizona governor in initial remarks. Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago are among the destinations to which Arizona and Texas authorities have facilitated the transport of thousands of migrants, despite documented lacks in needed resources in these areas to support migrants, who aren’t even normally there in the numbers seen elsewhere. Making matters somehow even worse, the individuals from outside the country who ended up on the DeSantis-backed transports to Massachusetts were apparently originally deceived into going along for the journey. (The treks were not compelled.) A woman “persuaded them to board the flights by misleading them into thinking they were heading to Boston and would be provided shelter and assistance finding work for three months,” as Reuters summarizes revelations originating with the affected migrants. Locals in Martha’s Vineyard turned out to support the migrants, including children, who were flown to the area.