Venezuelan migrants in the United States are once again in the news, reporting that they felt cheated after being transferred from Florida to California under false pretenses of being provided with housing and work. Thirty-six people—which includes people from Colombia, México, Guatemala, and Nicaragua—claims that they were made to sign a document authorizing the operation.
These migrants had entered through the US-México border and were subsequently taken from Texas to New Mexico, and from there onto California. According to the media, it was all the work of Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.
DeSantis, governor of Florida and Republican pre-candidate for the 2024 presidential elections, promotes a reactionary policy against Latino migrants and blames President Joe Biden for neglecting the border with México. Last February, he approved a law that authorizes his government to transfer migrants to another state, even if they live outside Florida.
The migrants said they signed the document just before boarding the plane, neither knowing what it said—because it was in English—nor knowing where they were going.
Californian authorities found a signed contract detailing that the Florida Division of Emergency Management hired Vertol Systems—a contractor that provides air transportation to both civilians and the military—to relocate the migrants in May.
A Florida emergency management official confirmed the flights on Tuesday, as reported by the Washington Post, claiming that the migrants had given their “verbal and written consent” to be relocated. However, California Attorney General Rob Bonta noted that some of the migrants had told investigators that they were “recruited with promises of employment” and did not know they were going to California until they arrived.
Recently, Florida has been transporting migrants from Texas to Sacramento, California; a move criticized by California officials, who say the migrants were not given a choice in the matter.
Bonta said that some of the migrants have asylum hearings scheduled in other cities, and that they have now been “dumped and deserted” in Sacramento, leading him to consider whether the flights broke the law. Many of the migrants have asylum hearings in very far away cities like Chicago, Denver, and New York City.
The presidential race in the US is not yet officially open, but there is no doubt that the migration debate and the actions of DeSantis are part of an electoral strategy, where the Republican facing Donald Trump for the primaries has a current focus on attacking Joe Biden’s migrations policies.
(Misión Verdad) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune