Ron DeSantis, Student Action Summit
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Did Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) just spend taxpayer money on a stunt that could land Florida officials in jail? We are about to find out.

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Using some of the most vulnerable members of society as pawns in a political chess game where cruelty is the point and not a byproduct is nothing new for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Being held to account, however, is. And that’s precisely what could happen after his latest political stunt aimed at scoring points in the Republican primary.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management confirmed that the Sunshine State was behind two recent flights that took migrants from Texas to California.

Now, the question is whether these migrants knew what was happening or whether they were deceived and taken to California under false pretenses.

Florida insists that they signed forms, knew where they were headed, and went willingly. The Division of Emergency Management released a video showing people who looked at paperwork and seemed delighted to be boarding a plane. One man says he is happy to be in California.

Above all, the two-minute video shows people who are very happy and appreciative to be in the US and who undertook an extremely perilous journey to get there. It certainly does nothing to reinforce the GOP’s stereotype of dangerous “illegal” criminals who are flooding across the border and pose a threat to Americans.

Officials in California, on the other hand, believe that they have evidence that at least some of the migrants did not know what was happening or where they were going.

Even before it was clear that Florida (and its taxpayers’ dollars) was behind these flights, California Attorney General Rob Bonta had released a statement saying his office was “evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants.”

Bonta added that the collection of evidence was ongoing and strongly condemned the people behind this stunt.

“State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,” he stated. “We are a nation built by immigrants and we must condemn the cruelty and hateful rhetoric of those, whether they are state leaders or private parties, who refuse to recognize humanity and who turn their backs on extending dignity and care to fellow human beings.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also floated the possibility that kidnapping charges could be brought against Florida officials, including DeSantis.

Calling his Floridian counterpart a “small, pathetic man,” and adding the words “Kidnapping charges?” Newsom tweeted a section of California’s penal code.

“Every person who, being out of this state, abducts or takes by force or fraud any person contrary to the law of the place where that act is committed, and brings, sends, or conveys that person within the limits of this state, and is afterwards found within the limits thereof, is guilty of kidnapping,” California’s law states.

It is more than lamentable that people who are coming to the US in search of opportunities and a better, safer life are used as pawns in some dumb political game. However, if it is determined that the first thing that happened to them in the US is that they were deceived, and this results in criminal or civil charges against those responsible for this stunt, then their plight at least served some good.


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