California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom escalated his feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, appearing to threaten DeSantis with kidnapping charges over South American migrant flights to Sacramento.
Newsom cited California kidnapping laws in a tweet sent Monday that called the Florida governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate a "small, pathetic man."
"This isn't Martha's Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?" Newsom tweeted, referencing Florida's migrant relocation initiative. DeSantis drew national headlines last year when the state of Florida flew a group of South American migrants from Texas to the liberal enclave of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, which had touted broad support for sanctuary policies.
More than a dozen migrants were transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown to Sacramento and left on the doorstep of a local church Friday "without any advance warning," Newsom said over the weekend.
On Monday, a plane carrying 20 more migrants arrived in Sacramento. California Department of Justice officials said both groups were flown by the same contractor and were carrying documents linking the state of Florida to their relocation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"My Administration is also working with the California Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances around who paid for the group’s travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping," Newsom said.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a separate statement Saturday announcing an investigation into the migrant flights. Bonta said the state is "evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants."
"While we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting," Bonta added. "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."
Representatives for DeSantis' political campaign and the office of the governor did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
DeSantis signed legislation earlier this year granting the state of Florida $12 million to continue its "Unauthorized Alien Transpot Program" to send illegal immigrants to states with sanctuary city policies. The program is intended to challenge Democrats' hypocrisy toward asylum seekers and protest federal immigration policy under the Biden administration, though critics have called it a political stunt.
Fox News' Danielle Wallace and Landon Mion contributed to this report.