NEW YORK – Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis’s office has confirmed that it sent dozens of migrants directly to the offices of the Diocese of Sacramento Catholic Charities, justifying the act by pointing out that Catholic Charities gets funds from the federal government.

In a June 6 statement to Crux, the Florida Division of Emergency Management also highlighted that all of the migrants boarded planes to Sacramento voluntarily, and expressed a desire to go to California.

“Through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated they wanted to go to California,” reads the statement. “A contractor was present and ensured they all made it safely to a 3rd-party NGO. The specific NGO, Catholic Charities, is used and funded by the federal government.”

The Diocese of Sacramento Catholic Charities is a non-profit, and the organization acknowledges on its website that it has “state, federal, county and local funding contracts.”

To the shock of the Diocese of Sacramento, sixteen migrants were dropped off at its doorstep midday on Friday, June 2. There was no explanation given as to where the migrants came from or who sent them.

California government officials initially accused DeSantis of being responsible and launched an investigation, making accusations of “state-sanctioned kidnapping” and threatening that the state could pursue kidnapping charges. California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom called DeSantis a “small, pathetic man.”

On Monday, June 5, a second plane of about 20 migrants landed in Sacramento, and it was soon confirmed that the flights were arranged by the state of Florida.

The flights to Sacramento mirror an arrangement DeSantis made last September to fly 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, an upscale island off the coast of Massachusetts. In the statement to Crux, the Florida Division of Emergency Management emphasized that Florida is only one of many government entities that have flown or bused migrants to different locales nationwide.

As the immigration crisis at the southern border has ballooned in recent years, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has made it clear that his state shouldn’t bear brunt of the a crisis that should be addressed by the federal government, and in turn has bused more than 13,000 migrants to Democratic-led “sanctuary cities,” including New York City, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.

Former Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and current Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs have sent 3,000 migrants to Washington D.C.

Oscar Leeser, the Democratic Mayor of El Paso, Texas, has also bused more than 13,000 migrants to New York City and Chicago. On a much smaller scale, New York Mayor Eric Adams, now former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have also bused migrants to other locales.

“From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new,” said the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “But suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s false imprisonment and kidnapping.”

It’s unclear who received the second plane of migrants to Sacramento, but the Diocese of Sacramento worked with local partners to receive the first and eventually get them in hotels while seeking to figure out the next steps, given that Sacramento wasn’t the migrants’ final destination.

Miriam Sammartino, the diocese’s director of Catholic Charities and Social Concerns, told Crux on June 5 that the manner of how the migrants arrived there was heartbreaking.

“I don’t believe the migrants themselves even understood that they were being brought to Sacramento, so that’s a priority for us,” said Sammartino.

“It just adds to a sense of cruelty. How are you going to move folks to a place that is potentially further away from where they needed to be?” she continued. “When you hear that the migrants in their mind are going to be processed and given the information, looking for help and for hope, and instead they’re given a location where they have no one to rely on … It’s completely heartbreaking.”

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