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Vulnerable Migrants Lured to California By DeSantis Say They Heard Promise After Promise, But All They Got Was “Abandonment”

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As We Saw When Migrants Were Flown To Martha’s Vineyard Last Year, DeSantis’ Recruiters Never Had Any Intention of Keeping Their Word

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended his indefensible transportation of vulnerable migrants to California by releasing footage showing his victims smiling and dancing. But they appeared to be happy only “because they were promised so much more, they said,” The Los Angeles Times reports

Migrants spoke to the outlet and said that contractors hired by Florida as part of DeSantis’ cruel 2024 politicking made promise after promise about shelter, food, work, even legal assistance to help them secure work permits. However, like in Florida’s transportation of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last year, these recruiters never had any intention of keeping their word. “I didn’t know that all of us were being deceived,” one tearful man said in the report. 

“They say they were duped by Florida officials and that, while they are grateful to be in America, their plans have been disrupted, with immigration hearings now spread across the country and job opportunities stalled,” the report said. If they miss their immigration court date, they could lose any chance of being able to stay in the U.S. permanently. 

None of the migrants identified themselves out of fear of endangering their cases, but relayed stories of their arduous journeys, including running out of food and walking “until their feet bled,” The Times said. So it’s really no shock that when migrants were offered help, they took it. DeSantis’ people thought they were being oh-so-clever by recording migrants’ reactions. But what they were doing was documenting their own cruelty for all who weren’t there to see.

“We didn’t get what they told us that we were going to get,” the man continued. He’d journeyed to the U.S. with his wife and hoped to send money back to Venezuela, where their three children are living with a grandparent. He said none of them have shoes. DeSantis’ recruiters “said that if you take the flight, you can get shelter, you’re going to get work, you’re going to get food,” he went on. “And all we received was abandonment.”

Florida has to date transported three dozen migrants from Texas to California on two separate flights. Recruiters quickly sped off after dumping migrants from the first flight outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins reports recruiters lured initially victims from a Catholic Church in El Paso as well. Bishop Mark Seitz “had harsh words for the Florida governor, comparing his actions to that of human traffickers,” Jenkins reported.

“In the past, we’ve had to tell them, ‘Beware of the coyotes,’” Bishop Seitz told RNS. “Now we’re having to say, ‘Beware of these people who will make you promises to take you someplace.'” 

Dozens of groups in California have since urged state Attorney General Rob Bonta to support U-visa certification for the migrants targeted by DeSantis. This visa is available to migrants who have been victims of crime and work with law enforcement in any investigations. Bonta previously called DeSantis’ stunt “state-sanctioned kidnapping” and said his office is currently conducting an investigation. Migrants “were lied to,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “They were misled.”


DeSantis was also in Sacramento this week, but not to meet with his victims, but instead to meet with wealthy donors to his presidential campaign. 

In typical DeSantis fashion, the country club hosting the $3,300-a-plate dinner was closed to the press, The New York Times reported. That’s awfully convenient, with the July 1 implementation date of his anti-immigrant law coming up pretty soon. It’s been at the center of recent massive protests and sparked such a backlash from communities that the state Republicans who passed the law to aid DeSantis’ political aspirations have been begging immigrant workers to not leave the state. 

DeSantis however is planning yet another silly visit to the border where he will want press coverage to boost his nativist profile. Seems like there is a really interesting story for some reporter willing to ask some hard questions. After all this is his signature bill. 

Maybe ask him some things many people in Florida have been wondering: does he understand what’s happening in his own state because of this law? Does he care? Who will help Florida recover now that hurricane season has started? Why are you forcing out people when businesses in your state have complained that they can’t find workers? And how can you still defend your California stunt after criminal charges have been filed in your prior Texas – Massachusetts stunt?