(Reuters) – California's Attorney General is investigating whether Florida's government played a role in the sending of more than a dozen migrants without prior notice to Sacramento, the California capital.
On Sunday, the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's representatives did not respond immediately to a comment request.
DeSantis arranged last year to transport dozens migrants to the Massachusetts holiday island of Martha's Vineyard, as part of a Republican governors' campaign in Texas and Florida that aimed to shift some immigration burdens to Democratic-run northern cities.
DeSantis is pursuing the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, and the buses and planes filled with migrants have intensified partisan tensions on immigration.
The Los Angeles Times, citing sources, reported that 16 asylum seekers from Venezuela or Colombia were delivered to the Roman Catholic Diocese in Sacramento on Friday.
In a statement released on Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom stated that the group had first been transported by bus from Texas into New Mexico before being flown to Sacramento by private jet.
In a separate press release, California's Attorney General Rob Bonta (also a Democrat) said that the state was investigating criminal and civil liability of those who arranged for the flight.
Bonta stated that the initial findings showed the migrants had documents "that purported to be from Florida's government."
Bonta added that California will welcome the migrants with "open arms" as they continue to gather evidence.
DeSantis, in response to the Martha's Vineyard tragedy, told supporters that "there may be more buses, or there may be flights."
Florida data revealed that the state paid $615,000 in compensation to an aviation firm as part of its "relocation program for unauthorized aliens".