EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – An El Paso congresswoman is calling on the Justice Department to investigate the governor or Florida on migrant trafficking charges.
The call comes after the Florida Division of Emergency Management confirmed this week that it flew migrants from Texas to Sacramento, California. An El Paso nonprofit told KTSM the migrants were approached at Sacred Heart Church in South El Paso and offered jobs and transport to California. Most of the migrants involved had been processed and released on parole by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I think what the Florida governor, Mr. DeSantis, is doing is an outrage. He is using vulnerable human beings as a political pawn and he’s using the hard-earned dollars of Floridian taxpayers in order to do that,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said on Thursday. “And the whole point is to further his campaign for president.”
DeSantis a few days ago announced he’s running for the Republican presidential nomination. On Wednesday, he was in Arizona to participate in a border security forum.
Escobar said she believes the migrant flight operation in El Paso may have broken federal and state laws as well.
“I do think the Department of Justice needs to investigate what the governor has done and what all of the parties involved in this luring and trafficking of human beings,” Escobar said. “What they are doing breaks a number of laws, but we need law enforcement to take a look at that. We know Texas law enforcement has identified this behavior as unlawful behavior. We know California is looking at this but I think the federal government also needs to look at what I consider unlawful and outrageous behavior.”
Border Report reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment and is awaiting a response.
The mayor of El Paso said earlier he was not aware of Florida flying migrants from El Paso to California. The New Mexico attorney general said the state is looking into the issue, given at least one of the airplanes left from Deming, N.M., to California after migrants were apparently bused there from El Paso.
“We are working with our colleagues at the California Department of Justice to determine if there’s been a violation of state law,” Attorney General Raul Torrez said in a statement this week. “But regardless of that determination, I think it’s beneath the dignity of a great nation to use desperate people as pawns in this pathetic political stunt. America is better than that and anyone who had a hand in this should be ashamed of themselves.”
Escobar said DeSantis — whom national opinion polls show is running a distant second to former President Donad Trump for the Republican nomination — is trying to make himself appear tougher than Trump on immigraiton.
“He wants to run as far right of Donald Trump as possible. He thinks that will help him secure the nomination,” Escobar said. “To him, clearly, vulnerable human beings who are seeking asylum are nothing more than an political opportunity. It is shameful and ghoulish, in fact.”