FIRST ON FOX: Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is urging Attorney General Merrick Garland against any ‘unconscionable’ moves to investigate Florida’s transportation of migrants — after California Gov. Gavin Newsom urged the DOJ to do so.
‘While I would urge you not to bail out California or engage in another political investigation or litigation, if you make the unconscionable and unfounded determination to do so, Florida stands ready to fight against DOJ’s overreach,’ the letter to Garland, obtained by Fox News Digital says.
Newsom, along with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, wrote to Garland on July 6 about Florida’s ‘unauthorized alien transport program,’ which flies migrants to so-called sanctuary jurisdictions across the U.S.
The program has transported migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and to California. It picked up additional funding signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year and is one of many similar initiatives that some Republican states implemented in response to the ongoing border crisis.
Newsom alleged that while it is common for jurisdictions and NGOS to facilitate travel elsewhere in the U.S., ‘this scheme is different.’ The letter cites news accounts that migrants were deceived into taking flights ‘based on promises of jobs and shelter.’
In the letter, he urges DOJ ‘to open federal criminal and civil investigations into these incidents.’
‘It is unconscionable to use people as political props by persuading them to travel to another state based on false or deceptive representations. We urge USDOJ to investigate potential violations of federal law by those involved in this scheme,’ he said.
Separately, California Attorney General Rob Bonta accused Florida of ‘state-sanctioned kidnapping.’
But in her letter, Moody says there is ‘no basis’ for the DOJ to investigate the Sunshine State, and repeats claims made by the state that the relocation program is voluntary and that contractors were present to ensure the migrants made their way to non-governmental organizations.
Moody dismisses the move by California as a ‘political stunt, not a legal request’ and says that the call is because Gov. Ron DeSantis is running for president and could potentially beat President Biden.
‘Instead, they hope that DOJ can be improperly utilized, yet again, against a Republican presidential candidate during an election. This seems to seek from DOJ exactly what you pledged DOJ would not do.’
In a statement, Moody called the request a ‘ridiculous political stunt.’
‘Our voluntary immigration relocation program is lawful, and California’s request fails to identify any violation of federal law,’ she said. ‘As an Attorney General who leads hundreds of highly qualified lawyers and has led dozens of legal challenges against this administration, it is jarring that California is not competent enough to articulate even a minimal legal basis for its request.’
The move comes as part of an ongoing feud between California and Florida over the issue, as well as between Republican-led and Democrat-led states more broadly on the issue.
As they have faced an ongoing border crisis which they blame on the Biden administration, Republican states including Florida and Texas have been bussing migrants to states or cities with ‘sanctuary policies’ which they say encourages migration to the border.
‘They attacked the previous administration’s efforts to try to have border security. And so that’s the policies they’re staking out. And then what?’ DeSantis said last month. ‘When they have to deal with some of the fruits of that, they all of a sudden become very, very upset about that?’
Moody meanwhile has taken legal action against the Biden administration and secured a major win when a judge agreed to block multiple parole release policies of migrants — including one that saw migrants released into the U.S. without court dates due to overcrowding.
‘Another opportunity for litigation will only shine a brighter light on the Biden administration’s complete abdication of its responsibility as to immigration and the jeopardy which it has placed our country and our citizens.’