Venezuelan migrants flew to California from Texas are not part of the GOP operation, activists say

Two groups of Venezuelan migrants that flew separately to Sacramento last week were dispatched by a Texas agency that directed travelers to a nonexistent immigration check-in location, a defense group told The Times Wednesday.

While the eight men who crossed the border in Laredo, Texas did not know why they were traveling to California, the move was not part of the efforts of Republican governors in Texas and Florida to ship migrants to liberal cities and states, according to Autumn Gonzalez. a volunteer with NorCal Resist.

Instead, a Texas shelter that works with newly arrived migrants appears to have offered them a plane ticket to Sacramento because their immigration documents indicated a check-in with U.S. immigration and law enforcement offices. in that city, Gonzalez said.

The paperwork also directed the men, who landed Sept. 15 in separate groups, to what they were told would be a shelter for temporary housing, Gonzalez said, but the address was a closed office building. in downtown Sacramento.

The unexpected arrival of the migrants immediately sparked concern that they were being targeted by agents of the governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis or Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who transported immigrants out of their states.

A group of migrants filed a federal collective action against DeSantis, claiming that Venezuelans who flew to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Were lured onto planes under false pretenses. California Governor Gavin Newsom joined other Democratic governors in asking the Justice Department to investigate the incident.

Gonzalez, whose group provides services to migrants and immigrants’ rights advocates, said that although the men who arrived in Sacramento were not part of a relocation effort, the defenders remained concerned about their misdirection. check in.

“The part that is problematic is [Customs and Border Protection] putting the address of a non-existent shelter on their papers as a place to show up, “Gonzalez said, noting that none of the men had any contacts or resources in the city.

The men are refusing to speak to the media, Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez added that NorCal Resist and the volunteers were able to provide the migrants with a place to stay and food. Some of the group have already volunteered to move furniture for a Syrian refugee family. Another non-profit group stepped in to organize a football match for the men.

Some are now considering settling in Sacramento, he said.

Officers from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and customs law enforcement did not answer questions about why immigrants would be granted a check-in seat so far from their final destinations. The men who arrived in California intended to travel to New York, Florida or Utah.

Yet, for years, lawyers have highlighted cases where immigration seekers have been routed to show up in distant locations or given wrong addresses, which can be crucial for asylum seekers to check in with ICE. .

In one case documented by BuzzFeed News, a Honduran citizen had his physical address listed as “Facebook” by a border patrol officer. WNBC New York in August reported that some immigrants were given false addresses at alleged shelters in New York, such as “111 unknown”. In two cases, an officer appeared to sign the documents with the emoji of a face with a closed eye and a sticking out tongue.

Marisa Limón Garza, executive director of Las Americas, at a nonprofit immigration advocacy group based in El Paso, said that recent actions by Abbott and DeSantis have strengthened partnerships in communities willing to help immigrants.

California and Boston helped displaced Venezuelans, who bypassed the political theater that elected officials were trying to organize, he said.

Garza said the support these immigrants found is reminiscent of how Ukrainian refugees were welcomed by neighboring countries when the Russian invasion began.

“This is how we operate every day on the southern border,” Garza said. “I have no doubt that there are similar people in Sacramento and Chicago. All of these areas are doing the same thing in really showing that a person can be welcomed even if they may not have received complete information on this trip. “

El Paso is a perpetual crossing point for migrants entering the United States, he said. In previous years, migrants from other Central and South American countries typically spent a few days in the city before making contact with relatives who could sponsor them to legally stay in the country. But that’s not the case with many Venezuelans, who typically don’t have connections to the United States

Garza said this disparity is creating a backlog and highlights the obvious problems facing the wider immigration system.

He also said that cities and states that welcome immigrants will need federal assistance if they are asked to continue their humanitarian aid.

“This dates back to [Biden] administration and Congress because the good people of Sacramento are doing what I imagine is a huge amount of work and are happy to do it, ”Garza said. “They will need the support of the federal government to find solutions that will make sense for the community in the long term.”