SACRAMENTO – Activists say more migrants were dropped off in Sacramento in another apparent salvo from red states trying to highlight the crisis at the US-Mexico border.
PICO California and Sacramento ACT, two faith-based community organizing networks, said in a press release that 16 Venezuelan and Colombian migrants were dropped outside the Diocese of Sacramento on Friday.
The migrants apparently originated from El Paso, Texas, where someone representing a private contractor had approached them outside of a migrant center offering to help get them to somewhere that could provide jobs and support.
Instead, activists say the group was taken to Sacramento with only a backpack's worth of belongings and no idea where they were.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, in a statement on Saturday, called for an investigation into who was behind the act.
"Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?" Steinberg said.
According to California Gov. Gavin Newsom's office, the migrants were flown by a private chartered jet to Sacramento before they were dumped in front of the church.
Newsom said both he and Attorney General Rob Bonta have met with the migrants and are now working with local nonprofits to get them help.
"My Administration is also working with the California Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances around who paid for the group's travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping," Newsom said in a statement.
Faith leaders from PICO California and Sacramento ACT chastised the political act.
"This political polarizing act is heartbreaking and yet I rejoice that I am part of a movement that brings the love of God and goodwill upon the injustices and political wickedness that impacts our vulnerable brothers and sisters," said Rev. Efrem Smith from Midtown Church, also the Sacramento ACT president, in a statement.
Other leaders urged Sacramentans to offer their support for the migrants, who will now have to deal with a disruption of their legal process.
"These are human beings, no different than you or me, who simply want to take care of their families and live a peaceful life, and they deserve to be treated better," said Rabbi Mona Alfi from the Congregation B'nai Israel in a statement.
Shireen Miles with Sacramento ACT said none of the migrants were children, and mostly men and women in their 20s.
"Right now we are just going day by day," said Miles. "Like today I took them to a thrift store because they had only the clothes on their back."
Miles said the migrants were all admitted to U.S. as asylum applicants. Many of them have upcoming court cases in cities across the country including Denver and Chicago.
"While we are happy to receive them and welcome them and want to give them whatever support they need, they will be in trouble if they don't show up for the court hearing that's been scheduled for them," Miles told CBS 13.
She said they will be meeting with immigration lawyers next week to try and sort things out.
"They are a sweet group," said Miles. "They are so, so appreciative."
Migrants were also unexpectedly dropped in Sacramento back in September.
Busloads of migrants from states along the border have shown up all around the country, including right in front of Vice President Kamala Harris' Washington D.C. residence on Christmas Eve.
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