Gavin Newsom in war of words with DeSantis over Martha’s Vineyard migrant flight


California Governor Gavin Newsom has been accused of hypocrisy for harshly criticizing migrant transports from Texas and Florida, despite previously running his own initiative to bus homeless people away from San Francisco.

Newsom, a Democrat, engaged in a public war of words with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after last week’s high-profile flights carrying Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Newsom demanded a criminal probe into Florida’s airlift, calling it a ‘morally reprehensible’ and possibly illegal attempt to ‘humiliate and dehumanize’ the group of about 50 migrants.

DeSantis fired back at a press conference, saying Newsom’s ‘hair gel is interfering with his brain function’. Both governors are considered likely contenders for their respective parties’ presidential nominations in the coming cycles.

Meanwhile, some of Newsom’s critics have pointed out when he was mayor of San Francisco more than a decade ago, he spearheaded a program that offered free one-way Greyhound tickets.

The initiative, dubbed ‘Homeward Bound’, was described as Newsom’s ‘brainchild’ in 2006 NPR report, which quoted him as praising the program for helping people ‘turn their lives around.’

Ron DeSantis

California Governor Gavin Newsom (left) has been engaged in a public war of words with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) after last week’s high-profile flights carrying Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Newsom demanded a criminal probe into Florida's airlift, calling it 'morally reprehensible' and possibly illegal

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Newsom demanded a criminal probe into Florida’s airlift, calling it ‘morally reprehensible’ and possibly illegal

The contrast led some critics to accuse Newsom of double standards, with conservative commentator Rusty Weiss writing in a column: ‘if shipping people out of state to try and give them a better life amounts to “kidnapping,” Newsom has some explaining to do. ‘

In a statement to DailyMail.com, Newsom’s spokesperson Erin Mellon slammed the accusation, writing: ‘There is no comparison between the two. SF helped people get home to their families. GOP Republicans kidnapped people for a political stunt.’

‘The Republican stunt lied to people about what they would receive and where they were going, and provided no support, instead dumping them on the street as political pawns,’ added Mellon.

According to multiple reports, many of the migrants on the flights to Martha’s Vineyard were told that they were going to Boston, and promised free housing and jobs.

Mellon continued: ‘Homeward Bound was completely voluntary and participants signed up to get home to family. While they waited, they were provided shelter, they were given financial support for food along the trip and there was follow through to make sure people got home.’

‘Republican Governors are using vulnerable migrants, including families with children as political props. Their behavior is monstrous,’ she added.

Homeless tents are seen near the City Hall of San Francisco on August 29, 2022

Homeless tents are seen near the City Hall of San Francisco on August 29, 2022

‘This is a stunt by these governors to curry favor with their campaign donors. It’s not only morally reprehensible, but it may be unlawful as well.’

Newsom in 2019 claimed that most of San Francisco’s homeless population was from Texas, a claim that PolitiFact rated as untrue.

On Saturday, Newsom also reached out on Twitter to challenge DeSantis to a debate ahead of the midterm elections.

‘Hey @GovRonDeSantis, clearly you’re struggling, distracted, and busy playing politics with people’s lives,’ Newsom tweeted on Friday.

‘Since you have only one overriding need – attention – let’s take this up & debate,’ Newsom said in response to a tweet from Dan rather asking CNN to set up a debate between the two governors.

‘I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray,’ he added, referring to DeSantis’ quip earlier that day that Newsom’s ‘hair gel is interfering with his brain function’ when the California governor criticized his actions.

DeSantis defended his actions and claimed that the migrants knew exactly where they were going and voluntarily signed up for the trip

DeSantis defended his actions and claimed that the migrants knew exactly where they were going and voluntarily signed up for the trip

Pictured: A group of 50 migrants enjoyed Venezuelan dishes at the military base after Martha's Vineyard declared an emergency over the group's arrival

Pictured: A group of 50 migrants enjoyed Venezuelan dishes at the military base after Martha’s Vineyard declared an emergency over the group’s arrival

Newsom’s challenge comes as DeSantis continued to defend flying the immigrants over to Martha’s Vineyard and said his state has a $12 million budget ready to relocate more immigrants up north, CNN reported.

‘These are just the beginning efforts,’ DeSantis said in a news conference on Friday. ‘We’ve got an infrastructure in place now. There’s going to be a lot more that’s happening.’

The Florida governor said he may even collaborate with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who since April has been busing migrants to so-called sanctuary cities including New York and Washington DC.

DeSantis accused critics of his move as ‘virtue signaling,’ and said their concern for the welfare of the migrants was a ‘fraud.’

He said: ‘The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they go berserk, and they’re so upset that this is happening.’

The Republican also disputed claims that the migrants didn’t know where they were being sent, saying his office made them sign a waiver and provided maps of Martha’s Vineyard.

‘It’s obvious that’s where they were going,’ he said. ‘It’s all voluntary.’

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