Florida: Yes, we sent migrants to California

Your guide to California policy and politics
Lynn La BY Lynn La June 7, 2023
Presented by Dairy Cares, Climate-Smart Agricultural Partnership, Southern California Gas Company and Earthjustice

Florida: Yes, we sent migrants to California

From CalMatters reporter Marisa Kendall:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration took credit Tuesday for shipping 36 asylum-seeking migrants to Sacramento over the past week, prompting another round of political shots between Florida officials and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.  

In a written statement, a spokesperson for the Florida Division of Emergency Management characterized the migrants as willing and informed passengers on the private flights that carried them from El Paso, Texas, to California.

The spokesperson, Amelia Johnson, also rebuked Newsom for his tweet suggesting he wanted to bring kidnapping charges against DeSantis.

  • Johnson: “From left-leaning mayors in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those illegally crossing the United States border is not new. But suddenly, when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s false imprisonment and kidnapping.”

She released a video of smiling migrants talking in Spanish about how they are being helped. Florida has budgeted $12 million for its migrant relocation program.

But advocates and officials in California say the migrants were lured from Texas with false promises of job opportunities and other services – and didn’t know they would end up in California.

  • Anthony York, Newsom spokesperson: “This is exploitative propaganda being peddled by a politician who has shown there are no depths he won’t sink to in his desperate effort to score a political point.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also had something to say about the state’s unexpected guests: “Bring it on.” Steinberg, who met several of the migrants Monday night, avoided mentioning Florida on Tuesday, but said whoever is responsible for the flights committed an “evil” and “a terrible wrong.”

Nonprofits, faith leaders and volunteers, with help from the city and county, have provided or plan to provide the migrants with clothing, medical care, legal aid, counseling, dental services, haircuts and more. Anyone who wants to donate can do so at www.sacact.org.

  • Steinberg: “Our community will never say no. To the people who wonder whether or not we can handle this on top of the real challenges we face in our community, there is no other answer but to say yes. And you better believe we can handle it.”

Youth journalism: CalMatters is ramping up its youth journalism initiative for high school students and educators. That includes an educator fellowship, with a workshop July 10-13 at CalMatters’ offices in Sacramento. Here’s an FAQ and the application, with a June 12 priority deadline. Read more from our engagement team.


1 What’s the living wage in CA?

A picket sign on the ground at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, as nearly 48,000 University of California academic workers strike for higher wages, on Nov. 14, 2022. Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters
A picket sign on the ground at the University of California, Los Angeles campus in Los Angeles on Nov. 14, 2022. Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters

Though state Sen. Steve Padilla’s bill to calculate a “living wage” for each California county officially died in May, efforts to pin down a more accurate cost of living continue on.

On Tuesday, United Ways of California released its latest living wage calculator, which estimates how much a household must earn to afford the basics in different regions.

To go beyond federal poverty guidelines, the Real Cost Measure includes the cost of housing, food (which the federal poverty level does not consider), healthcare, child care, taxes, transportation and other necessities. The analysis calculated 1,200 different budgets from different regions, counties and neighborhoods, as well as different household budgets for one working adult to 19 adults. 

For two adults living with one preschooler and one school-aged child, for example, the living wage is about $84,700 in Riverside County, $87,000 in Sacramento County and $146,000 in Marin.

Other key takeaways from the report:

  • More than one in three households in California (3.7 million) don’t make a living wage, 2.6 million more than the official poverty figure of 1.1 million.
  • Four in 10 households in California (about 4.7 million) pay at least 30% of their income for housing.
  • Between 1984 and 2021, California’s gross domestic product grew by 173%, but median household earnings rose only 4%.

During an online presentation about the study’s findings, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said that “if we’re really taking what’s at heart on this report, then we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

  • Santiago: “People are hurting. And a federal measure or standard doesn’t quite do the trick anymore. We can move that number all around but the bottom line is that people are suffering in the state of California.”

More on inequality: Nicole Foy of CalMatter’s California Divide team spoke to Elliott Balch, who recently left the Central Valley Community Foundation, the sponsor behind a multiyear program that aims to strengthen Fresno’s economy. Balch is now the CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

Fresno has been recognized by the Newsom administration as an anchor to the Central Valley, and its economic health as vital to California. Unlike the downtowns of other major cities, such as San Francisco and Sacramento, Fresno’s city center has bounced back since the pandemic. To keep that momentum going, the governor budgeted $250 million towards downtown Fresno in his May spending proposal, including $70 million for new parking structures and spots. 

To learn more about downtown Fresno’s revitalization efforts, what the city plans to do with the investment, how it could impact inequality in the Fresno area and more, read Nicole’s full interview with Balch.

Fresno housing: A CalMatters live event, in partnership with Fresnoland, will focus on housing affordability in Fresno. It is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. on June 15, in person at the Fresno Art Museum and virtually. Sign up here to attend.

2 A bill to stop book banning

A student reads a book at Stege Elementary School in Richmond on Feb. 6, 2023. Photo by Shelby Knowles for CalMatters
A student reads a book at Stege Elementary School in Richmond on Feb. 6, 2023. Photo by Shelby Knowles for CalMatters

Three top California officials warned local school districts against joining what they see as a scourge of book banning in other states.

But a majority on the Temecula Valley Unified school board in Riverside County voted to do just that, rejecting an elementary social studies curriculum that mentioned gay rights advocate Harvey Milk. “My question is: Why even mention a pedophile?” asked Joseph Komrosky, the board’s president. 

So now there’s a bill in the Legislature to stop what the author calls “an alarming trend.”

Assembly Bill 1078 would require a supermajority vote by a school board to ban a book and would allow parents to appeal such a move to the county board of education. It was announced Tuesday by Assemblymember Corey Jackson, a first-term Democrat from Moreno Valley who is the first Black openly LGBTQ legislator and who is stressing creating a more equitable California in his bills.

  • Jackson, in a statement: “It is disheartening to witness the rise of white Christian nationalist extremism, which seeks to erase the invaluable contributions and narratives of marginalized communities…. This will not happen on my watch. AB 1078 is a necessary response to protect our children’s access to diverse perspectives, encourage critical thinking, and promote inclusivity in our schools.”

Gov. Newsom joined Attorney General Rob Bonta and state Schools Supt. Tony Thurmond in sending a joint letter last week to school leaders. When the governor found out about the Temecula Valley action, he tweeted: “This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn. Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention. Stay tuned.”

And today, Newsom and Bonta sent a joint letter to the Temecula Valley school board demanding more information about its decision.

3 Conflict over gay pride

Participants in the 49th annual Los Angeles Pride Parade in West Hollywood in 2019. Photo by Richard Vogel, AP Photo
Participants in the 49th annual Los Angeles Pride Parade in West Hollywood in 2019. Photo by Richard Vogel, AP Photo

Citing “an unprecedented and dangerous spike” in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the Human Rights Campaign — one of the most well-known LGBTQ+ advocacy and lobbying groups — declared a national state of emergency on Tuesday for the first time since its formation in 1980.

While the California Legislature has so far not advanced any such bills (bans on gender-affirming care or laws limiting transgender youth from participating in sports), the state isn’t immune from controversy.

On Tuesday, Orange County supervisors voted 3-2 to ban the rainbow Pride flag on all county offices and properties, including public parks. Supervisor Doug Chaffee, the only Democrat to support the ban, said the flag was “a distraction,” according to Voice of OC.

In response, Democratic state Sen. Catherine Blakespear issued a statement calling the vote “a clear message of disrespect and intolerance” and mentioned how Encinitas was the first city in San Diego County to fly the Pride flag at City Hall during her time as mayor. 

  • Blakespear: “As LGBTQ+ rights are under attack in many states, it’s more important than ever that our California communities embrace and publicly demonstrate support for the diversity of human experiences.”

Monday, after the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus honored San Francisco drag artist Sister Roma, Assembly Republicans walked off the floor in protest. Senate Republicans unsuccessfully urged the caucus to rescind the invitation. And when the Senate passed a resolution declaring June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, only one Republican, Redlands Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, voted yes.


CalMatters Commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California is losing its competitive edge, so leaders need to pay attention.

If Gov. Newsom wants to transform prisons, why is he side-stepping solitary confinement, asks Kevin McCarthy, who was in solitary at Pelican Bay State Prison and is a member of UC Berkeley Underground Scholars.


Other things worth your time

Some stories may require a subscription to read

New California law cracks down on disabled parking fraud // The Sacramento Bee

California’s longest-serving state worker May Lee dies at 102 // KCRA

15 lobbying firms account for nearly a third of all first quarter payments // Capitol Weekly 

Prop. 8 remains on the books so LGBTQ+ lawmakers want to repeal it // CapRadio

SF to implement Newsom’s CARE Court plan on mental illness // KQED

SF Mayor Breed urges Biden to step up federal action on fentanyl // San Francisco Chronicle

CA homeowners’ insurer of last resort becoming only option // The San Francisco Standard

Here’s what wildfires mean for California home prices // San Francisco Chronicle

Actors approve strike authorization by overwhelming margin // Los Angeles Times 

In youth justice system, many high schoolers graduate with grade-school reading skills // EdSource

Two of SF’s largest hotels are given up by owner // San Francisco Chronicle

San Jose city council approves $18.9M, largest-ever RV safe parking site // The Mercury News

What a crackdown on homeless camps could mean for San Diego neighborhoods // Voice of San Diego

Fresno ordinance would restrict homeless camps near sensitive sites // The Fresno Bee

Opinion: The truth of what happened at SF’s controversial drug use site // San Francisco Chronicle

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