Newsom slams ‘morally reprehensible’ migrant transports despite launching homeless bus program as SF mayor

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California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is accusing Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott of possible kidnapping and has called their transporting of illegal immigrants to progressive states “morally reprehensible,” despite launching a program as San Francisco mayor that bussed thousands of homeless people out of San Francisco and the state.

Fox News Digital first reported on Wednesday that DeSantis sent two planes full of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard after promising he would relocate them to a “sanctuary destination.” Abbott similarly began sending thousands of illegals to Washington, D.C., in April and has since sent busloads to New York City and Chicago.

Newsom responded to DeSantis’ latest action by sending a letter asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether the governors sending migrants out of their states are breaking the law by kidnapping.

DeSantis fired back during an unrelated news conference in Daytona, describing the flights as “voluntary” and saying Newsom’s letter shows his “hair gel is interfering with his brain function.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis  (Getty)

GAVIN NEWSOM, RON DESANTIS WAR OF WORDS A POSSIBLE 2024 OR 2028 PREVIEW

Newsom responded on Twitter by challenging DeSantis to a debate, writing, “I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray.”

Abbott also slammed Newsom for claiming migrants are being “kidnapped” and said the migrants volunteer to be bussed elsewhere.

“I know the law very well. We have followed the law to the T and made sure everything we’ve done comports with federal law,” Abbott told Fox News on Friday.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to 2022 CPAC crowd in Dallas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to 2022 CPAC crowd in Dallas. (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)

The war of words between the governors came nearly two decades after then-San Francisco Mayor Newsom launched “Homeward Bound,” which gave homeless people in the city a one-way Greyhound bus ticket out of the city.

An NPR reporter who interviewed Newsom in 2006 described the program as the mayor’s “brainchild.”

“Remember, the vast majority of people that are out on the sidewalks are not from San Francisco originally, and they all have some contacts somewhere, a godparent, a mother, brother, sister, uncle, son, daughter,” Newsom argued at the time. “And those are the people, beyond anything else, that can help turn their lives around.”

In 2019, Newsom told “Axios on HBO” that the “vast majority” of the homeless people who participated in the program came from Texas – a “ridiculous claim,” according to PolitiFact, which gave the then-mayor a “Pants on Fire” rating. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a bill signing ceremony in Oakland on Feb. 9, 2022.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a bill signing ceremony in Oakland on Feb. 9, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PolitiFact found at the time that, based on San Francisco’s own figures from 2004 through 2018, approximately 20% of Homeward Bound’s trips took place inside California, and about 80% took place out of state. Texas was the most popular destination outside of California, but only accounted for about 6.7% of the trips, far from the “vast majority,” as Newsom claimed.

In June, Homeward Bound ended as a standalone program and was fully integrated into California’s Access Points program by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, which provides services to homeless adults throughout the state.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Newsom’s communications director Erin Mellon said “there is no comparison” between Homeward Bound and the actions of DeSantis and Abbott.

“There is no comparison between the two,” Mellon said. “SF helped people get home to their families. GOP Republicans kidnapped people for a political stunt.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Veterans Home of California, May 22, 2020, in Yountville, California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Veterans Home of California, May 22, 2020, in Yountville, California. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, Pool, File)

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“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,” she 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,” she added. “Their behavior is monstrous. 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.”

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