California leaders threaten other states with kidnapping charges over immigrants, legal expert weighs in

Jun 6, 2023, 9:00 PM | Updated: 9:34 pm

FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in National City, Calif., on March ...

FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in National City, Calif., on March 19, 2023. Newsom has asked lawmakers to pass a bill that would empower regulators to penalize oil companies for price gouging at the pump. The bill has its first vote in the state Senate on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Newsom and other California leaders are threatening governors of other states with kidnapping charges after nearly a couple dozen immigrants were flown to Sacramento. (Adriana Heldiz/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

(Adriana Heldiz/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is threatening Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other governors with kidnapping charges after a group of migrants were recently dropped off at a Sacramento church. One area law expert says the threat doesn’t carry much weight. 

According to ABC News, this is about California not being given advanced notice of the arrival of the immigrants. Additionally, the immigrants were also informed that they would have jobs waiting for them in California. 

This is a topic that Dave & Dujanovic discussed on Tuesday. John Huber, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss if California has a case for kidnapping charges.

Huber says the charges wouldn’t last long in a court of law.

Kidnapping charges or political blustering?

Dujanovic opens the conversation by asking, “The question at hand right now is whether California has enough evidence there to actually prosecute or is this just like political blustering?”

“I think political blustering is what you got going on here,” Huber said. “You have this posturing on both sides of the issue. It’s a pretty aggressive move to fly 32 or a couple dozen immigrants from Texas to Sacramento, the capital of the bluest state in the union.”

He goes on to say the reaction by California leaders is equally as aggressive.

“And then it’s a pretty aggressive response for the governor and the attorney general to elected leaders,” he said. “To use the word kidnapping in the same sentence or paragraph as references to a governor in another state. Those are pretty aggressive moves.”

What is kidnapping?

Dujanovic asked, “Define what kidnapping is? … Is it enticing people with the offer of a job and shelter on the other side of that flight for them to get on that plane? Does that qualify?

“I think it’s really a stretch for them to say they’ve got a kidnapping case,” Huber said. “And then, they quickly back off it and say ‘Well, everything’s on the table. We’re going to look at everything.'”

In this case, Huber says its more blustering than anything.

“Because us as Americans, when we think of kidnapping,” he said. “We think of Elizabeth Smart where you’re using force and violation and intimidation to exert your will over another person and deny them their freedom of movement.”

Listen to the entire segment.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

Read more: How a Utah shelter helped Venezuelan men settle in the US, and what it says about our immigration policy

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California leaders threaten other states with kidnapping charges over immigrants, legal expert weighs in