Texas sheriff to investigate DeSantis ferrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

A Texas sheriff will investigate flights organized by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) to transport dozens of Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, allegedly after making false promises of work and other services.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said it had opened an investigation into last week’s incident, in which migrants were ‘lured from their county’s migrant resource center’ – which covers the greater San Antonio – and flown to Florida, then to Martha’s Vineyard, where they were “left to their own devices”.

“Additionally, we are working with private attorneys who represent victims, as well as advocacy organizations regarding this incident,” Sheriff Javier Salazar (D) said in a statement. “We are also preparing to work with any federal agencies that have concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise.”

DeSantis surprised federal and state officials Wednesday by sending migrants who recently crossed the US-Mexico border to the affluent resort island of Massachusetts. The move is part of an ongoing campaign by DeSantis and other Republican governors in Texas and Arizona to send migrants to heavily Democratic cities such as Washington, New York and Chicago to publicize the growing number crossings this year at the southern border.

Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard from Florida said they were surprised when they arrived on the island on September 15. (Video: Reuters)

About 50 migrants – including men, women and children – boarded shuttle flights from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, with a brief stopover in Florida. Many of them later told lawyers and immigration advocates that they had been promised jobs and other benefits if they made it to Massachusetts. This was not the case.

“They were promised a solution to many of their problems,” Salazar said Monday. “They were taken to Martha’s Vineyard, from what we can gather, for little more than a photo op, a video op, and then they were unceremoniously stuck in Martha’s Vineyard.”

Requests for comment made late in the day to DeSantis’ communications office went unanswered.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he spoke to the sheriff about his decision to investigate.

“We thought early on that if they were lured under false pretenses, it could be a crime,” Wolff said. “If you think about what smugglers do, it’s not much different.”

He said it was unclear whether the recruiters could be connected to DeSantis, but, “if it turns out things were done wrong, he could be held responsible. He instigated it.

Democrats and immigration advocates decried the incident as a political stunt; the White House criticized DeSantis and other Republican governors “using migrants as political pawns” as “shameful…reckless and just plain wrong.”

“There is a process that is in place. And what they’re doing is an illegal coup, it’s a political stunt,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week. humanity.”

Jean-Pierre asked about whether the Biden administration would take legal action with the Justice Department.

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Lori Rozsa, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff and Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report.

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