Texas sheriff to investigate Florida stranding migrants in Martha's Vineyard

San Antonio, Texas - Authorities in Texas have opened a criminal investigation into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' operation to fly roughly 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts last week.

Venezuelan migrants stand outside St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts.
Venezuelan migrants stand outside St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts.  © REUTERS

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said in a news release Monday that his office is investigating whether the migrants were the victims of a crime.

"The Bexar County Sheriff's Office has opened an investigation into the migrants that were lured from the Migrant Resource Center, located in Bexar County, TX, and flown to Florida, where they were ultimately left to fend for themselves in Martha's Vineyard, MA," said Salazar, referring to an aid center for migrants in San Antonio, which is in Bexar County.

Salazar said his office was working with private attorneys for the migrants, as well as advocacy groups.

"We are also preparing to work with any federal agencies that have concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise," added Salazar, who is a Democrat.

Several migrants said that a woman known as "Perla" approached them outside the migrant center and offered them jobs and assistance if they flew to Massachusetts. Those claims of employment and other opportunities turned out to be false as officials on Martha's Vineyard were unprepared for their arrival Wednesday.

In addition, brochures provided to the migrants said they could receive cash assistance and employment services in Massachusetts. The brochures included the phone number and website of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants. The office said it did not print the brochures, which were shared with the Herald by Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based legal group representing some of the migrants.

"Perla's" full name and connections have not yet been publicly revealed.

DeSantis takes responsibility for the flights

DeSantis has taken responsibility for the two charter flights, saying they were conducted with Florida taxpayer money. All the migrants boarded in San Antonio, although the planes stopped in Florida's Panhandle to refuel.

In response to a request for comment, Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis' deputy press secretary did not respond with words.

Instead, he emailed a screenshot of a news story with the headline: "Bexar County Sheriff Salazar says Biden admin's handling of immigration 'isn't working.'"

Cover photo: REUTERS

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