Sunday, September 25, 2022

Texas County Sheriff opens criminal investigation into migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard

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Bexar County Sherif Javier Salazar announced the opening of the investigation during a news conference Monday, saying he believes federal, and possibly parallel, federal crimes were being committed last week when the Venezuelan migrants entered Florida’s governor’s home Ron DeSantis chartered planes, they were “lured” to the small island of Massachusetts, where they were left without assistance.

20 September (News) — A Texas county sherif said he has opened a criminal investigation into two flights that transported 48 documented migrants from an immigration center in San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Members of his organized crime unit have started the investigation, he said, adding that they had a handful of potential suspects, but the sheriff withheld their names, explaining, “I think everyone on that call already knows who those names are.” are.”

On Wednesday, the migrants landed unannounced on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island with about 15,000 permanent residents, sparking what local authorities described as a “humanitarian situation” as they scramble to find shelter and help for the new arrivals.

Lawyers representing the migrants said their clients were tricked into boarding the planes under false pretenses, saying the migrants were promised job opportunities, schooling for their children and immigration assistance. The attorneys also said their clients were told they were going to Boston and were only told that Martha’s Vineyard was their final destination mid-flight.

The move by DeSantis and that of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who sent thousands of migrants to northern counties like Chicago, New York and Washington, DC this summer, criticizes President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.

DeSantis said the flights were planned as part of his so-called immigrant resettlement program, for which he has $12 million to “insulate” Florida from the effects of federal government immigration policies.

He said the migrants were identified in San Antonio as if they were going to Florida and were offered free transportation to “protected areas” instead.

The move has been heavily criticized by human and civil rights activists and Democrats, who have accused DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential nominee, of risking human lives in a political stunt to emphasize President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.

There have also been increasing calls for local and state authorities to investigate charter flights for possible crimes.

Salazar said Monday the migrants were lured out of a migrant assistance center in San Antonio by another Venezuelan migrant, who was paid what he called a “bird dog fee” for the service.

The migrants legally in the United States were lured, misled, “exploited and tricked into boarding planes with promises of a better life for nothing more than ‘political posturing,'” he said.

“Someone came from out of state, preyed on these people, lured them with promises of a better life, which was absolutely what they were looking for, knowing they would cling to any hope they could,” he said.

When asked if politics had anything to do with opening the investigation, Salazar replied that those responsible should be prosecuted regardless of their political affiliation if the rights of individuals in the United States were violated.

“The allegations we’ve heard are absolutely in bad taste, it’s disgusting, it’s an abuse of human rights, but I’d rather find out sooner than later what, if any, charges are being leveled against whom,” he said.

He added that he has not been in contact with the White House, but that he is willing to hear from them as coordination is needed given the “high probability” of federal crimes being committed.

Salazar repeatedly said during the press conference that the migrants are legally allowed to be in the United States and most likely went through great hardship to get here.

“They had the right to roam the streets just like you or me. And they had the right not to be exploited and fooled and transported halfway across the country just for the sake of a media event, a video opportunity,” he said.

“It’s at least a tragedy. At worst, it’s probably some kind of crime.”

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