Criminal investigation launched into DeSantis asylum seeker flights

Texas county sheriff says it seems evident that asylum seekers had been ‘lured’ to travel to Martha’s Vineyard ‘under false pretenses’

A criminal investigation has been launched in Texas into whether dozens of asylum seekers were illegally flown from the state to Martha’s Vineyard, as new evidence continues to emerge suggesting they were misled.

The Bexar county sheriff, Javier Salazar, said on Monday that his office was investigating the flights, chartered on behalf of the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, which brought dozens of migrants to the island in Massachusetts.

While Salazar did not name possible subjects in the inquiry, he said: “Everybody on this call knows who those names are already,” according to NBC News.

Salazar did not discuss what specific laws might have been broken, but said it seemed evident that asylum seekers had been “lured under false pretenses”, with a recruiter given a “bird dog fee” to gather dozens of people who were outside a San Antonio migrant resource center.

“They were promised work,” said Salazar. “They were promised the solution to several of their problems.”

Many of the asylum seekers were given pamphlets advertising cash assistance, help with housing, job training and other resources if they came to Massachusetts.

But the promised benefits are only available for refugees, a specific categorization under US immigration law that the asylum seekers do not currently fall under.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based group representing 30 of the recent arrivals, shared links and images of the brochures on Twitter.

“This is additional evidence that shows in writing that those false representations were made in order to induce our clients to travel,” said Oren Sellstrom, the group’s litigation director, to NBC News.

The group has also called for a federal and state criminal investigation into the chartered flights.

A spokesperson from DeSantis’s office defended the flights and the brochures, saying that migrants were sent to “greener pastures” and to places that had more resources than Bexar county.

The flights are just one instance of a broader pattern of Republican officials sending thousands of asylum seekers to predominantly Democratic-voting areas, a stunt that Democrats have slammed as illegal and wrong.

“There is a process that is in place. And what they are doing is an illegal stunt, is a political stunt,” said the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre.


Gloria Oladipo

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Texas sheriff files criminal case over DeSantis flights to Martha’s Vineyard
Sheriff recommends charges over flights arranged by Florida governor to deport 49 South American migrants to wealthy island

Adam Gabbatt

06, Jun, 2023 @1:05 PM

Article image
Ex-US army medic allegedly lured migrants on to flights to Martha’s Vineyard
Perla Huerta was reportedly sent to Texas from Florida to fill planes chartered by DeSantis, offering gift cards to asylum seekers

Coral Murphy Marcos

03, Oct, 2022 @1:59 PM

Article image
Advocates for migrants who were sent to Martha’s Vineyard sue Ron DeSantis
Suit says Venezuelans were ‘used as political pawns’ in a ‘fraudulent and discriminatory’ scheme

Nina Lakhani in New York

20, Sep, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
Aviation company used for migrant flights contributed to DeSantis allies
Vertol Systems Inc also has connections to a Florida official in charge of its current immigration policy

Gloria Oladipo in New York

23, Sep, 2022 @6:26 PM

Article image
DeSantis sends migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, causing ‘humanitarian situation’
Florida governor sends about 50 people with no apparent notice, while Venezuelan migrants from Texas bussed to Washington DC

Richard Luscombe

15, Sep, 2022 @4:10 PM

Article image
Ron DeSantis landslide victory brings Trump and 2024 into focus
Crowd in Tampa chant encouragement to run for president as Florida governor revels in big win and even channels Churchill

Martin Pengelly in New York

09, Nov, 2022 @3:13 PM

Article image
‘If they catch us they’ll deport us’: DeSantis law hinders Idalia recovery
People who worked on recovery efforts afraid to travel to Florida in case they are targeted by immigration authorities

Michael Sainato in Gainesville, Florida

12, Sep, 2023 @10:00 AM

Article image
DeSantis and Trump campaigns drawn into angry quarrel over private-jet story
Florida governor says Washington Post report about undisclosed trips on donors’ planes a case of ‘Trump-legacy media collusion’

Martin Pengelly in Washington

14, Sep, 2023 @2:50 PM

Article image
Expect the Trump-DeSantis animosity to evolve into open warfare after midterms
Analysis: Polls show DeSantis positioned to win re-election on Tuesday but political opponents say his focus is locked on a White House run

Richard Luscombe

07, Nov, 2022 @8:45 PM

Article image
US turns back growing number of undocumented people after arduous sea journeys
Biden shifts toward political center as likely presidential rival Ron DeSantis calls out national guard

Richard Luscombe in Miami and agencies

16, Jan, 2023 @11:00 AM