Texas sheriff launches probe into migrant flights
Texas, Sep 20: A Texas sheriff on Monday opened a criminal investigation into flights of migrants sent to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, an act that was claimed by Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis. The 48 Venezuelans had been put on private planes from San Antonio last week.
The White House has since called the move a political stunt.
Migrants 'lured under false pretenses'
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, who is an elected Democrat, said at a news conference on Monday that the migrants were "lured under false pretenses" on the streets of San Antonio, in order to be "stranded unceremoniously in Martha's Vineyard," a wealthy vacation island, "for nothing other than a photo op."
According to him, investigators so far had only spoken to attorneys representing a number of the Venezuelans. No potential suspects had been named until now.
"I believe there is some criminal activity involved here,'' Salazar said. "But at present we are trying to keep an open mind and we are going to investigate to find out what exact laws were broken if that does turn out to be the case.''
'An opportunity to seek greener pastures', says Florida's Governor DeSantis
However, DeSantis's office issued a statement saying that the Venezuelans had been given more opportunities in Massachusetts.
"Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, homeless, and left to fend for themselves,'' DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said.
"Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected.''
Details of flight arrangement still unclear
Details of the flight arrangement and payment remain unclear to this point, but a lawyer stated that a recruiter approached the migrants at a city-run shelter in San Antonio and promised them three months of housing in major metropolitan areas such as Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston as well as employment opportunities.
Further Democrats have urged the Justice Department to investigate the flights.