Texas sheriff will investigate Florida flying Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

Fla.  government.  Ron DeSantis

Fla. government. Ron DeSantis

swalsh@miamiherald.com

Texas officials have opened a criminal investigation into Governor Ron DeSantis’ operation to fly about 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week.

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

“The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has launched an investigation into migrants who were seduced from the Migrant Resource Center located in Bexar County, TX, and flown to Florida, where they were eventually left to fend for themselves in Martha’s Vineyard, MA Went,” Salazar said, referring to an aid center for migrants in San Antonio, which is in Bexar County.

Salazar said his office was working with private lawyers for migrants as well as advocacy groups.

“We are preparing to work with any federal agencies that have concurrent jurisdiction, if needed,” said Salazar, who is a Democrat.

Several migrants said a woman known as “Perla” approached them outside the migrant center and offered them jobs and support when they flew to Massachusetts. Those claims of jobs and other opportunities turned out to be false because Martha’s Vineyard officials were unprepared for his arrival on Wednesday.

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

The full name and connections of “Perla” have not yet been publicly revealed.

brochure 2.png
brochure courtesy civil rights lawyer

DeSantis claimed responsibility for the two charter flights, saying they were operated with Florida taxpayer money. All migrants boarded in San Antonio, although the plane stopped for refueling in the Florida Panhandle.

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

Read more: ‘Easy picking’: Texas town where Martha’s Vineyard trial begins, some options for migrants

Instead, he emailed a screenshot of a news story with the headline: “Bexar County Sheriff Salazar Says Biden Admin’s Management of Immigration ‘Not Working.’ ,

This is breaking news and will be updated.

This story was originally published September 19, 2022 at 6:02 pm.

Sarah Blasky is an award-winning investigative reporter for the Miami Herald and a data expert for the investigative team. She is a co-author of “The Grifters Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago, and the Sailing of the Presidency” and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism.

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Nicolas Nehamas is an investigative reporter at the Miami Herald, where he was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that broke the Panama Papers in 2016. He and his Herald colleagues were also named Pulitzer finalists for the 2019 “Dirty Gold, Clean” series. Cash.” He is the co-author of two books: “The Griffers Club: Trump, Mar-a-Lago, and the Sailing of the Presidency” and “Dirty Gold: The Rise and Fall of an International Smuggling Ring.” That 2014 I joined the Herald.
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