, 2022-09-20 17:12:15,
A Texas sheriff said Monday he was opening a criminal investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ migrant flight to Martha’s Vineyard as the stunt continues to draw criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans and DeSantis defends what he calls a protest of border policies.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced the probe on Monday night, saying that his office believes the migrants who were shuttled to the Massachusetts island on Sept. 14 were lured under false pretenses, which DeSantis denies.
“What infuriates me the most about this case is that here we have 48 people that are already on hard times, right?” Salazar said at a press conference. “They are here legally, in our country. At that point, they have every right to be where they are. And I believe that they were preyed upon.”
Immigration attorneys working with some of the asylum-seekers told ABC News that the migrants were given misleading information, including brochures, about benefits they could receive in Massachusetts.
A civil rights group representing at least three of the affected migrants on Tuesday filed a class-action lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida officials, claiming their clients were lured under false pretenses as part of a “political stunt.”
The governor has defended the migrant drop-off as a protest of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies as border encounters remain at a record high. DeSantis has repeatedly insisted the migrants volunteered to be taken to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas.
“Why wouldn’t they want to go, given where they were?” he said during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Monday night. “They were in really, really bad shape.”
What potential violations are being investigated?
Salazar said Monday that his office believes a Venezuelan migrant was paid a “bird-dog fee” to lure roughly 50 migrants to be taken to Martha’s Vineyard, where they would be promised work and a better life.
“There’s a high possibility that the laws were broken here in the state of Texas in Bexar County,” Salazar said.
But he declined to reveal any specific statutes he thinks may have been violated at the federal, state or local level.
He also didn’t identify any suspects.
“We do have the names of some suspects involved that we believe are persons of interest in this case at this point, but I won’t be parting with those names,” he said….
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