Migrants from Martha’s Vineyard had false information 3:07
(WABNEWS) — A Texas sheriff said Monday night that his agency will open an investigation into the transportation of 48 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, told reporters at a news conference Monday that he understood a Venezuelan migrant received a commission on Wednesday to recruit 50 migrants from a resource center in San Antonio.RELATED
The sheriff said he believes laws were not only violated in Bexar County by transporting nearly 50 immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, but parallel laws were also violated at the federal level.
A total of 48 migrants were “lured” to a hotel where they were housed for two days, according to Salazar.
The migrants were flown to Florida and then transported to Martha’s Vineyard under “false pretenses,” he said.
Immigrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard receive assistance 4:27
The sheriff said they were flown to Martha’s Vineyard for “a photo shoot and got stranded.” He believes the immigrants were “exploited and tricked” into making the journey for political purposes.
The sheriff has been speaking with an attorney representing some of the migrants to get firsthand accounts of what happened, Salazar told reporters.
The allegations he has heard so far are “disgusting and a violation of human rights,” he said.
Salazar said he believes there should be responsibility for what happened.
DeSantis says immigrants were treated well
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took credit for bringing immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard. In an interview with Fox News on Monday night, DeSantis defended his decision.
“They all signed consent forms to go and then the vendor that’s doing this for Florida provided them with a package that had a map of Martha’s Vineyard, it has the number of different services that are on Martha’s Vineyard,” DeSantis said.
“Why wouldn’t they want to go, given where they were? They were in very, very bad shape and had to be cleaned, everything, well treated,” he added.
Asked earlier about the investigation, DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske gave WABNEWS the following statement: “Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, homeless and ‘left behind’. to fend for themselves’.
Ron Desantis to immigrants: We are not a sanctuary state 4:33
“Florida gave them the opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered them greater resources, as we hoped. Unless the Massachusetts National Guard had abandoned these people, they have been provided housing, sustenance, clothing and more options.” to succeed after his unfair temptation to enter the United States, unlike the 53 immigrants who died in an abandoned truck in Bexar County this June.
Lawyers for many of the migrants said on Monday that the leaflets given to their clients were “highly misleading” and “used to entice (their) clients to travel under the guise that (resettlement) support was available to them.” .
The brochure lists services for refugees, including cash and housing assistance, clothing, transportation to job interviews, job training, and assistance with registering children for school, among other resources. A Venezuelan migrant, who spoke to WABNEWS on condition of anonymity out of fear of negative impacts on his immigration case, shared images of the flyer. They said the migrants were told the brochure had information about the assistance they would receive in Massachusetts, but were not told about the differences in programs for refugees and asylum seekers.
Migrants are, in many cases, asylum seekers, not refugees. Refugees apply for protection abroad and are admitted through the refugee admissions program, while asylum seekers apply within the United States.
The sheriff would appreciate federal help.
Salazar told reporters that he will work with federal agencies and would welcome help from the White House.
How are the migrants who arrived in Martha’s Vineyard living? 1:20
“Absolutely parts of this case are going to have to be federal, and there is going to have to be some coordination that goes along with it,” he said. “Absolutely, I would welcome the White House or anyone else on the federal side to call us and help us in any way they can,” he said.
President Joe Biden met with members of his administration on Friday to discuss immigration issues.
A White House official said the meeting had been planned before Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent two buses full of migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington on Thursday and DeSantis sent two planes with migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.
Biden has accused Republicans of “playing politics with human beings” and “using them as props” in response to such quibbling.
WABNEWS’s Carolyn Sung, Jamiel Lynch, Steve Almasy, Maria Santana, Polo Sandoval, Priscilla Alvarez and Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.