A criminal investigation has been opened 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 .
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Monday his office is investigating the flights, chartered on behalf of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, that brought dozens of migrants to Massachusetts Island.
Although Salazar did not name possible subjects in the investigation, he said, “Everyone on this call already knows who those names are.” according to NBC News.
Salazar did not discuss the specific laws that may have been broken, but said it seemed obvious the asylum seekers had been “lured in under false pretences”, with one recruiter receiving a “dog dog fee”. bird” to round up dozens of people who were outside a San Antonio migrant resource center.
“We promised them work” says Salazar. “They were promised the solution to many of their problems.”
Many asylum seekers received pamphlets advertising cash assistance, housing assistance, job training, and other resources if they came to Massachusetts.
But the promised benefits are only available to refugees, a specific categorization under US immigration law that 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 pamphlets on Twitter.
“This is further evidence that shows in writing that these misrepresentations were made for the purpose of enticing our customers to travel,” said Oren Sellstrom, Group General Counsel, at NBC News.
The group also called for a federal and state criminal investigation into the charter flights.
A spokesperson for DeSantis’ office defended the thefts and the pamphlets, saying the migrants were sent to “greener pastures” and to places that had more resources than Bexar County.
The robberies are just one example of a larger pattern of Republican officials sending thousands of asylum seekers to Democratic majority voting areas, a move Democrats have called illegal and bogus.
“There is a process that is in place. And what they’re doing is an illegal stunt, it’s a political stunt,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.