A county sheriff in Texas has opened a prison investigation into flights that transported dozens of migrants from the US state to Martha’s Winery final week, after observers raised questions in regards to the legality of the transfer.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar mentioned at a information convention on Monday night that 48 migrants have been “lured below false pretenses” from the streets of San Antonio, put up in a resort, and bused to planes taking them to the rich trip island in Massachusetts.
The group, which included youngsters, was “stranded unceremoniously in Martha’s Winery … for nothing apart from a photograph op”, the sheriff mentioned.
“What infuriates me most about this case is that now we have 48 people who find themselves already on laborious instances, they’re right here legally in our nation,” Salazar, a Democrat, advised reporters. “I consider they have been preyed upon.”
I’ve formally opened a prison investigation in opposition to the person(s) who lured and transported 48 migrants from the Migrant Useful resource Middle in San Antonio, TX to Martha’s Winery. In the event you or somebody you recognize has been impacted, please electronic mail email@example.com
— SheriffSalazar (@sheriffsalazar) September 20, 2022
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s up for re-election in November and seen as a attainable presidential contender in 2024, claimed credit score for the 2 flights from San Antonio.
DeSantis, in addition to Republican governors from Texas and Arizona, have been sending migrants to Democratic-controlled cities, together with two buses of migrants dropped off close to the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, DC final week.
The marketing campaign comes amid Republican criticism of Democratic President Joe Biden’s dealing with of a report variety of crossings alongside the United States-Mexico border – and because the GOP seeks to make use of immigration as a rallying level forward of the November Eight midterms.
Since April, Texas has bused about 8,000 migrants to the US capital, 2,200 to New York Metropolis and 300 to Chicago. Arizona bused greater than 1,800 to Washington, DC since Might, whereas the town of El Paso, Texas bused greater than 1,100 to New York since August 23.
DeSantis mentioned final week that Florida paid to fly the migrants to Martha’s Winery as a result of many migrants who arrive in Florida come from Texas.
A spokesperson for DeSantis mentioned immigrants have been “greater than prepared to go away Bexar County after being deserted”.
“Florida gave them a possibility to hunt greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that provided larger sources for them, as we anticipated,” DeSantis’s communications director, Taryn Fenske, mentioned in an emailed assertion to information businesses on Monday.
However migration rights advocates and Democrats have slammed the marketing campaign as inhumane.
The Biden administration mentioned the Republicans are utilizing migrants as “political pawns”.
“These have been youngsters, they have been mothers,” White Home Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned on Friday. “And what did Governor DeSantis and Governor [Greg] Abbott [of Texas] do to them? They used them as political pawns, handled them like chattel in a merciless, premeditated political stunt.”
Vanessa Cardenas, deputy director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant group, mentioned in a assertion on Monday that “within the absence of actual options, Ron DeSantis and different Republicans search to distract by cruelly scapegoating immigrants”.
“Sure, there are actual issues about border points and actual wants for options as a substitute of gamesmanship,” Cardenas mentioned.
Julio Henriquez, a lawyer who met with a number of migrants in Massachusetts, advised the Related Press information company that they “had no concept of the place they have been going or the place they have been”.
He mentioned a lady who approached the migrants at a city-run shelter in San Antonio put them up at a close-by resort the place she visited day by day with meals and reward playing cards. She promised jobs and three months of housing in Washington, DC, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, mentioned Henriquez.
The US has seen a rising variety of migrants and asylum seekers streaming to its southern border with Mexico.
In line with US Customs and Border Safety (CBP) information launched on Monday, authorities apprehended migrants 2.1 million instances on the US’s southern border between October final yr and the tip of August.
The brand new statistics embody an elevated variety of Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and others who can’t be expelled to Mexico below Title 42, a public well being order in place for the reason that starting of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many search to pursue asylum claims.
Salazar, the Texas sheriff investigating the Martha’s Winery flights, mentioned his workplace was working with advocacy organisations and attorneys representing the migrants and would coordinate with federal authorities as wanted.
“It’s unsuitable from a human rights perspective. What was achieved to those people was unsuitable,” he mentioned.