DeSantis hits the sheriff’s investigation with reference to migrant tragedy

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending his migrant resettlement program after a Texas sheriff launched a criminal investigation into whether Venezuelans were illegally lured to Martha’s Vineyard with false promises of jobs and homes.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced during a news conference Monday that an investigation would begin into reports that migrants living in his county, which includes San Antonio, were “hunted” for “political theater.” had been. DeSantis, a Republican, last week praised the surprise arrival of two planes carrying migrants in the wealthy Massachusetts enclave. Despite allegations of human trafficking violations and now a local investigation, DeSantis claims he wants to help.

Salazar, a Democrat, stressed during the press conference that the 48 migrants who were taken to Martha’s Vineyard were legally in the US in search of a better life before being “unceremoniously stranded in Martha’s Vineyard.”

He said he believes there had been “criminal activity” and said another Venezuelan migrant was paid a “bird dog fee” to escort the others out of a migrant resource center in San Antonio with promises of jobs and other resources recruit.

San Antonio Refugee Center
Groups of migrants wait outside the Migrant Resource Center to receive food from San Antonio Catholic Charities September 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. The resource center originated the two planeloads of mostly Venezuelan migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

“I can tell you right now that the allegations we’ve heard are absolutely in bad taste,” Salazar told reporters. “It’s disgusting. It’s a violation of human rights. But I’d rather find out sooner than later what charges, if any, are being brought against whom.”

Salazar said the migrants were fleeing hardship in Venezuela, which is experiencing economic meltdown and oppression, and thought their problems were solved by boarding the flight to Martha’s Vineyard just to sign up for “a video or photo op” fooling”.

DeSantis justified the relocation by saying he was sending the migrants into what he called a “sanctuary jurisdiction,” which accommodates migrants and unauthorized immigrants. DeSantis again defended the migrant posting in a statement to Orlando NBC affiliate WESH, and also did a dig in Bexar County, where at least 50 migrants were found dead in a semi-truck in late June.

“Immigrants were more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, made homeless and ‘left to their own devices,'” he said. “Florida gave them the opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary that, as we expected, offered them greater resources.”

After Martha’s Vineyard struggled to accommodate the migrants, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the men, women and children flown to the island were taken to Joint Base Cape Cod, where they were provided with housing and services.

DeSantis said the migrants are now being cared for and have “options to succeed after being unfairly lured to the United States, unlike the 53 immigrants who died in an abandoned truck in Bexar County this June.”

Salazar has had few details about the investigation so far, but said he is working with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is in contact with the migrants.

Domingo Garcia, national president of LULAC, said news week in an interview that all migrants brought to Martha’s Vineyard had previously surrendered to immigration authorities and were paroled while awaiting hearings for their asylum applications in the United States

He said human trafficking programs targeting migrants are not new and often include promises of permanent employment but end with the migrants becoming indentured servants.

Nearly a dozen Venezuelan migrants told his organization that a woman, referred to in other reports as “Perla,” approached them at a McDonald’s across from the refugee center in San Antonio and offered them three months of work, transportation, shelter and food if they agreed to board the plane, Garcia said.

The migrants didn’t know where they were going, but with no options, they agreed, Garcia said. On board the plane, they were given a folder with a map of Martha’s Vineyard and a brochure listing refugee center services, he said.

But the location of the refugee center turned out to be an empty parking lot, Garcia said. One migrant told Garcia she couldn’t believe they had been played with for politics, while another described being completely lost.

“They were getting false documents from people and lies upon lies to be used as political props by Governor DeSantis,” Garcia said. “It was one of the most cruel, sadistic acts of political propaganda in American history.”

Refugee services are currently helping the migrants who have immigration lawyers and apply for work permits, he said.

Now at the military base, Garcia said the migrants are trying to be reunited with family and friends in the US.

However, these addresses are spread across the country, Garcia said. He described how a man asked the distance to Portland, Oregon, not knowing it was across the country. They are now at risk of missing immigration court appointments across the country, he said.

“They don’t have a dollar in their name,” he said. “How will they get to Washington State from Cape Code, Massachusetts?”

https://www.newsweek.com/desantis-strikes-sheriffs-probe-reference-migrant-tragedy-1744311 DeSantis hits the sheriff’s investigation with reference to migrant tragedy

Rick Schindler

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