Posted on September 20, 2022

Texas Sheriff Investigating DeSantis’ Role in Flying Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

Andrew Atterbury, Politico, September 19, 2022

A Texas sheriff on Monday opened an investigation into the legality of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent move to fly dozens of mostly Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, an elected Democrat, said that while he could not cite specific laws that may have been broken by relocating the migrants, his office will be investigating what he called an “abuse of human rights.” The threat of criminal charges is an escalation against DeSantis amid widespread criticism from Democrats as the Republican governor promises to continue diverting migrants in Texas as a statement against Biden administration immigration policies.

“Somebody saw fit to come from another state, hunt them down, prey upon them, and then take advantage of their desperate situation just for the sake of political theater, just for the sake of making a statement,” Salazar told reporters Monday. “I believe people need to be held accountable for it to the extent possible.”

The DeSantis administration last week paid an aviation company $615,000 to transport some 48 migrants from San Antonio — located in Bexar County — to the elite vacation enclave in Massachusetts. The Republican-led Florida Legislature had approved $12 million this spring for moving migrants out of Florida to other states, something DeSantis is now capitalizing on as he seeks reelection this fall.

The sheriff’s move follows requests from Democrats, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Rachael Rollins, for the Justice Department to investigate DeSantis over the flights. Democrats — including President Joe Biden — had also derided DeSantis’ action as either “reckless” or a “stunt.”


Salazar told reporters Monday that the migrants were “lured” away from a migrant resource center in San Antonio under “false pretenses” such as the promise of work before ultimately winding up in Martha’s Vineyard. {snip}


When asked by reporters, Salazar said the investigation “doesn’t have anything to do with political affiliation.”

“At this point I’m not able to definitively say ‘Here’s the statute that they broke,’ either federal, state, or local,” Salazar said. “But what I can tell you is it’s wrong. From a human rights perspective, what was done to these folks was wrong.”