USA: They investigate the transfer of 48 migrants in private planes

Police in a Texas county opened an investigation Monday into migrants who were flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, but did not say what laws may have been violated by moving the 48 Venezuelans on private planes from San Antonio last week.

Bexar County Police Chief Javier Salazar, an elected Democrat, called the flights out of his city political manipulation. But he noted that so far investigators have only spoken with attorneys representing some of the migrants and have not identified any potential suspects who could face charges.

He also did not mention DeSantis at a news conference that appeared to mark the first time a law enforcement official said he would investigate the flights.

“I think there is some criminal activity,” Salazar said. “But right now we try to keep an open mind and we’re going to investigate to find out exactly what laws were violated, if that was the case.”

DeSantis’ office responded with a statement saying migrants were presented with more options to get to Massachusetts.

“Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being left homeless and left to fend for themselves,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said. “Florida gave them the opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered them greater resources, just as we had hoped.”

Venezuelan migrants who were flown Wednesday to the wealthy island of Massachusetts from San Antonio said they were told they were going to Boston. Julio Henriquez, a lawyer who met with several of the migrants, said they “had no idea where they were going or where they were.”

He noted that a Latina woman approached the migrants at a city-run shelter in San Antonio and put them up at a nearby hotel, bringing them food and gift cards daily. She promised them jobs and housing for three months in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, according to her Henriquez.

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Salazar said that they “took advantage” of the migrants and that they were “deceived.”

Some Democrats have called on the Justice Department to investigate the flights, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and US Rep. Joaquin Castro, whose district includes San Antonio.

However, a federal investigation could prove complicated. It is unclear whether anyone boarded the buses or planes against his will, or whether his civil rights were violated. The rights of asylum seekers arriving in the United States are also limited because they are not US citizens. However, the Constitution protects them from discrimination based on race or nationality or from improper treatment by the government.


Associated Press writers Acacia Coronado and David Fischer in Miami contributed to this report.