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Texas sheriff files criminal charges over DeSantis' migrant flight

Venezuelan migrants stand outside St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts, U.S. September 14, 2022. Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette/Handout via REUTERS
Ray Ewing
/
Vineyard Gazette via Reuters
Venezuelan migrants stand outside St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown, Mass., on Sept. 14, 2022.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar on Monday filed criminal charges over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ operation to fly dozens of migrants from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard under false pretenses.

The flight was part of a Florida initiative to transport migrants out of Texas and into Democrat-led communities — a project DeSantis has championed and celebrated.

Salazar has said that DeSantis' operation lured the migrants from San Antonio's Migrant Resource Center under false pretenses, promising them jobs in another city.

“The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has officially filed a completed criminal case with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office regarding the incident from September 2022 where 49 migrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard," Salazar's office said in a statement to TPR. "The charge filed is Unlawful Restraint and several accounts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony."

The unlawful restraint charge would be a felony for five of the migrants who were under the age of 17.

Salazar's office said it was not naming suspects involved in the case at this time.

The relocations were overseen by his chief of staff and head of public safety.

"At this time, the case is being reviewed by the DA’s office," Salazar's office said. "Once an update is available, it will be provided to the public.”

DeSantis’ office did not respond to TPR's requests for comment.

Meanwhile, The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) issued an alert to all Latino refugee communities to prevent further exploitation of vulnerable communities.

“We strongly advise individuals not to accept transportation offers from unknown individuals promising jobs, housing, and assistance without verifying the legitimacy of such proposals with local government authorities,” said LULAC’s President Domingo Garcia. “It is essential to safeguard against the trafficking of individuals for profit or political purposes.”

Copyright 2023 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Dan Katz is the news director of Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.
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