Texas sheriff declares Martha's Vineyard migrants crime victims
Why it matters: Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar's actions will enable the mostly Venezuelan migrants to obtain a special visa they otherwise wouldn't have received, enabling them to remain in the U.S., per the Texas Tribune.
What they're saying: "Based upon the claims of migrants being transported from Bexar County under false pretenses, we are investigating this case as possible Unlawful Restraint," said Salazar, an elected Democrat who's opened a criminal investigation into the migrant flights, on Thursday evening.
- "We have submitted documentation through the federal system to ensure the migrants' availability as witnesses during the investigation," he added in his emailed statement.
The big picture: DeSantis last month joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in transporting migrants and asylum seekers to predominantly Democratic-run cities in protest of President Biden's immigration policies.
- While Abbott has arranged for migrants to be bussed to cities like Washington, New York and Chicago, DeSantis sent the migrants via two charter planes from Texas to Martha's Vineyard.
- DeSantis, who maintains the flights to the Massachusetts island were part of a voluntary program involving consent forms, is facing several legal challenges to his actions.
What we're watching: In addition to Salazar's probe, the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation into the transport of the undocumented migrants to Martha's Vineyard.
- Among the legal challenges DeSantis and other Florida officials face is a class action lawsuit filed by the migrants flown to Massachusetts, who allege they were lured onto the flights with false promises of money and job assistance — allegations the governor denies.