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Texas Sheriff Launches Criminal Investigation Into Migrant Flights to Martha's Vineyard; Florida Democrats Say Governor Broke Florida Law

migrants - nhpr.org - Eve Zuckoff.jfif
New Hampshire Public Radio/ Eve Zuckoff
Sheriff Javier Salazar.jfif
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar

Florida - Tuesday September 20, 2022: A Texas sheriff has launched a criminal investigation into two flights of migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts last week which were authorized by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and paid for by Florida taxpayers.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar told the San Antonio Express-News Monday that it was clear that many of the 48 migrants flown to Massachusetts were misled.

“They were lured by promises of a better life with the knowledge they could cling to whatever they were offered just to be exploited and hoodwinked,” said Sheriff Salazar. He said his investigators are already in touch with a Boston based attorney who is representing some of the migrants. Sheriff Salazar did not say what laws may have been broken and he declined to name any suspects saying it was too early in the investigation.

The AP reports that DeSantis' office responded to the reported criminal investigation with a statement saying the migrants had been given more options to succeed in Massachusetts. DeSantis at a news conference last week said - “We are not a sanctuary state and its better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction and yes we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures.”

Meanwhile, Florida House Minority Leader Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Dania Beach) accused the Governor of violating the Florida law that authorized $12-million to pay the cost of moving migrants out of Florida.

"They were not illegal immigrants" said Jenne during a Monday news conference. "They were migrants in a shelter awaiting processing." He said the migrants were "lured" onto the flights and made false promises. It cost Florida taxpayers away $615,000, he said.

"I don't think anybody contemplated that the Governor would use the $12-million for a purpose such as this." said Incoming House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D- Tampa) who joined Jenne at the news conference.

"First of all, Section 185, that is the provision that provides the funding," said Driskell. "It certainly contemplated the removal of illegal immigrants from the state of Florida, it never contemplated a situation where the Governor would go out to another state, find people who were actually not even illegal immigrants and wrap them up into a big political stunt."

Both Driskell and Jenne called on the republican leaders in the Florida Legislature to "cut the purse strings" and "stop wasting taxpayer money on political stunts."