The community of Martha's Vineyard opened shelter beds on Wednesday to accommodate an unexpected influx of migrants who were flown to the island by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. On Monday, authorities in Texas filed charges in connection to the migrants transportation from Texas to Massachusetts. Photo courtesy Massachusetts State Rep. Dylan Fernandes/Facebook
June 5 (UPI) -- A Texas county sheriff investigating September's involuntarily transportation of 49 migrants from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard recommended on Monday that criminal charges be filed in the case.
The Bexar County Sheriff's Office confirmed Monday in a statement to UPI that the case had been filed with the county's district attorney's office for consideration, though it did not specify who the defendant or defendants were.
"The charge filed is unlawful restraint and several accounts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony," the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said. "At this time, the case is being reviewed by the DA's office."
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar had announced the launch of his investigation in mid-September, days after dozens of migrants were flown to Massachusetts' Martha's Vineyard, a small island of some 15,000 permanent residents who were caught off guard and unprepared for the arrival.
The migrants, who were mostly from Venezuela, were flown from Texas upon two flights chartered by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The conservative governor, who recently announced his candidacy for president, had said that he paid for the flights to "insulate" Florida from the impacts of the federal government's immigration policies.
Lawyers representing the migrants have said their clients were induced to board the planes under false pretenses, stating the migrants were promised work opportunities, schooling for their children and immigration assistance. The lawyers also said their clients were told they were going to Boston and were only informed that Martha's Vineyard was their final destination mid-flight.
DeSantis and other Republican governors have feuded with the Biden administration over the Democrat's immigration policies and have resorted to dramatic displays of bussing and flying migrants to so-called sanctuary cities in protest, attracting staunch criticism not only from Democratic lawmakers but from migrant and human rights advocates.
As the Texas case was being referred to the district attorney for charges, California said it has launched an investigation after 16 migrants were flown to Sacramento from New Mexico on Friday. The officials said the migrants were originally from Texas.
The California officials suggested that they were flown to the western state by DeSantis as the migrants were in possession of documents purportedly issued by the state of Florida.
DeSantis has yet to comment on either development. In May, he signed into law Senate Bill 1718, immigration-related legislation that, among other things, gives him $12 million for his Unauthorized Alien Transport Program.