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Democrat Texas sheriff helping to give migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard 'victims of crimes' visas
Screenshot of KENS 5 YouTube video (pictured: Sheriff Javier Salazar)

Democrat Texas sheriff helping to give migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard 'victims of crimes' visas

A Democrat sheriff in Texas has taken steps to ensure that at least some of the migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard a year and a half ago may remain in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

In September 2022, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida sent nearly 50 migrants, who made a brief stop in his state after crossing into the U.S. in Texas, to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, an island with six of the wealthiest, most exclusive towns in America, all of which adopted sanctuary policies regarding illegal immigrants several years ago.

Now, at least three of those migrants have been given "bona fide determinations" that will allow them to work legally in the U.S. as they await their U visas. U visas, short for U nonimmigrant status visas, are granted to some illegal immigrants who have been "victims of crimes" and yet have helped "law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity," said a website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

As U visas can eventually transition into permanent residence status and perhaps even citizenship, the federal government caps the number of U visas each year at 10,000.

One precondition for obtaining a U visa is confirmation from "an authorized official" from a law enforcement agency that a migrant has been "helpful, and [is] currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of [a] case," USCIS noted.

Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County, Texas, is one such authorized law enforcement official. Shortly after the migrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard, Salazar — an identity-politics Democrat who has bragged about taking "action against government overreach toward women and minorities" — held a press conference, accusing DeSantis of committing "an abuse of human rights." However, at the time, he was unable to identify the criminal statute DeSantis had violated, as Blaze News previously reported.

Salazar quickly changed his tune and began pressuring Bexar County prosecutors to file felony and misdemeanor charges of unlawful restraint, arguing DeSantis and others had convinced the migrants to agree to fly to Martha's Vineyard under false pretenses. Such migrants were "exploited and hoodwinked into making this trip," Salazar claimed.

Thus far, the Bexar DA has made no moves to charge anyone in connection with the Martha's Vineyard flights. Nevertheless, Salazar confirmed that some of the migrants assisted his office's investigation into the flights, thereby rendering those migrants eligible for U visas.

Gov. DeSantis has long defended his decision to authorize relocating migrants from Florida to Massachusetts. "Immigrants have been more than willing to leave Bexar County after being abandoned, homeless, and 'left to fend for themselves,'" a statement from a DeSantis representative issued at the time read in part. "Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected."

However, a judge in Massachusetts seems eager to go after at least some of those who participated in the Martha's Vineyard flights. Though she dismissed DeSantis and his associates from a lawsuit filed by some of the migrants, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs argued earlier this month that Vertol Systems, which arranged the flights, should be held accountable because it "specifically targeted ... Latinx immigrants."

"Vertol participated in a scheme to recruit vulnerable individuals through deceit so they could unwillingly and publicly be used as a prop in an extremely divisive national debate," Burroughs wrote.

DeSantis did not respond to the Miami Herald's request for comment about the latest developments in this case.

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →