Three Migrants Shipped to Martha's Vineyard by DeSantis Granted U-Visas as Crime Victims

49 Venezuelan migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard by Florida's governor now granted U-visas, highlighting ongoing debate over immigration policies and use of taxpayer funds for political purposes.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Three Migrants Shipped to Martha's Vineyard by DeSantis Granted U-Visas as Crime Victims

Three Migrants Shipped to Martha's Vineyard by DeSantis Granted U-Visas as Crime Victims

In September 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis arranged for 49 Venezuelan migrants, deemed, get to be flown from San Antonio, Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Now, in April 2024, at least three of those migrants have been granted U-visas, a special type of visa for victims of certain crimes who have assisted law enforcement.

Immigration attorney Rachel Self reported that the three migrants have received "bona fide determinations" for their U-visa applications so far, and she expects more to be granted in the coming weeks. The U-visa process has become an unexpected lifeline for these immigrants, allowing them to gain, work legally in the U.S. while awaiting a final decision on their petitions.

The Bexar County Sheriff's Office in Texas has investigated the matter and contends the migrants were victims of a crime. Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, launched a criminal probe into the flights, alleging that the migrants were exploited and hoodwinked with false promises of jobs and housing upon arrival in Martha's Vineyard.

However, Governor DeSantis has claimed the migrants boarded the flights voluntarily and legally. His office insisted that the immigrants agreed to take the flights of their own free will. Despite the allegations, DeSantis has hinted at the possibility of flying more migrants to the wealthy island community, citing the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Why this matters: The case highlights the ongoing debate over immigration policies and the treatment of migrants in the U.S. It also raises questions about the use of taxpayer funds for transporting migrants across state lines for political purposes.

A lawsuit was filed against DeSantis and the airplane charter company, Vertol Systems, by the Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights group. They argued that the migrants, states, like, seek, justice, receive did not know they would end up in Martha's Vineyard, where work was scarce. A federal judge dismissed DeSantis and his administration as defendants but allowed the suit to continue against Vertol Systems.

Lawyers for the migrants allege that contractors working for DeSantis made false promises to lure the illegal immigrants onto the flights. "They were told there was a surprise present for them, and that there would be jobs and housing awaiting for them when they arrived. But those were obviously bold-faced lies," said attorney Jacob Love, who is representing the migrants.

The U.S. Congress only permits 10,000 U-visas to be issued annually, and the Bexar County Sheriff's investigation has not yet resulted in any criminal charges. However, the migrants' legal team is confident that more of their clients will be granted U-visas in the near future as the case unfolds.

Key Takeaways

  • In 2022, FL Gov. DeSantis arranged for 49 Venezuelan migrants to be flown to MA.
  • At least 3 migrants have been granted U-visas, allowing them to work legally.
  • Bexar County Sheriff's Office claims migrants were victims of a crime, launching probe.
  • DeSantis claims migrants boarded flights voluntarily, may fly more to Martha's Vineyard.
  • Lawsuit filed against DeSantis, alleging migrants were lured with false promises.