Public records shed light on migrant flights from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard

Documents include three videos, nearly 200 pages

SAN ANTONIO – Public records released by the Office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shed new light on the chartered flights that departed from Kelly Field in San Antonio on Sept. 14.

Three videos and nearly 200 pages, including text messages, quotes for chartered flights and multiple pictures, were made public on Friday.

The National League of United Latin American Citizens Network, or LULAC, and media outlets, submitted Public Records Requests to piece together who was behind the operation to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

“The governor’s office in Florida refused to give us information regarding public dollars the Florida taxpayers paid for, and it was only until we had the Freedom of Information Act we were able to get these documents,” said Domingo García, president of LULAC.

Pictures show nearly 50 migrants, including children, standing in line to board a chartered flight from San Antonio to Massachusetts. The flights were paid for by the State of Florida, according to the public records.

“This was a plot, a conspiracy by the Governor of Florida, (Ron) DeSantis,” García said.

On September 15, DeSantis took credit for transporting the migrants. Four days later, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar launched a criminal investigation.

“I believe that they were preyed upon. Somebody came from out of state, preyed upon these people, lured them with promises of a better life,” Salazar said in a virtual press conference.

In the pictures included in the public records, an off-duty Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy and K-9 are seen checking the luggage of migrants. The deputy’s BCSO unit is pictured in the background.

On Tuesday, a BCSO spokesperson sent the following statement to KSAT:

“We are aware a deputy was at the scene. Early in the investigation, this deputy came forward with information he witnessed which corroborated some of the information supplied by many of the migrants. He is considered a cooperating witness in the case, and is not suspected of any wrongdoing at this time.”

Screenshots of text messages sent through WhatsApp give insight into the communication between migrants and Perla Huerta, the woman allegedly at the center of the migrant flights.

In one text message, Perla said in Spanish, “They will hate me today, but no one would have given you this opportunity.”

The migrant, whose name is not included, replied in Spanish, “I don’t hate you. I know what you were doing.”

However, García said the migrants were deceived.

“This was a plot, a conspiracy by the Governor of Florida,” García said. “These promises of jobs, promises of homes, promises of shelter and social services were all a lie just to get them on a jet for political props. (The migrants) felt they were lied to.”

The documents from DeSantis’ office include 49 signed copies of a document titled “Official Consent To Transport.”

It reads, “I, (blank), born on (blank), agree to be transported by the benefactor or its designated representatives to locations outside of Texas, to locations in sanctuary States.

“I agree to hold the benefactor or its designated representatives harmless of all liability arising out of or in any way relating to any injuries and damages that may occur during the agreed transport to locations outside of Texas until the final destination of Massachusetts.

“The benefactor and designated officials represent that they are not providing transportation made in furtherance of any unlawful entry into the United States.”

In addition, the Spanish translation of the statement requires the migrant to write their nationality. According to the public records, the migrants who signed on Sept. 13, 2022, are from Peru and Venezuela.

García said LULAC is considering filing a class action lawsuit against DeSantis and the State of Florida.

Meanwhile, BCSO has yet to determine what criminal charges the person or persons involved could face.

“I spoke to the Sheriff (Salazar) and the District Attorney of Bexar County on Friday evening. I expressed concerns that it’s time that action be taken,” García said.


League of United Latin American Citizens fights misinformation luring migrants to take flights, busses out of state

Treasury probing Florida Gov. DeSantis’ migrant flights

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.