Bexar County sheriff, California officials ask DOJ to investigate migrant flights

Sheriff Javier Salazar says ‘political theater has placed people in danger’

SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Department of Justice is facing calls to investigate the shipping of migrants from Texas to Massachusetts and California.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Attorney General Rob Bonta wrote a letter to DOJ Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Thursday, saying the migrants were lured in the “scheme” under false pretenses.

In one flight out of San Antonio last September, 49 migrants were flown to Martha’s Vineyard. They were convinced to board the plane by a woman known only as “Perla,” who offered them jobs, housing and education, Salazar previously said.

Last month, two groups of migrants were reportedly transported from El Paso to Sacramento, California, under the understanding that they will receive jobs, housing and other services, the letter states.

Each of the flights was reportedly paid for by the state of Florida.

“It is not uncommon for local jurisdictions and nongovernmental organizations to facilitate onward travel from the border for people to connect with family or friends elsewhere in the United States after they are processed and released by federal immigration officials and are pursuing their immigration cases as required by the law,” the letter states. “But this scheme is different: according to news reports, recruiters deceived migrants into taking flights to these particular locations based on promises of jobs and shelter.”

BCSO has since launched an investigation and filed a criminal case with the Bexar County District Attorney.

Salazar also met with Newsom at the Major County Sheriffs of America Conference last month to discuss the investigations into the migrant flights.

“This political theater has placed people in danger, and my hope is that the DOJ gets involved to send a clear message—causing human suffering is not a game,” Salazar said in an emailed statement on Friday.

You can read the full letter below:

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About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.