DeSantis’ Unlawful Migrant ‘Victims’ Land Visas

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis | Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A group of unlawful migrants have begun receiving visas after they filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a charter company for allegedly flying them from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in 2022.

This lawsuit was filed by three Venezuelan migrants, identified in the lawsuit as Yanet, Pablo, and Jesus, and the immigrant rights group Alianza Americas, alleging that DeSantis, members of his administration, and the Vertol Systems Company deceived them during a flight to the Massachusetts island, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The flight to Martha’s Vineyard was reportedly a surprise to both the unlawful migrants and the island’s residents, leading U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs to determine that the plaintiffs would be allowed to move forward with the lawsuit.

However, Burroughs determined that multiple defendants, including DeSantis, be removed from the lawsuit due to a lack of jurisdiction.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar began an investigation into the allegations after the lawsuit was filed. He then determined that the “individuals were induced to accept free travel based on false representations,” opting to co-sign a letter recommending U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland conduct a federal criminal and civil investigation, per News 4 San Antonio.

The unlawful migrants who filed the lawsuit then applied for a special visa known as a U visa.

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services states on its website that U visas are “set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.”

Some of the suit’s plaintiffs have now begun receiving “bona fide determinations” for their U visa applications, which allow them to obtain a work permit and avoid deportation until their applications are approved, per The Miami Herald.

It remains unclear how many received the “bona fide determinations” for this lawsuit, but the visa statuses could later be used to help the unlawful migrants remain in the country through a transition into lawful residency.

The flight to Martha’s Vineyard in 2022 at the heart of the lawsuit was similar to the busing program being conducted by Gov. Greg Abbott to help unlawful migrants travel to sanctuary cities across the country.

Abbott said in a recent news release that this program has resulted in over 110,000 unlawful migrants being transported to cities across the country since beginning the trips in April 2022.

The governor previously said that he began this program intending only to ship unlawful migrants to Washington, D.C., yet expanded the range of destinations once hearing complaint from New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

“We were sending them only to Washington, D.C., and quite literally out of nowhere, Mayor Adams starts criticizing me for sending them to New York City,” he said, as previously reported by DX.

“So after a while, I figured, gosh, if I’m gonna get the criticism, I’m gonna get the credit.”

This program has resulted in harsh criticism from Adams, who filed a lawsuit against the 17 charter companies that have been assisting the Lone Star State in the transportation of unlawful migrants, as DX reported.

Per the lawsuit, New York Social Services Law requires that “[a]ny person who knowingly brings, or causes to be brought a needy person from out of state into this state for the purpose of making him a public charge … shall be obligated to convey such person out of state or support him at his own expense.”

New York City is seeking $708 million from the busing companies to help recoup funds spent caring for the unlawful migrants who arrived in the city. Adams proclaimed the lawsuit “should serve as a warning to all those who break the law in this way.”

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