Democratic lawmakers called on the US Department of Justice to investigate whether Florida and Texas officials violated any federal law when they moved dozens of Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard under alleged false pretenses.
The letter from Congressmen Gerry Connolly, Sylvia Garcia, Ted Lieu and dozens of other Democrats followed the emergence of a report in which a 27-year-old Venezuelan said he was paid $200 by a mysterious figure known as “Perla” to find people outside from the San Antonio migrant center to board a flight.
The migrant, whose name was Emmanuel, told the San Antonio Report who gave Perla contact information for 10 other migrants.
“Because the federal government retains jurisdiction over cases involving interstate travel, we ask the Department of Justice to investigate whether federal funds were used to operate a fraudulent scheme and ask the Department of Justice to determine whether Texas and Florida officials violated federal law,” the letter said.
At least one criminal investigation has already been opened into the situation by a texas sheriffand Connolly and others said the justice department should do the same.
Several media reports have described how asylum seekers had been duped once they arrived in Texas and were incorrectly told they were going to fly to Boston.
“Immigration officials knowingly provided false mailing addresses for migrants are alleged to have arbitrarily selected homeless shelters in the United States, with the expectation that migrants should contact the wrong agency,” the letter says.
Details about the planning and execution of the plan, which was spearheaded by the office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have not yet emerged.
DeSantis has defended his administration’s actions and has denied that the migrants were misled.
Democrats pointed out that the migrants who were used in what they called a political “trick” were fleeing communism, authoritarianism and violence, having walked thousands of miles for what they called a “dignified life.”
Justice Department officials declined to comment.
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