An internal investigation by the Bexar County Sheriff‘s Office in Texas has recommended that criminal charges be filed against those responsible for transporting 49 asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on instructions from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R).
The report, which was released Thursday, recommends both felony and misdemeanor charges of unlawful restraint. The Bexar County District Attorney‘s Office is now handling the case.
“At this time, the case is being reviewed by the DA’s office,” said Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Johnny Garcia. “We’re not naming the suspect at this time or the amount of charges that are being filed.”
The asylum seekers were originally from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico. They had been staying in a detention facility in Texas for months before they were loaded onto a charter flight to Martha’s Vineyard on September 19, 2020.
The incident drew widespread criticism as it seemed to validate reports that DeSantis had been directing migrants to Democratic cities. In a press briefing released days later, the governor defended his decision, claiming he was attempting to deter migrants from coming to Florida.
Meanwhile, California officials accused the same company of flying migrants from the Texas border to Sacramento for a second time in four days. The flight, they say, was facilitated with taxpayer funds.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the migrants were misled about the reason for the flight, claiming they were told they were being taken somewhere to find jobs. “We’ve learned that many of them were told that Vertol Systems would help them find jobs if they got on the plane and traveled to where there were being taken,” Bonta said.
The sheriff’s recommendation follows the trend in Bexar County to break away from the GOP–led state. Last year, the Bexar district attorney declined to act upon a Texas Attorney General‘s opinion that gender–affirming treatments for children constituted child abuse.
California Governor Gavin Newsom also responded to the incident, taking to Twitter to call DeSantis a “small, pathetic man.” In his post, he included a screenshot and link to the California law regarding the wordage surrounding kidnapping.
The case is currently being reviewed by the district attorney‘s office, and it remains unclear who will be charged or what specific charges will be filed. The Bexar County Sheriff‘s Office will release an update once the review has been completed.