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DeSantis touts Texas cooperation after officials recommend fee for migrant flights

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released a statement on Tuesday touting his state’s record of assisting Texas immigration authorities, including more than 190 arrests, a day after enforcement officials Texas laws have recommended criminal charges for the governor-organized migrant robberies.

On Monday, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office recommended a criminal case with the local district attorney on migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard in September 2022. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office alleged that an illegal restraint was involved in the migrant thefts. Officials said they were examining how migrants “were attracted from the Migrant Resource Center, located in Bexar County, TX, and flown to Florida, where they were ultimately left on their own at Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

On Tuesday, DeSantis released a statement saying “Teams in Florida made contact with more than 5,800 undocumented migrants and assisted the Texas Department of Public Safety with more than 190 arrests, including felony trafficking charges. of human beings, drug paraphernalia, illegal possession of weapons and a suspect with a capital murder warrant.”

The statement appeared to be a response to the announcement from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

Forty-nine migrants were transported at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in September 2022, with some claiming to have suffered emotional trauma as a result. At the time, DeSantis’ communications director said the thefts were part of an effort to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”

DeSantis, a presidential candidate and fierce critic of President Biden’s immigration policies, signed a bill in May allocating 12 million dollars for the transport of migrants.

Under Texas law, a person can be charged with unlawful restraint if he “restrains the movements of a person without his consent, so as to substantially interfere with the liberty of the person, by moving him from one place to another or by confining it”. Coercion is considered without consent if it is accomplished by force, intimidation or deception.

It is not yet known if Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Joe D. Gonzales will pursue the charges or against whom they will be filed, but he said his office is reviewing the case thoroughly.

“If a review of the facts reveals that a criminal offense has been committed, we will present that case to a grand jury for deliberation,” Gonzales said.

California officials are also investigating possible criminal charges after two charter planes full of migrants landed in Sacramento for the past few days, a Friday and a second Monday.

In both cases, a spokesman for California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the migrants were carrying “documents indicating that their transportation to California involved the state of Florida.” After the first flight landed in Sacramento, Bonta said his office was reviewing possibility of criminal or civil proceedings against those who transported the migrants or organized their transport. Bonta said evidence was being collected. He called the thefts a “state-sanctioned kidnapping.”

A Florida Division of Emergency Management official stressed Tuesday that the state’s resettlement program is voluntary. The spokesperson said there was verbal and written consent that the migrants wanted to go to California.

“From the left-leaning mayors of El Paso, Texas, and Denver, Colorado, the relocation of those who cross the US border illegally is nothing new,” the spokesperson said. “But suddenly when Florida sends illegal aliens to a sanctuary city, it’s fake imprisonment and kidnapping.”

CBS News reached out to DeSantis regarding the Bexar County case. He was sued for the Martha’s Vineyard incident, but a federal judge dismissed the case.


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