A Texas sheriff’s office has recommended criminal charges over flights that the Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, arranged to deport 49 South American migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., last year. The Bexar County, Sheriff’s office said it had filed a criminal case with the local district attorney. Sheriff Javier Salazar has previously said the migrants were “lured under false pretenses” into traveling to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy liberal town, the Guardian reports. The recommendation comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened DeSantis with kidnapping charges on Monday, after Florida flew a group of people seeking asylum to Sacramento. It was the second time in four days Florida had used taxpayer money to fly asylum seekers to California.
In the Texas case, the charge filed is unlawful restraint and several counts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony,” the Bexar County sheriff’s office said. DeSantis arranged for two planes to carry migrants, including women and children, to Martha’s Vineyard in September 2022. The groups were told they would have jobs and housing if they boarded the planes, but in reality officials in Martha’s Vineyard had been given no advance notice of the arrival of the 49 people, most of whom had traveled from Venezuela. DeSantis created an “urgent humanitarian situation” by deporting the migrants, officials said. DeSantis, who is running for president, was widely criticized for what was seen as a political stunt. On Monday, Newsom called DeSantis a “small, pathetic man” after Florida chartered a private jet and flew 16 South Americans to Sacramento before abandoning them outside a church.