AUSTIN, Texas - Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar has opened an investigation into the 48 migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard last week.
"Somebody came from out of state, preyed upon these people, lured them with promises of a better life, which is what they were absolutely looking for. And with the knowledge that they were going to cling to whatever hope they could, they could be offered for a better life. It is way too early for me to start naming any suspects. We do have the names of some suspects involved that we believe are persons of interest in this case at this point. But I won't be parting with those names. I think to be fair, I think everybody on this call knows who those names are already," said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
The Venezuelan migrants were flown from San Antonio on Wednesday. An attorney for some migrants said, "they had no idea of where they were going or why."
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' office released a statement saying in part, "the migrants had been willing to leave Texas and are provided many options to succeed in Massachusetts."
Ed Espinosa, president of Progress Texas, and Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party, join FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.
Mike Warren: Ed Espinoza, the federal government has been putting migrants on airplanes and busses, sometimes in the dead of night for a while now. Now, the governors of Texas and Florida are doing the same thing. What's the difference?
Ed Espinoza: Well, there's a key difference here. When the federal government does it, the migrants know where they're going, and they're being delivered to a specific destination with services. What you're seeing here in Texas are people who are luring people in with false promises and dropping them off in the middle of nowhere. By the way, you mentioned Martha's Vineyard. This wasn't the first time this has happened. This stunt has also been done to drop people off in the middle of New York City, in the middle of Chicago. There is a distinct difference between letting someone know where they're going and taking them somewhere versus lying to them and dropping them off in the middle of nowhere, which is what this latest Republican stunt is all about.
Mike Warren: Matt Mackowiak, what do you think of that analysis?
Matt Mackowiak: Yeah. So I don't believe it's accurate that they didn't know where they were going. And I think we're going to learn whether that's true or not. And I think that's important because it's hard for someone to be voluntarily getting on a plane flying somewhere if they don't know where they're going. So if Ed is correct that they didn't know where they were going and if that's absolutely established, that would be important to know. I don't believe that is the case. From what I everything I've read and everything I've learned, they didn't know where they were going. And of course, Chicago, New York, D.C. and Martha's Vineyard all put themselves out there as sanctuary cities, as places that welcome undocumented or illegal immigrants, that they have services available. Martha's Vineyard has significant job openings. And so in this case, I think what most Americans are seeing as they look at this is they're seeing the hypocrisy of many Democratic officials who like to claim they are in support of the immigrant community and past sanctuary cities, resolutions and laws. But then when they're asked to share the burden that Texas and New Mexico and Arizona and Southern California all shoulder, they don't want to have anything to do with it.
Mike Warren: Ed Espinoza, the floor is yours
Ed Espinoza: Well, I think Matt is reframing it as something as if these people are welcoming them. And the thing is that they are welcoming them. But the pretense in which these people are delivered to these areas is flatly wrong. Now, here's another way that Texas could do it. Texas could approach these individuals, which, by the way, there are plenty of news reports of the migrants saying that they had no idea where they were going, and they were given false promises. But here's something that could be done. Governor Abbott could say, look, I don't know how to handle the issue. I am unable to manage the situation or take care of you. I'm going to send you to a place that can if he is able to offer that. That is much different from luring somebody in with the promise of jobs or the promise of services. Just simply say you're unable to do the job and then send them somewhere and send them to a destination, not just the front of Kamala Harris house. It's a political stunt that's just a disservice to not only the migrants, but to the American people to hold ourselves and more in a better light.
Mike Warren: Okay. If it is a political stunt, Matt Mackowiak. Is it effective?
Matt Mackowiak: Well, it's effective in the sense that it has raised the costs of illegal immigration into a national issue in a way now that the mayor of New York, the mayor of D.C., the mayor of Chicago, and I guess if there's a mayor on Martha's Vineyard, they now are starting to understand just a fraction of what South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley is experience on an hourly basis. And so look Ed I would say if municipalities and states want to offer to the governor of Texas that they can receive many of these people, that it's hard for us to handle. I'm sure they would absolutely partner and work with many of those jurisdictions. I don't know that that's happened. And so, again, this is about trying to make other people understand the burden. Illegal immigration places on our education systems, our health, our health care systems, our social services, our small cities, our rural counties. This is what we're dealing with on an hourly basis in south Texas. All you had, I think we're 50 people sent to Martha's Vineyard and you saw them remove those people and send to an Air Force base within 24 hours. So, you know, it shows that they can get serious about illegal immigration once they understand how hard it is.
Mike Warren: All right. I've got to wrap it up, but quick answers from the both of you. Ed Espinoza, how long is this going to go on for?
Ed Espinoza: Well, we already have a sheriff out of Bexar County looking into whether this is human trafficking. And the DHS website defines human trafficking as fraud, coercion and coercion and false promises. So I think that if that kicks in, then you're going to have to see this slow down at some point.
Mike Warren: Okay. Matt Mackowiak, like last word. Human trafficking
Matt Mackowiak: Yeah. I highly doubt that they'll be able to prove this meets that standard. What I do think is interesting is, is that the sheriff was unable to point to a single law that was broken when he was asked about this yesterday. Obviously, they're going to have an investigation. We'll see where it leads. But I suspect strongly that the governor of Florida did everything right way here.
Mike Warren: Okay. Well, we got to wrap it up for now and for now, these flights and bus trips go on. Ed Espinoza, Matt Mackowiak, thank you both very much.