Migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 are receiving visas reserved for people who help with criminal investigation

Some of the migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have received work permits thanks to a visa reserved for crime victims, sparking outrage by some.

Migrants who cooperated with the sheriff were able to apply for U-nonimmigrant status and three of them have since received ‘bona fide determinations’ this week, immigration attorney Rachel M. Self told The Boston Globe.

The three Venezuelan migrants are now allowed to work legally in the country and are protected from deportation. 

DeSantis, who was considering a presidential run at the time, arranged for 49 migrants to be flown out to the wealthy island off Massachusetts, in 2022.

The migrants were sent from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard and said they were promised work and housing opportunities. That prompted the Bexar County sheriff to open a criminal investigation.

Migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 are receiving visas reserved for people who help with criminal investigation

Migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 are receiving visas reserved for people who help with criminal investigation

The migrants they were promised work and housing opportunities which prompted the Bexar County sheriff to open a criminal investigation

The migrants they were promised work and housing opportunities which prompted the Bexar County sheriff to open a criminal investigation

Jessica Vaughan, the director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, was one of the social media users who criticized the judge’s decision.

She wrote: ‘This is absolutely an abuse of the U visa for political purposes. But reality will strike – the waiting list is 300,000 deep (mostly other frivolous cases), so they’re not going to be adjudicated for many years.’

The U-nonimmigrant status, known as U-visa, is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Migrants granted a U-visa are eligible to work in the United States, then can apply for a Green Card after having a U-visa for three years.

The U-nonimmigrant status, known as U-visa, is set aside for victims of crimes who help with police investigations

The U-nonimmigrant status, known as U-visa, is set aside for victims of crimes who help with police investigations

There is a 10,000 limit on the number of U-visas issued each year and there are thousands of applicants on a waiting list.

‘This is a harm reduction provision,’ Hemanth C. Gundavaram, cofounder and director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at Northeastern University School of Law, told The Globe.

‘If you didn’t have these protections, someone would have to stay here, worry about deportation, and not be able to make a living.’

The Martha’s Vineyard migrants were eligible to apply for U-visas after Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, certified they were victims of a crime, reported The Miami Herald.

In June, Salazar recommended that the district attorney in Bexar County bring criminal charges for deception tactics, however no charges have been filed. 

Three of the migrants received 'bona fide determinations' this week after Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, certified that they were victims of a crime

Three of the migrants received ‘bona fide determinations’ this week after Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, certified that they were victims of a crime

‘The Bexar County DA’s inaction in this matter is concerning and cannot be understated,’ Self told The Herald. 

‘Anyone who knows all of the facts, anyone who has seen all of the evidence, simply cannot ignore the crimes that were perpetrated in this case.’

On April 1, DeSantis was dismissed from a class action lawsuit filed by the migrants that alleged the governor ‘designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting [the migrants] for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.’

The U.S. District Court of Massachusetts said in its ruling that it does not have jurisdiction over DeSantis in this case.

While DeSantis was dropped, the migrants can still sue Florida-based Vertol Systems Co., the charter flight company that transported them to the island off the Massachusetts coast.

The court found the facts of the case ‘taken together, support an inference that Vertol and the other Defendants specifically targeted Plaintiffs because they were Latinx immigrants.’

The DeSantis administration noted the judges’ order dismissed the state defendants.

On April 1, DeSantis was dismissed from a class action lawsuit filed by the migrants

On April 1, DeSantis was dismissed from a class action lawsuit filed by the migrants

The migrants can still sue Florida-based Vertol Systems Co., the charter flight company that transported them to the island

The migrants can still sue Florida-based Vertol Systems Co., the charter flight company that transported them to the island

‘As we’ve always stated, the flights were conducted lawfully and authorized by the Florida Legislature,’ Julia Friedland, the deputy press secretary for DeSantis, said in a statement.

‘We look forward to Florida’s next illegal immigrant relocation flight, and we are glad to bring national attention to the crisis at the southern border.’

The court also said that ‘unlike ICE agents legitimately enforcing the country´s immigration laws… the Court sees no legitimate purpose for rounding up highly vulnerable individuals on false pretenses and publicly injecting them into a divisive national debate.’

The Florida governor threatened to send Haitian migrants to leafy Democrat enclaves in the north such as Martha’s Vineyard as gang warfare engulfs the embattled Caribbean nation in March.

‘Haitians land in the Florida Keys, their next stop very well may be Martha’s Vineyard,’ DeSantis told podcaster Dana Loesch.

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