Photo: Ray Ewing / AP
Democratic lawmakers have called on the US Department of Justice to investigate whether Florida and Texas officials violated any federal law when they transferred dozens of Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard on allegedly false pretenses.
The message came from Representatives of Congress Jerry Connolly, Sylvia Garcia, Ted Liu and dozens of other Democrats after a report surfaced in which a 27-year-old Venezuelan said he had received $200 from a mysterious figure known as “Birla” to find people outside the San Antonio immigrant center on board a plane.
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The immigrant, who was called Emmanuel, told the San Antonio Report that he provided Birla’s contact information for 10 other immigrants.
“As the federal government retains jurisdiction over cases involving interstate travel, we are asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether any federal funds were used to operate a fraudulent scheme and we are asking the Department of Justice to make a determination on whether officials in Texas and Florida have broken the law. Federal,” the letter stated.
At least one criminal investigation into the situation has been opened by the mayor of Texas, and Connolly and others said the Department of Justice should do the same.
Multiple media reports depicted how asylum seekers once they arrived in Texas were misled and incorrectly told that they would be flown to Boston.
“Immigration officials allegedly knowingly falsified immigrants’ mailing addresses by choosing arbitrary homeless shelters across the United States, with the expectation that immigrants would be required to contact the wrong agency,” the letter read.
No details have yet emerged about the planning and implementation of the plan, which was led by the office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis defended his administration’s actions and denied that immigrants were misled.
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Democrats pointed out that immigrants used in a so-called political “stunt” were fleeing communism, tyranny and violence, having traveled thousands of miles for what they called a “dignified life.”
Justice Department officials declined to comment.
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