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Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar first launched an investigation into the Martha's Vineyard migrant flights on Sept.19.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar certified Thursday that the 49 migrants who were flown from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard last month by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are victims of a crime, according to a statement.
Salazar also said his office has identified other suspects in the investigation beyond Perla Huerta, the woman accused of luring migrants onto the flights with offers of jobs and shelter.
Rachel Self, a Massachusetts attorney working with the migrants, told Massachusetts Public Radio affiliate WGBH
that Salazar's certification plays a vital role in keeping the migrants in the U.S.
If the asylum seekers are considered victims of a crime, they are likely eligible for a U Visa, which allows them to stay in the country while they wait to testify, Self said.
In early October, investigations by the New York Times
and Express-News identified
a mystery woman who lured the migrants onto the flights bound for Massachusetts as Huerta, a San Antonio native and former Army combat medic. However, her whereabouts remain unknown.
In his statement, Salazar said his office is investigating the matter as a possible case of unlawful restraint, TPR reports
. While the sheriff confirmed that he'd identified suspects in the case beyond Huerta, he declined to reveal them because the inquiry is ongoing.
Although Salazar has certified the transport of the migrants as a crime, Florida's Republican Governor is unlikely to face any charges in Bexar County, according to Salazar. In his statement, the sheriff said he only considers those in the area at the time of the incident to be suspects, according to TPR.
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