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HomeNewsTexas sheriff puts Martha’s Vineyard migrants on path to apply for special...

Texas sheriff puts Martha’s Vineyard migrants on path to apply for special visa by declaring them crime victims

A Texas sheriff has licensed that dozens of migrants who had been flown from Texas to Martha’s Winery, Massachusetts, final month beneath a brand new program by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had been crime victims, boosting their eligibility for a particular visa.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar mentioned Thursday he had filed certification types that immigration attorneys say can be utilized to acquire visas reserved for crime victims or individuals who witness sure crimes.

“Based mostly upon the claims of migrants being transported from Bexar County beneath false pretenses, we’re investigating this case as potential Illegal Restraint,” Salazar mentioned in an announcement. “We now have submitted documentation via the federal system to make sure the migrants’ availability as witnesses throughout the investigation.”

Rachel Self, a Boston-based lawyer who represents 5 of the migrants, mentioned she had flown to San Antonio to fulfill with the sheriff and organize for all 49 migrants to obtain the certifications required to start an software course of for U-1 nonimmigrant visas, or “U visas,” that are reserved for victims of sure crimes who’ve suffered psychological or bodily abuse and will assist legislation enforcement or authorities officers examine or prosecute felony exercise.

In an emailed assertion, Self mentioned she has been working carefully with Salazar and his division “over the previous few weeks” to help them of their investigation, together with via conducting interviews and accumulating accounts, pictures and movies.

Salazar, an elected Democrat, mentioned final month that his workplace had opened a felony investigation into the flights from Texas to Martha’s Winery. He mentioned the migrants appeared to have been “lured beneath false pretenses” into staying at a lodge for a few days earlier than they had been flown to Florida after which to Martha’s Winery.

Self mentioned: “It doesn’t matter what your political views are, these persons are all crime victims. These certifications will be sure that the migrants can proceed to assist our legislation enforcement officers, and that they are going to have the ability to course of and heal from the extremely traumatic experiences they’ve suffered on account of the merciless, heartless acts dedicated in opposition to them.”

WGBH radio of Boston reported Salazar’s certifications earlier Thursday.

Profitable U visa candidates are permitted to stay within the U.S. in nonimmigrant standing and acquire work authorization, and the visas “finally can result in Lawful Everlasting Residence,” Self mentioned, cautioning that the method is prolonged.

Greater than 285,000 U visa petitions had been pending on the finish of final 12 months, in accordance with Division of Homeland Safety knowledge.

Susan Church, an lawyer who has been coordinating authorized responses to the migrant flights and represents two plaintiffs in a lawsuit in opposition to DeSantis, Florida and others, mentioned DeSantis’ motion would doubtless have the unintended consequence of serving to migrants safe their stays within the U.S.

“It’s very tough to aim to take away them whereas their U visa is pending,” Church mentioned. “The irony of DeSantis’ merciless trick that was performed on these people is just not solely are a lot of them now eligible for a inexperienced card via this course of, however they’ve been shipped right into a jurisdiction the place they in all probability cannot even be eliminated whereas that software is pending.”

DeSantis and his administration have denied breaking any legal guidelines with the brand new program.

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