The nearly 50 migrants from Venezuela who recently traveled from the United States-Mexico border to the Massachusetts beach community of Martha's Vineyard — a move proffered by Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida — could be on the path to American citizenship.
According to reports, the Bexar County (Texas) Sheriff's Office has agreed to certify that the Martha's Vineyard migrants sufficiently cooperated with the department's investigation and are now eligible to apply for U visas — a U.S. non-immigrant visa for victims of criminal activity who have suffered mental and physical abuse.
The U visas require the signature of law enforcement officers before being sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Two core reasons for the U visas are to protect victims of crimes who are not U.S. citizens and to gather information regarding crimes.
According to Politico, Rachel Self, a Martha's Vineyard-based attorney who has been coordinating the migrants' immigration cases, said she flew to San Antonio to obtain the required signatures from the Bexar sheriff's office.
On Sept. 20, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, announced his office had launched a criminal investigation into the flights orchestrated by DeSantis, which Salazar reasoned were conducted under "false pretenses."
The qualifying criminal acts for the U visa can include kidnapping, false imprisonment and fraud in foreign-labor contracting. At this time, however, it's unknown which of the three crimes allegedly were committed by DeSantis or Abbott.
The DeSantis camp maintains there was no wrongdoing in the migrant transfer from Florida to Massachusetts.
Last month, DeSantis said the flights to Martha's Vineyard, which has "sanctuary" city status, gave the migrants "an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them."
According to Self's statement, Salazar's office and the organized crime division have already been provided with witness accounts, photos and videos to assist in the investigation.
"No matter what your political beliefs are, these people are all crime victims," wrote Self.
Also, the Treasury Department's inspector general is reportedly looking into whether DeSantis improperly used money connected to federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for the flights.
According to Department of Homeland Security data, more than 285,000 U visa petitions were still pending as of fiscal year 2021, and Congress has capped the visas at 10,000 per year.
Upon approval, the migrants reportedly must wait three years to apply for a green card and five more years for citizenship.
On Thursday, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., was asked on Newsmax about the Venezuelans' path-to-citizenship plan.
"The bottom line is this: We have no control of the border; the cartels control the border," said Biggs, while appearing on "American Agenda" with hosts Bob Sellers and Katrina Szish. "And [President Joe] Biden does not have the authority to give the Venezuelans special passes to get into" America.
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