Martha’s Vineyard immigrants in Texas are set on the route to apply for a special visa by the sheriff by designating them as crime victims.

Numerous migrants who were flown last month from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a new program launched by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, now qualify for a special visa thanks to a Texas sheriff’s certification that they were victims of crime.

Javier Salazar, the sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, announced on Thursday that he had submitted the certification paperwork necessary to apply for visas intended for crime victims and witnesses.

We are looking into the possibility of unlawful restraint in this case based on the allegations that migrants were allegedly taken from Bexar County under false pretenses,’ Salazar said in a statement. To secure the migrants’ availability as witnesses during the investigation, “We have submitted documentation through the federal system.”

Five of the migrants are represented by Boston-based attorney Rachel Self, who said she flew to San Antonio to meet with the sheriff and set up for all 49 of them to receive the certifications necessary to start the application process for U-1 nonimmigrant visas, also known as “U visas,” which are only available to victims of specific crimes who have experienced mental or physical abuse and could aid law enforcement or government officials in investigating or prosecuting criminal activity.

Self said in a statement sent via email that she had been collaborating extensively with Salazar and his team “over the previous few weeks” to aid with their investigation, including by conducting interviews and gathering testimony, evidence, and media.

The flights from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard are the subject of a criminal investigation, according to Salazar, a Democratic elected official, who announced this last month. Before being flown to Florida and subsequently Martha’s Vineyard, he claimed the migrants looked to have been “lured under false pretenses” into staying at a hotel for a few days.

Regardless of your political views, these people are all victims of crime, the speaker declared. The migrants will be able to continue assisting our law enforcement officials thanks to these certifications, and they will be able to process and recover from the terribly terrible experiences they have endured as a result of the cruel, heartless atrocities performed against them.

Boston reported Salazar’s certifications‘s WGBH radio earlier on Thursday.

Successful U visa applicants are allowed to remain in the country in nonimmigrant status and receive work authorization; Self warned that the procedure is drawn out but said that the visas ‘finally can lead to Lawful Permanent Residence’.

Department of Homeland Security data reports that at the conclusion of the previous year, more than 285,000 U visa requests were still open.

DeSantis’ action would probably have the unintended consequence of helping migrants secure their stays in the United States, according to Susan Church, an attorney who has been coordinating legal responses to the migrant flights and represents two plaintiffs in a lawsuit against DeSantis, Florida, and others.

While their U visa is still pending, it is very challenging to try to deport them, according to Church. “The irony of DeSantis’ horrible trick that was perpetrated on these people is that many of them are now eligible for a green card through this procedure, and they’ve been flown into a country where they probably can’t even be removed while that application is pending,” said one person.

DeSantis and his team have denied that the new program violates any laws.

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