Early on Sept. 14, 2022, dozens of newly arrived migrants lined up on a tarmac in San Antonio, Texas, and were led onto private jets with no explicit destination.
Their arrival on Martha’s Vineyard hours later came as a surprise not only to the island’s residents — who had no prior warning — but also to the migrants themselves, some of whom would later say they were lured onto the planes with deceptive promises of help.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis soon took credit for the flights, claiming they were part of the state’s relocation program “to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations.”
Little more than a year later, only a few of the migrants still remain on Martha’s Vineyard, according to a CBS “60 Minutes” report, which revealed new details about the flights and their aftermath.
Daniel Cauro, 30, arrived in the U.S. following a months-long journey from Venezuela with his sister Deici and two cousins, according to the “60 Minutes” segment. They requested asylum and had been lawfully permitted to enter the U.S. when, Cauro said, two women approached the tired and hungry migrants outside a resource center and offered to help.
“She was saying, ‘We want to send you to a state where there are not so many migrants, and you’re going to have a lot of help, because you’re going to have housing and all that,’” Cauro recalled.
He and his sister both told “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi that Massachusetts never came up during that conversation. Today, only Cauro, his sister, and their cousins remain on Martha’s Vineyard out of the initial group of nearly 50 migrants.
The flights sparked immediate outrage on Martha’s Vineyard and around the U.S., with islanders and Massachusetts leaders mobilizing to provide temporary housing and resources. Citing public records, “60 Minutes” reported that the political stunt ultimately cost Florida more than $600,000, or about $12,000 per migrant.
The migrants all had permission to be in the U.S. pending asylum hearings, according to “60 Minutes.”
Rachel Self, a criminal defense and immigration lawyer who lives on the nearby island of Chappaquiddick, told the news program that the stunt also “provided [the migrants] a completely independent available path to legalize their status here,” citing the U visa, which sets asides visas for certain “victims of criminal activity.”
Meanwhile, “60 Minutes” reported that no one in the Florida governor’s office has been charged with any crimes in connection with the flights, though Javier Salazar, sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, recommended felony and misdemeanor criminal charges for two unnamed recruiters in June. The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office is reportedly reviewing Salazar’s recommendation.
Watch the “60 Minutes” clip on the Martha’s Vineyard migrants below:
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