By designating them as crime victims, Texas’s sheriff puts Martha’s Vineyard immigrants on the route to applying for a special visa.

Numerous migrants who were flown last month from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as part of a new initiative 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 this case as potential unlawful restraint based on the allegations that migrants were allegedly taken from Bexar County under false pretenses, Salazar said in a statement. “To ensure that the migrants are available 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 had flown to San Antonio to meet with the sheriff and make arrangements for all 49 migrants 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 may aid law enforcement or government officials in their investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.

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

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. He claimed that the migrants appeared to have been tricked into spending a few days at a motel before being transported to Florida and then Martha’s Vineyard.

No matter what your political views are, these folks are all victims of crime, the speaker stated. The migrants will be able to process and recover from the extraordinarily terrible events they have encountered as a result of the cruel, heartless acts done against them thanks to these certifications, which also ensure that they can continue to assist our law enforcement authorities.

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 be given work authorization; Self warned that the procedure is drawn out but added that the visas “finally potentially 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 aiding migrants in securing their stays in the United States, according to Susan Church, an attorney who has been organizing legal responses to the migrant flights and who is representing two plaintiffs in a lawsuit against DeSantis, Florida, and others.

While their U visa is still ongoing, it is very difficult to try and remove them, according to Church. Ironically, many of these people are now qualified to apply for green cards as a result of this procedure, yet they were sent to a country where it is likely they won’t even be able to leave while their application is being processed.

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