A leading Latino advocacy group is stepping up its efforts to find a woman — identified by the news media this week — who allegedly lured a group of migrants onto a plane flying from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last month.
The League of United Latin American Citizens on Wednesday doubled to $10,000 a reward it is offering for information that leads to locating, arresting and prosecuting 43-year-old Perla Haydee Huerta, who was identified Sunday in a New York Times report. Authorities have not publicly identified her as a suspect or person of interest in any criminal investigation.
At least two private planes left San Antonio last month, one of them with as many as 48 migrants who had been told they were getting a trip to Boston, where jobs and shelter awaited them. Instead, the group arrived at Martha’s Vineyard, an island south of Cape Cod, where the group’s arrival surprised local officials and residents.
The flights were arranged by the state of Florida as part of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $12 million program to relocate migrants to a “sanctuary destination.”
Numerous migrants, in recounting their experiences, described a tall, blonde woman going by the name Perla who pitched them on the trip.
The flights intensified the trend among Republican governors, including Gov. Greg Abbott, of sending migrants seeking better lives in their states to areas led by Democrats.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar launched an investigation into DeSantis’ flying of the 48 migrants to New England, calling the flights “an abuse of human rights.” No charges have been filed against anyone.
LULAC initially offered $5,000 for information about the mysterious woman. On Wednesday, LULAC officials said they were raising the reward in an effort to get the woman to answer questions under oath.
“We were able to identify her through a photograph on her Facebook page, and then the refugees in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, also confirmed that was the person who approached them and made them promise of three months’ paid work and free housing, free food and free resources — that were all false,” said LULAC’s national president, Domingo Garcia. “Now we are focusing, now that we know who she is, on trying to find her.”
LULAC intended to file a complaint with the Justice Department to look into whether the woman’s and DeSantis’ actions constitute crimes under immigration code, Garcia said.
“The old signs used to say, ‘Wanted dead or alive.’ We want her alive,” Garcia said. “And we want her to testify. Who paid, and why did they engage in such predatory behavior?”
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/10/05/perla-marthas-vineyard-san-antonio/.
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