Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, who opened a criminal investigation this week into migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard, said Tuesday that the solution to the ongoing migrant crisis is to open up more legal pathways for people to come to the United States.
"At some point, you’re going to have to embrace that this is happening to a certain extent. I would say, look, you’ve got people who want to work… and you've got a shortage of workers," he told CNN on Tuesday.
"Hire these folks. Give them the opportunity to work legally, and then make sure that the employers that are employing them are doing it the right way and paying them correctly. And then here’s the catch: tax them on it."
Salazar, a Democrat, said that some migrants should be denied if the vetting process determines that they have a "criminal" or "terrorist" background.
"But people who just want to do a hard day’s work for a hard day’s pay – bring them on in and let’s put them to work," he told CNN. He noted that migrants could be hired to reduce restaurant wait times in San Antonio, Texas, the seat of Bexar County and a major tourist destination due to the Alamo and the Riverwalk.
Migrant encounters at the southern border have reached record levels, with over two million so far this fiscal year, including 203,598 encounters just last month.
Border Patrol has apprehended 78 individuals whose names are on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database in fiscal year 2022, which is triple the past five years combined.
Salazar opened a criminal investigation this week into two flights of 48 migrants who he says were "lured" from the Migrant Resource Center in San Antonio and boarded a plane to Martha's Vineyard "under false pretenses."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose administration organized the flights, denied that the migrants were promised jobs and said that they were given "multiple" opportunities to decline the trip.
Democrats have harshly criticized last week's flights and the bussing of thousands of migrants by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., echoed Salazar's comments on Tuesday, saying that if "we have legal processes, people would use those legal processes."
"We have continued to increase money at the border, but we haven’t done it by also fixing the legal immigration system and providing people the opportunity and ways to come here legally," Jayapal told CNN.
DeSantis dismissed the criticism on Tuesday, saying that Florida just "offered transport to sanctuary jurisdictions."
"I haven't heard a peep about all the people that have been told by Biden [migrants] can just come in — and they're going, they're being abused by the cartels. They're drowning in the Rio Grande. You had 50 that died in some shed in Texas. I heard no outrage about any of that," DeSantis said.