Who Is Perla, the Woman Allegedly Behind the Migrant Flight Scandal?

By greatbritton

afael Eduardo (left) an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela hugs another immigrant outside of the Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, on Marthas Vineyard.

Photo: Dominic Chavez for The Washington Post (Getty Images)

We may finally know the identity of the mysterious “Perla” who, Venezuelan asylum seekers told news outlets, lured them in with promises of opportunities, only to trick them into flying to Martha’s Vineyard.

For weeks, reports have flooded in from the dozens of Venezuelan asylum seekers who say they were tricked into boarding flights from San Antonio, Texas to Massachusetts as a part of a program spearheaded by Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. And while DeSantis obviously bears a lot of responsibility here, it’s clear he had help.

Enter “Perla,” a shadowy figure who, migrants told the New York Times, offered them a free flight, free food, and a free place to stay at the LaQuinta hotel only for them to find out everything wasn’t as it seemed.

On Sunday, the New York Times identified “Perla,” who only ever gave migrants her first-name, as Perla Huerta, a former combat medic and counterintelligence agent who was discharged from the US Army in August.

According to The New York Times, a person familiar with the sheriffs’ investigation into the flight scandal first identified Huerta as a part of that investigation. The New York Times says it later confirmed her identity with a migrant who says Huerta “had unsuccessfully sought to” sign her up for the “free flight” program.

According to the New York Times, her instincts were right. Migrants who took Huerta up on her offer to stay at LaQuinta were handed an “apparently fake” refugee brochure reportedly riddled with inaccuracies, according to the Times.

For starters the Massachusetts “flag” tucked under the words “Massachusetts Welcomes You,” on the brochure was inaccurate. And so-called refugee benefits offered in the pamphlet didn’t apply to the Venezuelan asylum seekers in San Antonio, according to The New York Times.

Upon their arrival in Martha’s Vineyard, things continued to fall apart. Accounts from another migrant, identified as Jose, who spoke to the Washington Post, illustrates the absolute chaos among the migrants upon realizing they’d been tricked.

“People wanted to run away,” Jose told the Washington Post. However once they had a moment to look at the map, they realized “we were surrounded by pure water.”

As awful as these accounts are, the New York Times story is likely just the beginning in our emerging understanding of what happened and who’s responsible for the dozens of migrants left stranded in Massachusetts.

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