The political and legal fallout is still being felt after the transportation of 50 people, most of them migrants from Venezuela, to Martha's Vineyard last week. Critics call it a political stunt by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who flew them there. In the latest development, Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, Texas, says he's investigating whether migrants were illegally lured into taking the trip. GBH News legal analyst and Northeastern law professor Daniel Medwed joined GBH Morning Edition hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel to talk about the laws at play. This transcript has been lightly edited.

Paris Alston: We have a lot to pass through with everything that is going on as a result of the migrants who arrived on Martha's Vineyard last week. So, first of all, if DeSantis's move to fly them there were to have legal implications, would it be a matter of federal law or state law? Because I assume if a sheriff in Texas is investigating, this would be a violation of state or local law.

Daniel Medwed: I think both, Paris, and here's why. So on the one hand, and we've talked about this on the show before, most crimes are state crimes. Your average murder, robbery, assault — that's prosecuted by state lawyers from county district attorney's offices in state court. And here, there could be potential state crimes in at least three locales: In Florida, where the plan was hatched and the government funds were withdrawn; in Texas, where the migrants were duped into boarding those planes; and of course, in Massachusetts, where they landed.

In Florida, I'm not sure whether they have the stomach to go after DeSantis. I'm not quite sure about the political landscape in the Sunshine State. But as you both noted at the top, in Texas, at least in Bexar County, there are the seeds of a criminal investigation. So Texas might do something. And I imagine Massachusetts officials will not be timid or shy in pursuing a similar investigative path. On the other hand, when activity involves interstate travel or what constitutional law scholars refer to as interstate commerce, such as a flight across multiple state lines, that often gives the federal government jurisdiction.

And we're very fortunate, I think, that our U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts, Rachael Rollins, is fearless. She's not afraid to look at very powerful people. So I think both state and federal actors might be looking into charges here.

Jeremy Siegel: So regardless of how it ends up, state or federal, regardless of the jurisdictional issue, what do you think about the possibility of criminal charges or civil charges here? Who would face them?

Medwed: Jeremy, that's really interesting. I think both charges are a possibility. In terms of who would face the music, I think it depends on who within DeSantis's orbit was involved with this and played an active role. But first, let's look at criminal charges. I think, just thinking out loud here, the most viable charge might be the crime of kidnaping. So I took a look at the federal code. It's Title 18 of U.S. Code Section 1201, and it defines kidnaping as "anyone who unlawfully seizes confines, decoys, kidnaps, abducts or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person."

Now, that's a mouthful, but let's deconstruct it. So at a minimum, it seems like DeSantis and his allies lured or tricked these migrants into boarding that plane. That would seem to fall within the ambit of decoys. That's an odd usage in this law. We usually use the word decoy as a noun, right? But it can be used as a verb. It feels a little off-putting. In addition, note that the statute refers to a person. It doesn't use the phrase citizen or resident of the United States or anything like that, suggesting that it has a pretty broad scope. So in theory, kidnaping could apply.

"It seems like DeSantis and his allies lured or tricked these migrants into boarding that plane. That would seem to fall within the ambit of decoys."
-Daniel Medwed, GBH News legal analyst

Other observers are also talking about federal criminal human trafficking or smuggling charges. I think those might be a bit of a stretch because they typically require that the action is done in order to violate another law. And I'm not quite sure what that downstream law would be here. But those seem to be some of the criminal options in play.

Alston: I know State Representative Dylan Fernandes, who represents Martha's Vineyard, is one of the people who's been calling for a human trafficking investigation there. So that's interesting to know. What about civil actions? Could the people harmed here sue DeSantis or anyone else for monetary damages?

Medwed: I think so, at least in theory. So for one thing, there's a personal injury action. It's an intentional tort, it's known as false imprisonment. And that's when you intentionally restrict the freedom, the liberty of someone, without legal authority. So that could be a possibility here. For another thing, there's also the personal injury action known as civil fraud. States have different rules on this, but I took a look last night at the Texas law, which is pretty interesting. To be found liable for civil fraud in Texas, you have to make a material representation that was false. So there's a pretty good argument that DeSantis and his cronies made false representations here. Second, that in making those representations, they knew it was false. There is good reason to think that they knew that it was a falsehood. Third, that it was intended to induce people to rely on that false promise.

And finally, the people actually relied on it to their detriment. They were injured. So here I could imagine that migrants would claim that based on statements and brochures that were evidently handed out to them in San Antonio, they relied on false representations to get on those planes, and at least some of them were injured. Right. As happy as maybe a couple are to be in Martha's Vineyard, many of them jeopardized their appearance at looming immigration hearings out west. So that could be an injury. In practice, though, it might be a little harder, of course, to sue DeSantis or anybody in his orbit, because they're going to claim that they had legal authority to do this, that they used Florida funds that were earmarked to deal with illegal immigration for this purpose.