TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis has activated the Florida National Guard and other state law enforcement agencies in response to what officials call an “alarming influx of migrants” coming to the Florida Keys.
Since the start of the year, hundreds of migrants have flowed into the Sunshine State, mainly from Cuba according to reports by the Associated Press. The AP put the number as high as 700 since the New Year’s weekend. 337 of the migrants came to shore at Dry Tortugas National Park.
In response, and ahead of a trial over immigration issues set to start in Penascola on Monday, DeSantis signed an executive order to have state agents respond to the migrants coming into Florida and provide “additional support toward efforts to prevent further migrant landings” in the state.
“As the negative impacts of Biden’s lawless immigration policies continue unabated, the burden of the Biden administration’s failure falls on local law enforcement who lack the resources to deal with the crisis,” DeSantis said in a statement accompanying the executive order’s announcement. “That is why I am activating the National Guard and directing state resources to help alleviate the strain on local resources. When Biden continues to ignore his legal responsibilities, we will step in to support our communities.”
According to the governor’s office, Florida “will deploy air assets, including airplanes and helicopters from the Florida National Guard, and will bolster Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine patrol” to give more resources for water interdictions and make sure migrants entering through the Florida Straits arrive safely.
However, the governor’s announcement also called the federal response to immigration “inept” and said it “failed to provide the resources necessary to respond to the current mass migration event.” Instead, officials say the burden of response falls on local law enforcement, such as the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which the state says has only 194 deputies.
The executive order itself comes just days away from a federal trial pitting Florida against the White House as the culmination of a suit filed in 2021. A release from the office of Attorney General Ashley Moody Thursday said the state would be taking Biden’s administration to court over what they call unlawful immigration policies.
While the state accuses the federal government of illegal policies, similar accusations have been leveled against the DeSantis administration as well, regarding a relocation program of migrants which took nearly 50 individuals from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. in September through two planes and part of $12 million set aside in Florida’s budget.
With hundreds of migrants now in Florida without legal authorization, WFLA.com has reached out to the governor’s office about the potential relocation of the new “influx” using the relocation program approved by the legislature, as well as if the arrival of the migrants would have an impact on Monday’s trial start. President Joe Biden will be visiting the Texas border Sunday. He spoke on border security Thursday.