State Watch

DeSantis activates National Guard in response to hundreds of migrants arriving in Florida Keys

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has activated the state National Guard to provide support to local officials in response to the arrival of hundreds of migrants in the Florida Keys.

He signed an executive order on Friday to mobilize the Guard and direct Florida law enforcement agencies and other agencies to supply resources to local governments as they respond to the migrant landings.

“As the negative impacts of [President] 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 release. 

“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,” he continued. 

The move comes nearly a week after local officials reported that at least 500 migrants arrived in the Florida Keys over New Year’s weekend. Roughly 300 of that number landed on islands within Dry Tortugas National Park, prompting its temporary closure. DeSantis’s office said in the release announcing the executive order that law enforcement has encountered more than 8,000 migrants off the Florida coast since August.

The release states that it has been “particularly burdensome” for the sheriff’s office in Monroe County, which is located in the Florida Keys, to provide the necessary resources to manage the hundreds of newly arrived migrants and ensure public safety. 

The state will deploy airplanes and helicopters from the Florida National Guard and reinforce marine patrols from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to support efforts to intercept the migrants and ensure their safety. 

The release states that Florida has a “long history” of helping refugees, particularly Cubans and others fleeing communist regimes, find assistance in the United States but that it has always included support from the federal government. 

DeSantis has made national headlines and garnered criticism from Democrats for his handling of migrants coming into Florida, as he has sent a number of them on airplanes and buses to northern, Democratic-run “sanctuary” cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) have taken similar steps. 

The governors have said they are sending the migrants to places with more resources to support them, but opponents have called their actions political stunts, saying they have not given the cities any advance notice of the migrants’ arrival. 

Biden announced new steps on Wednesday to address the situation at the U.S. southern border as a growing number of Venezuelan migrants make their way to the country through Mexico. He said migrants should not “just show up” at the border and should instead apply for entry from where they are.

Biden also said the U.S. will expand its parole program for those from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti. 

Data from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol showed that 2.76 million migrants were encountered by authorities while crossing the border illegally last fiscal year, which is a record.

Tags asylum seekers Biden Florida Florida Keys Migrant busing migrants National Guard Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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