Immigration

Florida governor warns his state can’t handle an influx of immigrants from the border

Amid radio silence from the White House, South Florida charities and government agencies continued preparing Friday for as many as 1,000 immigrants each month to be flown in from the southern border

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday the state isn’t prepared to handle vague Trump administration plans to send about 1,000 undocumented immigrants a month from the southern border to South Florida.

“We cannot accommodate in Florida the dumping of unlawful migrants into our state,” DeSantis said during a press conference and bill signing ceremony on the state’s west coast. “I think it will tax our resources, our schools, the healthcare, law enforcement, state agencies.”

DeSantis said he’s “investigated” reports from two South Florida sheriffs that Customs and Border Patrol agents will begin flying hundreds of undocumented immigrants into the region starting around the beginning of June. But the governor’s statements Friday show that, like many of the state’s politicians — some of them President Donald Trump’s close allies — he remains mostly in the dark about the details of a hugely controversial proposal.

“I don’t have enough information about it. As I said, this is not something that came down from the White House, this is something that came out of the agencies,” said DeSantis, who cautioned reporters that the details being relayed by local sheriffs may not be concrete. “It will ultimately be something that I’ll have to talk to the president about.”

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw sounded the alarm about a coming influx of undocumented immigrants after, he says, he spoke to the chief of Customs and Border Protection in Miami earlier in the week. Bradshaw said he was told that about 1,000 immigrants would be flown from the El Paso area every month to Broward and Palm Beach counties.

On Thursday, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder also heard from CBP that immigrants would “possibly” be flown to South Florida, according to a spokeswoman for his office who said that CBP first informed Martin County’s special investigations division during an intelligence briefing. Federal authorities informed the sheriff’s office that immigrants could be flown into Palm Beach International Airport, in which case a number of them would logically make their way to the small and heavily Hispanic Village of Indiantown.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said Thursday in a statement that he heard from Bradshaw about the federal government’s plans, but had not heard yet from any federal officials.

“The composition, according to what we were told, is supposed to be family units,” Palm Beach Sheriff Bradshaw said in his own press conference Thursday. “We don’t know what that means.”

Bradshaw has warned that South Florida doesn’t have the resources to handle an influx of undocumented immigrants, as has Broward County’s mayor. Bradshaw said he was told that the plan was to fly immigrants in from the border, process them through immigrations, give them a notice to appear in court and then set them free into South Florida without accommodations.

“We think it’s a dangerous plan,” said Bradshaw.

However concerned Bradshaw may be about the lack of details in the government’s plan, he appears to have more information than Florida’s governor, or even its congressional delegation.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, after receiving details from Bradshaw, sent a letter to the acting secretary of U.S. Homeland Security on Thursday, asking for basic details and confirmation of what he heard from the Palm Beach County sheriff. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, criticized Thursday the “stunning amount of confusion surrounding the Administration’s outrageous immigration policy.”

“While I’m compelled to point to the President’s mean-spirited, ongoing effort to demonize immigrants and divide our country rather than seriously addressing this issue, I hesitate saying more about these reports because no one in the Administration seems to know what is happening,” Deutch said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott also said through a spokesman Friday that he’s trying to get more information from Homeland Security.

The idea that immigration officials would begin sending undocumented immigrants to South Florida would fit with recent reports that Trump’s administration has pondered sending people from the border to Democratic bastions. South Florida is the bluest area in the state.

But the situation is bizarre given how much time and effort Trump’s team has put into cultivating faith and support in Florida, and DeSantis mentioned Friday that the Legislature just passed a law banning sanctuary cities. He stressed that details may not be accurate or finalized yet, but made clear that he doesn’t yet know whether that’s true.

“The idea that South Florida was selected is something that leaked out. I’m not even sure that’s fully the case. I don’t know,” he said. “I think you’ll just have to ask the folks, whoever contacted law enforcement, however that happened in the agency.”

Miami Herald reporter Monique Madan, el Nuevo Herald reporter Nora Gámez Torres, McClatchy DC reporter Franco Ordoñez and Bradenton Herald reporter Sara Nealeigh contributed to this report.

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