DeSantis bolsters state forces to combat potential Haitian migrant influx

Florida governor deploys over 250 officers, air and maritime assets to guard against illegal immigration

DeSantis bolsters state forces to combat potential Haitian migrant influx
Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP
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In anticipation of a potential surge in illegal immigration from Haiti, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered the deployment of additional state law enforcement personnel and resources to the state's southern borders and coastal waters.

"For quite some time, the State of Florida has been dedicating significant resources to combat illegal vessels coming to Florida from countries such as Haiti," DeSantis said in a press release. "Given the circumstances in Haiti, I have directed the Division of Emergency Management, the Florida State Guard, and state law enforcement agencies to deploy over 250 additional officers and soldiers and over a dozen air and sea craft to the southern coast of Florida to protect our state."

The Republican governor emphasized Florida's efforts to supplement what he characterized as the federal government's "under-resourced" interdiction operations, stating, "No state has done more to supplement the (under-resourced) U.S. Coast Guard’s interdiction efforts; we cannot have illegal aliens coming to Florida.”

DeSantis' directive will see reinforcements dispatched from multiple agencies:

  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement: 39 additional officers
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: 23 officers, 8 sea vessels
  • Florida National Guard: 48 guardsmen, 4 helicopters
  • Florida Highway Patrol: 30 officers, aircraft, drones

Additionally, the governor authorized the deployment of 133 soldiers from the Florida State Guard to the Florida Keys to assist in the operation, dubbed "Vigilant Sentry."

"Illegal immigrants feel empowered to enter the sovereign territory of the United States because of the federal government's refusal to diligently enforce our immigration laws and protect the integrity of the border," DeSantis' office stated. "When a state faces the possibility of invasion, it has the right and duty to defend its territory and people. Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida will act."

The heightened security measures come as political upheaval and gang violence in Haiti have sparked concerns over a potential exodus from the Caribbean nation to Florida's shores. DeSantis has made cracking down on illegal immigration a policy priority.

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