Biden Under Pressure: Florida Lawmakers Call For Emergency Response To Impending Haitian Migration

By Javier Sanchez | Tuesday, 19 March 2024 12:00 PM
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In an exclusive report by Fox News, a group of Florida lawmakers, spearheaded by Representative Matt Gaetz, are urging President Biden to take immediate action in response to the potential influx of Haitian immigrants arriving in the United States by boat.

This call to action comes on the heels of Governor Ron DeSantis' decision to increase personnel and aircraft along the Florida coast.

The group of lawmakers, which includes Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Anna Paulina Luna, and Daniel Webster, have penned a letter to President Biden. They are imploring him to use his executive power to declare an "anticipated mass migration of aliens en route to, or arriving off the coast of, the United States." The lawmakers emphasize the urgency of the situation, stating that it necessitates an "immediate federal response."

Haiti, a Caribbean nation, has recently experienced a surge in violence, with gangs taking control of the capital, setting fire to police stations, and launching attacks on the main airport. These gangs have also stormed some of the largest prisons, resulting in the release of thousands of inmates. These events have reignited fears of a potential wave of migration from the sea.

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In response to the escalating unrest in Haiti, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced last week an increase in personnel and aircraft along the Florida coast. The bolstered deployment includes 48 additional National Guardsmen, four helicopters, 39 officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 30 Florida Highway Patrol officers with aircraft and drones, and 23 officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with eight seacraft, according to the governor's office.

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Despite these measures, government officials have stated that they have not yet observed a mass migration. Rebecca Zimmerman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, informed lawmakers on Tuesday that the Pentagon is on high alert for a potential mass migration event, but they have not yet observed significant numbers.

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In a House hearing, Zimmerman acknowledged to Gaetz that the deteriorating conditions in Haiti could potentially drive more people to leave. She added, "We recently approved some additional assistance we could provide to the Coast Guard."

The lawmakers, in their letter, argue that the current resources "are insufficient to address the scope and scale of the anticipated mass migration." They reference a 2002 order by former President George W. Bush aimed at combating illegal immigrants intercepted in the Caribbean.

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The lawmakers suggest that a declaration in line with Executive Order 13276 is necessary to support Florida's efforts by using Department of Defense vessels to intercept and repatriate Haitian immigrants, preferably to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to limit the financial burden on U.S. taxpayers.

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Last week, the Department of Homeland Security stated that it is monitoring the situation, but emphasized that migration flows in the Caribbean remain "low." They also warned that those attempting to cross could face immediate repatriation to their country of origin.

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According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 65 migrants were repatriated on Tuesday after a boat was intercepted near the Bahamas. So far this fiscal year, the Coast Guard has repatriated 131 migrants.

Despite these efforts, concerns among Florida lawmakers persist. Florida Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio also wrote to President Biden last week, seeking clarification from the White House regarding plans "to deal with the significant unrest in Haiti and prevent this humanitarian and security crisis from having a direct negative impact on American families in Florida and across the United States."

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