Florida officials are breathing easier after averting what they considered a “crisis” when a Trump administration proposal threatened to send hundreds of migrant families to the state.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not be sending family units to the Sunshine State “at this time,” an official with the agency indicated Saturday following reports earlier this week that the highly populated Broward and Palm Beach counties would soon have to be housing the migrants.
The agency is, however, “looking at processing capacity for U.S. Border Patrol sectors across the nation,” according to WPTV.
“It appears that Border Patrol has backed off its initial plans to transport a thousand illegal immigrants to South Florida,” Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said in a statement Saturday.
“I want to thank the community for its support. I also want to thank all the elected officials that came to the press conference to support our efforts and thank the governmental officials that stepped forward to make sure that, if in fact this happened, we would have the proper plans in place,” he added. “Because of everybody’s efforts, we are able to stop what had appeared to be a crisis for our community.”
I want to thank our community for it’s unequivocal support regarding this immigration issue in Palm Beach County. pic.twitter.com/4uAeEqys0G
— Sheriff Ric Bradshaw (@RicBradshaw) May 18, 2019
The controversial plan to relocate hundreds of illegal immigrant family units stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border to the two Democratic strongholds in Florida sparked an immediate backlash from local and state officials this week. In a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Palm Beach County Association of Chiefs of Police expressed “strong concerns” over the immigrant relocation program.
“Our members have very strong concerns relating to the impact of such an operation where 14,000 migrant family units per year may be flown into South Florida, transported to Riviera Beach, processed and released into our communities as they wait for their court hearing and processing,” the letter read, in part.
NEW letter from Palm Beach County Association of Chiefs of Police to @GovRonDeSantis – “ the Palm Beach County Association of Chiefs of Police and all of our member agencies strongly oppose this resettlement plan and operation.”@ccoddcbs4news @CBSMiami pic.twitter.com/JIV68lsJYN
— liz roldan (@lizroldancbs4) May 17, 2019
“This action will surely task all of law enforcement in our communities. This unfunded mandate will change the challenges for every agency who today are already challenged with the influx of undocumented migrants that continue to land on our beaches in South Florida,” the letter continued.
Another letter was also sent to DeSantis.
NEW: In a letter by the Palm Beach County Association of Chiefs of Police, officials informed @GovRonDeSantis yesterday that 14,000 migrant families per year may be flown to South Florida, processed and released into the communities as they wait for court hearing and processing. pic.twitter.com/068XPP7X2w
— Wanda Moore (@WandaMooreWPTV) May 17, 2019
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection indicated that non-criminal, processed family units awaiting court hearings were being released due to overcrowding at Border Patrol stations on the southern border.
“The men and women of CBP are doing everything we can to achieve our humanitarian mission and will continue to coordinate with stakeholders in local communities, including other law enforcement agencies, elected officials, and non-governmental organizations, as DHS employs a ‘whole of government’ approach to confronting the ongoing crisis,” a statement said.
But the state’s Republican governor announced that the proposal was “not acceptable”
“We cannot accommodate in Florida just dumping unlawful migrants into our state,” the outspoken supporter of President Trump said at a news conference in Sarasota on Friday. “I think it’ll tax our resources, the schools, the health care, law enforcement, state agencies.”
“I don’t think this should happen in Florida,” DeSantis said. “My understanding is this would be just releasing people into our society.”
“I’m going to be addressing this,” he said. “This is not something that came down from the White House. This was something that came out of the agencies.”
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James slammed the plan which “may become a humanitarian crisis in our own backyard.”
“It’s time to take politics out of the immigration debate and develop common sense solutions that benefit everyone, the newly elected Democratic mayor said in a statement on Friday.
State Sen. Joe Gruters expressed his disapproval of the plan before it was put on hold Saturday, saying he was “not supportive,” according to CBS12.
“I agree with Governor DeSantis and say this is not something the state has resources to handle. We were not aware this was planned, still looking into the details, but we are not supportive of this decision,” Gruters, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida who recently sponsored a bill banning “sanctuary cities,” said.