UPDATE: The Miami Herald now is reporting that U.S. Customs and Border Protection “has no imminent plans” to send the undocumented immigrants, but has been preparing “contingency plans” to that end.
Seeming rattled by reports that the Trump administration will release thousands of undocumented immigrants in South Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the president and shifted blame to federal immigration enforcement agencies.
“This was not something that came down from the White House. This was something that came out of the agencies. Sometimes this stuff happens. It’s going to ultimately be something I’m going to have to talk with the president about,” DeSantis he told reporters Friday morning.
“We cannot accommodate in Florida just dumping unlawful migrants into our state. It will tax our resources, the schools, the health care, law enforcement, state agencies,” he said.
Thursday, leaders in Democratic-leaning Broward and Palm Beach counties warned of plans to send as many as 1,000 immigrants per month with no support for their housing, food, or security.
“This is a humanitarian crisis. We will do everything possible to help these people. If the president will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment,” Broward Mayor Mark Bogen said in a press release.
Trump has threatened to transfer undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers from border areas to so-called sanctuary cities, largely Democratic Party-controlled, which decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Florida contains no sanctuary cities; in any event, DeSantis pushed legislation through this year requiring local officials and law enforcement to cooperate.
The governor, who has tied his political fortunes to the president, objected to the unfairness of it all.
“We, basically, as a state, said we are going to work with the federal government constructively. We’re going to work with them to remove criminal aliens. We’re not going to be like so many of these other states that are not allowing federal authorities to come into a jail or courthouse,” he said.
“So we’ve been very cooperative. To have this then put into certain communities here … .” The governor didn’t finish the sentence.
“I am going to be addressing this. This was something that leaked out yesterday. I have had conversations, but we’re going to have to do some more on this, for sure.”
DeSantis also blamed Congress – and, by implication, congressional Democrats.
“I don’t think this should happen in Florida. But understand – the disaster that you’re seeing at the border, that is a disaster created by the policies enacted by the Congress of the United States. This is a direct result of bad policy that’s been implemented. I think they should change the policy so that we’re not in a situation where we’re having to do this in the future,” he said.
Members of Florida’s congressional delegation protested the plan to use migrants as “political pawns.”