What do we do when border detention centers are over capacity and there’s nowhere to go for illegal aliens detained at the southern border? “Send them to Florida” seems to be the latest idea coming out of the Trump administration.
The Trump administration is preparing to send a thousand migrants to southern Florida each month in order to relieve the overcrowded and unsustainable conditions on the U.S.- Mexico border. While Customs and Border Protection have not publicly said what the plan entails, community leaders sounded the alarm Thursday. Law enforcement in the designated areas has been informed that the detainees will begin to arrive in the next two weeks.
There’s a whole lot of Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) going on in southern Florida now. The Trump administration found a decision that unites both Democrats and Republicans in their disapproval of law-breaking non-citizens being dropped into their communities. Hey, Florida isn’t a border state.
Even allies of the president were nonplussed. The state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, joined federal lawmakers from Florida — Republicans and Democrats alike — in questioning the apparent effort to foist the immigration and asylum burden on two local jurisdictions without equipping them with the resources to house, feed, educate and protect new arrivals.
“We want a better plan from our federal government,” Palm Beach County Mayor Mack Bernard, a Haitian-born Democrat, said at a news conference. “We are not a border state.”
They will be moved from the El Paso area, a destination for a large number of illegal migrants in recent months, especially since the organized caravans began making their way from Central America to the United States. Officials in El Paso have cried “No mas!” Customs and Border Patrol agents have given numerous television interviews and congressional testimony, too. How many times must they say the situation on the southern border is dire and action must be taken to relieve the toll it is taking on local communities?
It’s not an ideal solution but as long as Congress sits on its hands and lets the problem continue, the options are limited. Many Democrats are finally admitting that the crisis at the border is real, not manufactured by immigration hard-liners who support stronger immigration policy.
Local officials have been told to expect 135 asylum seekers twice a week for the foreseeable future, divided between Broward and Palm Beach counties. Law enforcement officials hope there will be a last-minute reversal of the decision. Were these two counties chosen in connection with President Trump’s idea that sanctuary cities could be called upon to accept illegal migrants? Both counties claim not to have sanctuary status.
Broward and Palm Beach Counties lie next to one another on the state’s Atlantic coast. Neither has sanctuary status limiting cooperation with immigration authorities — a status that would in fact be outlawed under a measure recently advanced by the state legislature.
But the counties are among Florida’s most reliably Democratic jurisdictions, leading the president’s critics to speculate that he was setting his punitive program into motion.
“The blatant politics, sending them to the two most Democratic Counties in the state of Florida, is ridiculous,” Gary Farmer, a Democratic state senator representing part of Broward County, told Politico. “You can’t make this stuff up.”
Of note is the fact that Miami-Dade County is not included in this decision. That county has a large Cuban population who traditionally vote Republican. Broward and Palm Beach have large Hispanic populations and many Border Patrol stations that will process the incoming detainees. They can process them and then release the migrants with instructions to obey a notice to appear. And why shouldn’t a state like Florida help? It shouldn’t be problematic for states that are not border states but already have Border Patrol stations in place and personnel to handle the process to pitch in. Why should Texas and Arizona and California bear all of the burden?
Local officials say they were caught off-guard and that even the governor wasn’t given advance notice of this new decision. That’s a reasonable complaint, as they’re now scrambling to prepare for the arrivals. Broward Mayor Mark Bogen spoke about the anticipated increase in the homeless population to which the county will have to respond.
Leaders say they are scrambling because local homeless shelters are full and there are no plans at any level of government to provide housing.
“We’re expecting the creation of a massive homelessness problem,” Bogen said. “The administration is just dropping them off and saying ‘good luck.’ Then they expect our sheriff’s office to be a bus service. We are not a bus service.”
That’s exactly what areas on the southern border experience now. Local non-profits and charities don’t have unlimited resources to pick up the slack when state and federal government resources run out. The border communities are overwhelmed and unable to provide shelter and food for the large numbers coming in all at once.
Is this a serious proposal by the Trump administration? Will it be carried out in the next two weeks? The Miami Herald tried to confirm the story and was given the run-around by the federal agencies involved in it.
The Miami Herald could not independently confirm the impending influx. U.S. Customs and Border Protection directed press inquiries to the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security directed all questions to Customs and Border Protection. It remained unclear Thursday whether the purported policy applies only to Broward and Palm Beach or to other areas around the nation, and if not, why not. Also, why Miami-Dade was seemingly not included.
Something has to be done to relieve tensions at the border brought about by this crisis. We’ll see if this is a start to an alternative solution until Congress gets its act together and does its job.