KEY LARGO, FLA. (WSVN) - Government leaders and law enforcement officials officials have asked for more action to help with the increase in migrant landings along South Florida’s coast.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., spoke out on Thursday about the ongoing migrant crisis happening on the shores of South Florida.
Members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission joined Scott in Marathon, where they talked about the migrant crisis along the Intracoastal border.
“We’re trying to work together as one big team to combat this problem which is affecting this community,” said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay.
“This is pretty basic, right? We like immigration, legal immigration,” said Scott. “Secure the border, enforce our asylum rules, and if we need to, let’s work on how we improve our immigration program.”
Scott toured the Florida Keys on Thursday to see for himself the impact migrant landings are having in this area.
“We went out on the boat. We saw where these rafts are coming in,” he said.
Earlier this month, DeSantis declared a state of emergency, which temporarily moved more resources down to Monroe County.
Ramsay has been openly critical about the federal government’s response to what he called a crisis that has been straining his department.
“These resources are awesome right now, but they’re only temporary. There’s about a 60-day window, but after 60 days, the big question is, where are we at?” said Ramsay.
“We have more federal resources here through the Coast Guard and Border Patrol. That means we have less resources in other places, so that doesn’t make any sense,” said Scott.
The senator targeted the Biden administration by criticizing the way they are handling the response.
“What the Biden administration has got to do is, they’ve got to be clear that we’re going to enforce our immigration laws, we’re going to enforce our asylum laws, we’re going to secure our borders,” said Scott.
“We want to do the best for these people who are looking for a better way of life but there just has to be a plan,” said Ramsay. “We want to know what the plan is, and if the plan isn’t working, we have to reevaluate the plan to make a plan that will work for this geographic area based on the trends that we’re seeing.”
Earlier in January, the spike in migrant landings forced officials to shut down the Dry Tortugas Park.
“We have to have a real solution. This is a short-term solution; we have to have a real solution,” said Scott.
“The big message here continues to be to try to educate the families and friends of loved ones in other countries to get the message that it’s not a good time to come, it’s not worthwhile, it’s not worth the risk, and you’re going to be sent back,” said Ramsay.
DeSantis was also critical about President Biden and laid out how he himself is trying to help.
“Basically, Biden is leaving the Coast Guard out to dry. He’s not sending any more vessels or any more support,” the governor said in an interview. “They don’t have enough to intercept all the boats that are trying to come, primarily from Cuba, but also from Haiti, so what we’re doing with our assets, we’re out there in the Florida Straits, we’re using reconnaissance. We are alerting to the Coast Guard when boats are there, we’re stopping boats, and then the Coast Guard are picking these folks up.”
The governor said the number of vessels in the water is declining.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, since Oct. 1, the increase of migrants arriving is up to 350%. That number is lower than what was recorded last week, which was up by 600%.
The state of emergency is supposed to expire at the beginning of March.
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