DeSantis deploys personnel to South Florida amid political turmoil in Haiti

by | Mar 13, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis has dispatched more than 250 additional state personnel and various air and sea assets to the Florida Keys and the state’s southern waters to preempt a potential surge in illegal immigration from Haiti.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has mobilized additional state personnel and resources to the Florida Keys and the state’s southern waters, aiming to forestall a possible surge in illegal immigration from Haiti, officials said Wednesday.

The augmentation includes over 250 officers and soldiers, alongside more than a dozen air and sea crafts, reinforcing Florida’s stance against unauthorized maritime arrivals. The deployment entails an array of resources from several state agencies, including 39 officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; 23 officers and eight seacrafts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; 48 Guardsmen and four helicopters from the Florida National Guard; and 30 officers, an additional aircraft, and drones for surveillance purposes from the Florida Highway Patrol. DeSantis additionally authorized the deployment of up to 133 soldiers from the Florida State Guard to the Florida Keys to assist in the operation.

“Given the circumstances in Haiti, I have directed the Division of Emergency Management, the Florida State Guard, and state law enforcement agencies to deploy over 250 additional officers and soldiers and over a dozen air and sea craft to the southern coast of Florida to protect our state,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

Per the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG), state agencies have maintained security and surveillance assets in South Florida and the Keys as a part of Operation Vigilant Sentry to stop illegal immigration at sea, even before Wednesday’s announcement.

“Illegal immigrants feel empowered to enter the sovereign territory of the United States because of the federal government’s refusal to diligently enforce our immigration laws and protect the integrity of the border,” said the EOG. “When a state faces the possibility of invasion, it has the right and duty to defend its territory and people. Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida will act.”

The breakdown of political order in Haiti, exacerbated by gangs overtaking the nation and the forced resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has led to a humanitarian crisis with thousands internally displaced, widespread violence, and a severe lack of resources. An internal memo from the U.S. Border Patrol leaked to and reported on by the New York Post indicates that Miami border agents are on high alert for an expected wave of migration from Haiti. The memo suggests that repatriating Haitians may be impractical due to the country’s instability and warns that even a single vessel’s arrival could overwhelm local border agency capabilities.

The United Nations additionally reported that continuing gang violence has resulted in thousands being displaced, attacks on police stations, and the shutdown of essential services, leading to disease and starvation.


%d bloggers like this: