Florida officials told reporters May 16 that the Trump administration plans on releasing hundreds of migrants each week in two Democratic strongholds. (Reuters)
By Isaac Stanley-Becker May 17
Florida officials are raising alarm and pressing for details about the purported intention of the Trump administration to send hundreds of immigrants a week to two heavily Democratic counties in South Florida.
Customs and Border Protection has not publicly disclosed its plans. But a partial picture of a new approach to managing a record influx of immigrants at the southern border came into view on Thursday based on the accounts of local leaders in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
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.
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.”
Broward County Mayor Mark D. Bogen, a Democrat and a practicing attorney, framed the issue differently, warning of a “humanitarian crisis.”
“We will do everything possible to help these people,” he said in a news release. “If the President will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment.”
Citing the president’s threat to “send people who illegally cross the border to communities that are considered immigrant friendly,” the mayor called the plans “inhumane.” And he issued a threat of his own, saying that the county should bring those who couldn’t find shelter “to the Trump hotels and ask the President to open his heart and home as well.”
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located in Palm Beach County.