PUNTA GORDA, Fla.—On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding transparency and that they cease sending illegal aliens to Florida.
“President [Joe] Biden, Vice President [Kamala] Harris, and their administration have refused to fulfill their responsibility to enforce immigration laws enacted by Congress and the resulting influx of unvetted illegal aliens endangers our national security and undermines the socioeconomic wellbeing of hardworking American citizens,” DeSantis said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, even though the federal government is responsible for immigration enforcement, it is the states who bear the brunt of this administration’s reckless immigration policies.”
In the letter (pdf) to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, the Republican governor wrote that he wanted an end to the mass resettlements of illegal aliens into the United States. DeSantis also urged the Department of Homeland Security to provide more transparency when it comes to the resettling of illegals in Florida and to give advance notice to “state leadership” before illegals are resettled into the state. He called the Biden administration’s border policies “disastrous” and gave a deadline of September 30, 2021, to give the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) a long list of information and data before sending more illegals into the state.
DeSantis’ letter requested that the Biden administration disclose the following information to FDLE:
- the number of illegal aliens resettled in Florida;
- the names and destination of the illegal aliens;
- the number of illegal aliens resettled in Florida who were tested for COVID-19 and the results of such tests;
- the identities of illegal aliens who have criminal records and who have previously entered the U.S. illegally; and
- the number and identity of illegal aliens resettled in Florida who have failed to appear for their removal proceedings.
The letter went on to accuse the Biden administration of operating its own human smuggling operation.
“My office has received information indicating that ICE, sometimes with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has chartered flights transporting illegal alien adults and children to Florida,” the governor wrote. “Given the overall lack of transparency, I am concerned that the federal government is running its own massive human smuggling operation, surreptitiously resettling illegal aliens in the various states without consultation or even advance notice to state leadership.”
The governor wrote that this practice is “intolerable and unacceptable.”
DeSantis wrote that he knows “firsthand” about the border crisis as he visited the border and deployed law enforcement officers to aid Texas law enforcement and border patrol agents with the surge of migrants attempting to cross the border.
“I have been to the border, and I observed firsthand the chaos that this administration’s policies have created,” DeSantis said. To fill the void left by the federal government, Florida deployed its own law enforcement officers to the border.”
After speaking with law enforcement officers who were deployed to the border to aid Texas law enforcement, DeSantis said they have told him that many of the migrants that were apprehended at the border said they plan to come to Florida.
“Floridians welcome responsible immigration that serves the interests of our citizens, but we cannot abide the lawlessness that this administration is aiding and abetting, and frankly encouraging, on the southwest border,” DeSantis said.
Law enforcement officials, according to the governor’s office said that most of the migrants indicated their final stops were going to be larger Florida cities such as Kissimmee, Orlando, Miami, Hialeah, and Jacksonville.
In April 2021, DeSantis had written to Mayorkas’s office requesting that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) remove all illegal alien felons who had completed their prison sentences in Florida. The governor said in his current letter that he has seen “no action” to enforce the federal immigration laws.
DeSantis wrote that it was his opinion that DHS was resettling large numbers of illegal aliens who have “no lawful status under federal immigration law from the southwest border to Florida.”
He wrote: “The Constitution charges the President with the duty to faithfully execute the laws, and with respect to immigration enforcement, the federal government, with the Supreme Court’s blessing, has assumed near exclusive responsibility. Unfortunately, President Biden and this administration refuse to fulfill their responsibility to enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress.”
DeSantis said in his letter that the “Remain in Mexico” program that was administered under the Trump Administration was ultimately replaced with “catch and release” by the Biden administration, which he attributes to the massive influx of migrants.
“The administration’s reversal or weakening of the prior administration’s enforcement policies had amounted to an open invitation for mass illegal migration the United States, and the results have been predictably catastrophic,” DeSantis wrote. “Since this administration took office, the number of illegal aliens encountered at the southwest border has skyrocketed, increasing each month at an unrelenting pace.”
When Biden took office in January the number of border encounters was 78,417. In one month that number increased to 101,098; 173,283 in March; 178,797 in April; 180,569 in May; 188,934 in June and 212,672 in July according to figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This puts a total number of encounters for the fiscal year to be approximately 1.3 million. In the last year of the Trump administration, the total number of encounters was 458,088.
The governor ended his letter with doubts that the federal government would comply with his request and reminded the secretary that it was the states who were “saddled” with the costs of having illegals in their states. Also, he said that massive illegal immigration increases the spread of COVID-19 and will consume taxpayer money and overload government services including the education system.
“Although I seek an immediate end to the resettlement of illegal aliens in Florida, at the very least, DHS should provide the requested information in the interest of greater transparency,” DeSantis wrote. “The State of Florida is entitled to this information to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its people.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comments.