DeSantis details alarming find aboard Haitian migrant boat seized off Florida coast

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Friday that state law enforcement had intercepted a vessel coming to the Florida coast carrying dozens of Haitian migrants, as well as firearms, drugs and night vision gear.”Our Florida Fish and Wildlife offices interdicted a vessel that had 25 illegal immigrants, potential illegal immigrants from Haiti in their boat. In their vessel they had firearms, they had drugs, they had night vision gear and were boating very recklessly, which would potentially endanger other folks,” DeSantis said, adding that the interdiction had occurred “recently” in the last few weeks.”That vessel was interdicted near the Sebastian Inlet and those illegal aliens were turned over to the Coast Guard for deportation,” he said.DESANTIS SENDS SOLDIERS, AIRCRAFT TO ‘PROTECT’ FLORIDA FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS BOATS AMID HAITI UNRESTDeSantis made the announcement at a press conference in which he also signed three pieces of legislation to deter illegal immigration into the Sunshine State.The Republican governor had earlier this week announced an increase of personnel and aircraft to the Florida coast in light of unrest in Haiti and the potential for an increase in migration via the sea from the conflict-hit country.The Caribbean nation has seen a significant escalation in violence as gangs have overrun the capital, burning police stations and attacking the main airport. Gangs have also raided some of the largest prisons, releasing thousands of inmates. DHS WARNS HAITIAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARRIVING BY BOAT FACE ‘IMMEDIATE REPATRIATION’ The deployment in Florida includes 48 additional National Guardsmen with four additional helicopters, 39 officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 30 additional Florida Highway Patrol officers with aircraft and drones, and 23 additional officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with eight additional seacraft, according to DeSantis’ office.He stressed on Friday that this had been going on for a while, and this was an increase in enforcement and not a new operation. He said that from Jan 2023 last week, officials had assisted the Coast Guard with the interdiction of 670 vessels carrying over 13,500 illegal immigrants.”The message is the last thing you should want to do is get on a boat and think you’re going to come through from any of these islands to get to the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “The most likely scenario is you’ll be stopped, and you will be returned to your country of origin.”HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER ARIEL HENRY TO RESIGN AMID LOW-SCALE CIVIL WAR, BOWING TO INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE “It’s a hazardous journey, it’s not worth doing, and we have the resources to continue to keep the people of Florida safe.”On Tuesday, Rebecca Zimmerman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, told lawmakers that the Pentagon is “alert” to the possibility of a mass migration event, but it has also not yet seen large numbers.”I think you’re right that the driving conditions in Haiti could very well press more people,” she told Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. “We recently approved some additional assistance we could provide to the Coast Guard.”The Department of Homeland Security has also said it is monitoring the situation, but has stressed that migration flows in the Caribbean remain “low.” It also warned that those crossing face being turned back to their country of origin.”U.S. policy is to return noncitizens who do not have a fear of persecution or torture or a legal basis to enter the United States. Those interdicted at sea are subject to immediate repatriation pursuant to our longstanding policy and procedures. The United States returns or repatriates migrants interdicted at sea to The Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti,” a spokesperson said.On Friday, DeSantis also signed three pieces of legislation related to immigration. One increased the maximum sentence for people driving without a license. Another enhances penalties for crimes committed by illegal immigrants who return to the country after deportation, while the third bill states that no jurisdiction can recognize IDs that are distributed by other states to illegal immigrants. 
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