Gaetz leads push for Biden to take ‘immediate’ action on feared Haitian migrant crisis

FIRST ON FOX: Florida lawmakers, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, are calling for an “immediate” response from President Biden over concerns about a potential mass migration of Haitians coming to the country via boats — days after the state’s governor surged personnel and aircraft to the coast.The lawmakers, including Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Anna Paulina Luna and Daniel Webster, have written to Biden calling on him to exercise his authority to declare an “anticipated mass migration of aliens en route to, or arriving off the coast of, the United States.”The lawmakers say that urgent circumstances require an “immediate federal response.”DESANTIS DETAILS ALARMING FIND ABOARD HAITIAN MIGRANT BOAT SEIZED OFF FLORIDA COASTThe 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. It has renewed concerns that a wave of migration from the sea could soon follow.Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an increase of personnel and aircraft to the Florida coast in light of unrest in Haiti. 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, his office said.DESANTIS SENDS SOLDIERS, AIRCRAFT TO ‘PROTECT’ FLORIDA FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS BOATS AMID HAITI UNRESTGovernment officials have stressed that they have so far not seen that mass migration. On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Rebecca Zimmerman 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 Gaetz in a House hearing. “We recently approved some additional assistance we could provide to the Coast Guard.”Separately, officials said they have made requests for increased capability to be “postured appropriately.”In their letter, the lawmakers argue that they believe resources “are insufficient to address the scope and scale of the anticipated mass migration” and highlight a 2002 order by former President George W. Bush which sought to combat illegal immigrants stopped in the Caribbean.HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER ARIEL HENRY TO RESIGN AMID LOW-SCALE CIVIL WAR, BOWING TO INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE “A declaration pursuant to Executive Order 13276 is necessary to reinforce the State of Florida’s efforts by utilizing Department of Defense vessels to conduct maritime interdictions and interceptions of aliens from Haiti and repatriate them, preferably to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as this limits the financial obligation of U.S. taxpayers,” they say.CLICK HERE FOR MORE POLITICS COVERAGEThe Department of Homeland Security said last week that it is monitoring the situation, but it 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.”According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 65 migrants were repatriated on Tuesday after the agency stopped a boat near the Bahamas. So far, the Coast Guard has repatriated 131 migrants this fiscal year. However, it has not quelled concerns from Florida lawmakers. Florida Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio also wrote to Biden last week seeking answers from the White House regarding any plan “to deal with the significant unrest in Haiti and prevent this humanitarian and security crisis from having a direct negative impact on American families in Florida and across the United States.”
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