22 migrants land at Dry Tortugas National Park as Florida officials ask federal government to act
South Florida Sun-Sentinel February 25, 2023
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — A group of Cuban migrants landed at the Dry Tortugas National Park Thursday, on the same morning Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed the federal government for the border crisis and announced legislation cracking down on illegal immigration.
The 22 migrants ― 19 men and three women ― arrived on a rustic vessel, according to a tweet from Customs and Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar.
Dry Tortugas National Park, located about 70 miles west of Key West, closed down on Jan. 2 in order to attend to approximately 300 migrants who had landed in the park over a few days. The park reopened on Jan. 8.
Another group of 30 migrants landed in the park on Feb. 2, according to Slosar, a group made up of 19 adults and 11 juveniles.
Also on Thursday, Court Guard stopped a migrant venture from landing two miles off Key Colony beach, according to a tweet Friday.
Migrant landings have continued to strain resources along Florida’s coast, leading DeSantis and other officials to criticize the federal government for what they say has been an insufficient response.
At a news conference labeled “Biden’s Border Crisis,” which occurred on the same morning as the landing, DeSantis announced legislation that would increase the penalties for human smuggling, require all employers to use E-verify to confirm employees’ citizenship, and limit paths to education and obtaining identification for undocumented immigrants.
His goal with the legislation was to address the migrant crisis by removing opportunities like the “enticement of employment” that he said undocumented immigrants seek in Florida.
On Thursday, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder penned a letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal assistance after 59 migrants were intercepted off the coast of Hutchinson Island the night before, “the largest number of migrants on a single vessel intercepted in Martin County waterways in the county’s history,” according to a Facebook post from the Sheriff’s Office.
“I am a cop. You are the President of the United States,” Snyder wrote in the letter. “My duty is to protect the people of my county. Your duty is to protect the people of the United States.”
Snyder said in the letter that a federal officer who he spoke to Thursday night told him “his unit is overwhelmed and desperate for additional resources. He believes they are missing many more illegal immigrants than they are apprehending.”
The letter did not name the federal officer or specify what unit he belongs to.
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