Florida Prepares for Possible Influx of Migrants as Additional US Troops Are Deployed to Haiti

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
March 13, 2024US News
Florida Prepares for Possible Influx of Migrants as Additional US Troops Are Deployed to Haiti
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis arrives for a bill signing ceremony at the Florida National Guard Robert A. Ballard Armory in Miami on June 7, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The United States is bracing for a possible influx of migrants attempting to flee the civil unrest in Haiti.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in a statement on Wednesday that he has dedicated significant resources to combat illegal vessels coming to Florida from countries such as Haiti. In response to the worsening crisis in the Caribbean nation, the governor committed additional resources to deal with a potential mass migration into his state. The move comes as Haitians try to escape the worsening gang violence, political turmoil, and humanitarian crisis in their home country.

“Given the circumstances in Haiti, I have directed the Division of Emergency Management, the Florida State Guard, and state law enforcement agencies to deploy over 250 additional officers and soldiers and over a dozen air and sea craft to the southern coast of Florida to protect our state,” he posted on social media platform X.

The governor also said no other state has done more to supplement the U.S. Coast Guard’s “under-resourced” interdiction efforts.

Roughly half of the Caribbean country, including 80 percent of the capital of Port-au-Prince, is under the control of heavily armed gangs, according to the International Rescue Commission (IRC).

The IRC says, “Gangs in Haiti have been able to expand their control due to issues such as weak governance, corruption, and an overwhelmed police force.”

The ongoing violence also prompted the U.S. to deploy an elite team of marines to protect the American embassy. The U.S. Southern Command said in a statement on Wednesday that its fleet anti-terrorism security team, known as FAST, was dispatched to beef up embassy security in the capital.

The additional deployment comes after the U.S. military initially flew in forces on Sunday to airlift nonessential personnel from the embassy.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced it would be doubling its funding for a multinational security support mission in Haiti, dedicating a total of $300 million to help restore security.

“Haitians cannot wait any longer for a path to security, stability, and democracy,” Secretary of State Blinken posted on X.

The secretary also said the United States supports a “clear political transition plan, led by trusted representatives of Haitian society,” but political instability has rocked the country since the assassination of President Jovel Moise in 2021. Prime Minister Ariel Henry recently announced he would be resigning from his post once a presidential council has been established, although it remains unclear when that would happen.

The worsening conditions in Haiti have led officials to prepare for a possible influx of Haitian migrants trying to flee the political turmoil and violence.

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing about the ongoing crisis on Tuesday.

During the public hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) pushed for a presidential executive order that would allow the Navy to interdict and repatriate migrants before they could reach U.S. soil.

Department of Defense officials acknowledged the worsening situation in Haiti and a potential influx.

“We are ready if we need to deal with a mass migration,” General Laura Richardson of the U.S. Southern Command told the committee.

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