Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

22 migrants land at Dry Tortugas park as state officials ask for federal help

- By Shira Moolten Staff writer Shira Moolten can be reached at smoolten@SunSentine­

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 3 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 three weeks ago 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 2 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.

 ?? CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL ?? A group of Cuban migrants landed Friday at the Dry Tortugas National Park.
CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL A group of Cuban migrants landed Friday at the Dry Tortugas National Park.

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