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Illegal immigration in Florida: A by-the-numbers look at a surge

NewsIllegal immigration in Florida: A by-the-numbers look at a surge

A spike in illegal immigration and victory in a key lawsuit has given Gov. Ron DeSantis ammunition in support of his hspanrdline stspannce on immigrspantion policies

Only the southwest border states of Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico have seen more undocumented immigrspannts than Florida so far this fiscal year, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Florida ranks just ahead of New York and well ahead of most other states nationwide, with a total of 57,816 contacts with those who have entered the country illegally between October and February. That is more than the number of contacts made in the state during the entire 2022 and 2021 fiscal years combined. 

Of those, a total of 5,005 individuals have been apprehended. 

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Immigration from four countries has fueled the growing trend, with authorities making contact with 19,442 Venezuelan nationals, 12,840 Cuban nationals, 6,344 Haitian nationals, and 4,201 Ukrainian nationals in Florida between October and February.  

However, Cuban nationals account for the bulk of undocumented immigrants who were detained, accounting for 4,398 of the total 5,005 apprehensions this year. Only 349 Haitians were apprehended, and zero Ukrainians and Venezuelans.

On March 8, a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump issued a 109-page final order ruling in Florida’s favor in a lawsuit against the United States, placing the blame on federal “Parole and Alternative to Detention” policies for enticing foreign nationals into crossing into the United States illegally under the belief they would eventually be released into the country.

Florida argued that over 100,000 of those immigrants have been released into the state, causing a rise in the cost of public services, citing increases in the amount of undocumented children who attend public schools and costs of other services such as incarceration, unemployment benefits, and emergency Medicaid.

“For the most part, the Court finds in favor of Florida because, as detailed below, the evidence establishes that Defendants have effectively turned the Southwest Border into a meaningless line in the sand and little more than a speedbump for aliens flooding into the country by prioritizing ‘alternatives to detention’ over actual detention and by releasing more than a million aliens into the country — on ‘parole’ … without even initiating removal proceedings,” Judge Thomas Kent Wetherell of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Florida wrote in the final order.

DeSantis touted Florida’s legal victory against the Biden Administration during a recent stop in Iowa, where he also trumpeted state-level efforts to bolster enforcement. 

“When I became governor, we finally banned sanctuary cities in the state of Florida, we recently sued Biden over his catch and release policy and guess what, this week a federal judge in the Florida Panhandle ruled that his catch and release policy is illegal and unconstitutional. So they are going to have to change something,” DeSantis said.

On March 9 the Biden administration issued a statement outlining new efforts to bolster border security while also enhancing legal pathways.

“Over the past two years, the Biden-Harris Administration has secured more resources for border security than any of the presidents who preceded him, deployed the most agents ever — more than 23,000 — to address the situation at the border, prevented record levels of illicit fentanyl from entering our country, and brought together world leaders on a framework to deal with changing migration patterns,” his administration said in the media release.

“The Administration has also put in place new measures to enhance security at the border and reduce the number of individuals crossing unlawfully between ports of entry while expanding and expediting legal pathways for orderly migration. The president also outlined new consequences for those who fail to use these new legal pathways.”

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