Hundreds of migrants at southern border to be sent to Broward County each month

'We will do everything possible to help these people,' mayor says

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Associated Press

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - The federal government plans to send more than 100 migrants to Broward County every week for the time being to alleviate issues at the U.S.-Mexico border, the county announced Thursday in a news release.

According to Broward County Commission Public Information Manager Kimberly Maroe, a federal agency notified Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony about the move and said to expect 135 migrants to be flown into Fort Lauderdale every week until further notice. 

The first group of migrants are expected to arrive in two weeks. 

"Yesterday, I was made aware that the United States Border Patrol was considering to release a potential influx of immigrants into both Palm Beach and Broward counties. This information was also shared with me by my trusted colleague, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw," Tony said Thursday in a statement. "Although no state or federal government official confirmed such action would be taking place, I elected to share this information with Mayor Mark Bogen and requested an emergency meeting be arranged with all County Commissioners in preparation for such an event. Mayor Bogen advised he would be happy to coordinate such a meeting as he understood the potential negative impact this immigrant release could have on all of Broward County. I'm currently awaiting a scheduled calendar meeting with my County Commissioners."

Bogen criticized the plan, saying the county doesn't have financial means to provide shelter and food for a sudden influx of migrants.

"This is a humanitarian crisis," Bogen said. "We will do everything possible to help these people. If the president will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment."

Bogen said bringing a large amount of migrants to the county will cause further strain on Broward's social services and further harm the immigrants, who will be here without money, jobs, housing or basic knowledge of the area.

"This is irresponsible policy," the mayor said. "To bring hundreds of people here every week without providing the necessary resources to house and feed them is inhumane. Although our Commission has not had the chance to address this issue, in my opinion, the people that we can't find shelter for will become homeless. I would suggest that we bring them to the Trump hotels and ask the president to open his heart and home as well."

Broward County is not considered a sanctuary city for immigrants who have entered the country illegally. 

"The Florida Senate recently passed a controversial bill banning such cities in the state," the news release stated. "President Trump has threatened to send people who illegally cross the border to communities that are considered immigrant friendly."

According to Maroe, the migrants will be processed by U.S. Border Patrol and then released into the custody of the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Maroe said the sheriff called Bogen regarding assistance in housing and assimilating the migrants.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted Thursday that Palm Beach County will be receiving an influx of migrants beginning next week. 

"The Trump administration provided no information about this alleged proposal to members of Congress representing Broward or Palm Beach counties," U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said in a statement. "My colleagues and I representing Broward County and Palm Beach County have requested more information from DHS."

Maroe said the Broward County administrator is conferring with the Palm Beach County administrator to figure out a plan.

"No accommodations for transportation leaving there, no accommodations for a shelter or a place to live -- just no real plan on what's going to happen to these 500 people every month that's going to come to Palm Beach County and be released into our community," Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said at a news conference. 

Bradshaw told reporters that Boder Patrol officials in Miami told him the migrants coming to the area would be "family units."

Trump, meanwhile, laid out a merit-based immigration plan Thursday that he said would give preferential treatment to high-skilled workers.

He said right now the U.S. immigration laws "discriminate against genius" and "discriminate against brilliance" because most of the green cards are given to low-skilled people who would make low wages.

Under the plan, the country would award the same number of green cards as it now does. But far more would go to exceptional students, professionals and people with high-level and vocational degrees.

Factors such as age, English language ability and employment offers would also be considered.

Far fewer green cards would be given to people with relatives already in the U.S. Fifty-seven percent would be awarded on merit as opposed to the current 12 percent.

Trump spoke about his plan in the Rose Garden and said it aims to create a "fair, modern and lawful system of immigration for the United States."

"It's about time," he said. 

The plan is not yet embraced by his own party -- let alone Democrats -- and faces an uphill battle in Congress.

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