DeSantis attacks Biden’s immigration policy amid migrant surge in South Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks about migrant surge during a news conference in The Villages on Jan. 12, 2023. (WPLG)

Gov. Ron DeSantis attacked President Joe Biden’s immigration policy Thursday amid a surge in migrants arriving in South Florida.

After being asked at a news conference about how he felt about some critics’ beliefs that his recent actions on the migrant crisis was a “political stunt,” the governor said he thought it was “funny.”

The Coast Guard actually requested the state’s assistance -- they had all these vessels coming,” DeSantis said.

The governor said the Coast Guard has been “stretched thin” due to the surge in migrants coming from Cuba, Haiti and other countries, and said the state is “filling in the gaps” that should be filled by the federal government.

“We’ve been very aggressive, really across the board, at mitigating the damage from Biden’s disastrous border policies and part of it is just what they’re doing at the border, but part of it is the message that’s gone out to say, ‘the rules don’t matter. Just show up and you’re fine.’ And you can’t run a country like that and it’s caused a lot of problems,” DeSantis said.


The governor said the state will continue to provide assistance to the Coast Guard as needed.

“We are going to clear the vessels free of charge for those residents because it wasn’t their fault,” he said. “Maybe we’ll send the bill to Biden, we’ll see, but the reality is this is just not the way you run a country.”

The governor said the state has deployed air assets to identify approaching vessels and then notify the Coast Guard.

More than 4,400 migrants, mostly Cubans with some Haitians, have arrived by boat in Florida since August as those two countries face deepening political and economic crises.

Almost 8,000 Cubans and Haitians have been intercepted since August — about 50 per day compared with 17 per day in the 2021-22 fiscal year and just two per day during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Officials said at least 65 migrants have died at sea since August.

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Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for