Florida Keys officials plead for more federal help to deal with migrant crisis

MARATHON, Fla. – Monroe County commissioners asked for more federal resources to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis in the Florida Keys, passing a resolution as they met Wednesday morning in Marathon.

The resolution, put forth by Mayor Craig Cates, calls on President Joe Biden, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez to “provide the necessary federal resources to address the influx of migrant arrivals in the Florida Keys.”

Earlier Wednesday, officials detained 15 migrants who landed on Big Pine Key.

The move to seek additional federal help comes as local taxpayers continue to foot the bill for some aspects of the response to migrant landings in the Florida Keys.

Most of the migrants are escaping difficult political and economic situations in Cuba and Haiti.

But officials say the landings are straining their resources.

For instance, Monroe County sheriff’s deputies must respond to each landing and wait for federal agents to arrive, tying up deputies who should be responding to calls.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently deployed state resources to aid local law enforcement.

But the biggest cost is removing of the derelict vessels migrants arrive on. Officials said the county expects to spend up to $400,000 this year just to to remove those boats.

The county expects to spend $250,000 on derelict vessels this month alone.

“We’re really concerned about all of the damage that these migrant vessels are causing to our near-shore waters, our reef, especially large vessels from Haiti,” Cates said.

County officials said they are able to handle the surge for now, but their concern is what happens if the number of landings continues to grow and they end up not being able to respond to every landing.


About the Authors:

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.