MARATHON, Fla. – Florida Sen. Rick Scott joined local officials Thursday in Marathon to discuss the ongoing migrant crisis in the Florida Keys.
The island chain has seen an onslaught of migrant landings, mainly from Cuba and Haiti.
Scott held a news conference on the topic Thursday morning, alongside Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay and other state and local law enforcement officials.
Officials in the Keys say the surge in landings is taxing local resources and shifting the costs of a federal issue to local taxpayers.
They have been critical of the Biden administration’s immigration and border policies.
Local 10 News asked Scott what Congress as a whole could do, like adding more permanent funding resources to the Florida Keys.
Some critics have also said that the Cuban Adjustment Act seems to encourage dangerous migration through the Straits of Florida.
Scott placed blame squarely on the White House.
“The Biden ministration is actually helping them, they’re helping Venezuela,” Scott said. “They took sanctions off, well, we’ve got to do is we got to stand up for the people of Cuba. And we’ve got to say, ‘look, if you want to have a better life, alright, if you want to have a relationship, the United States, then you’ve got to have free and fair elections, you’ve got to let these political prisoners out.’”
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Ramsay said he’s appreciative of the state and federal help that’s arrived in the Keys, but questioned whether it’s sustainable.
“We probably have 100-250 additional boots on the ground, manpower allocation on various assets of land, sea and air. So that’s awesome. It’s really doing a great job now,” Ramsay said. “The sustainability is the problem we have whether we can mitigate this and we don’t need it, if not, again, at the end of 60 days. Where are we at?”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, defended the Biden administration at a separate event on Thursday.
“President Biden inherited an absolute chaotic mess of an immigration system when he became president and I am so glad that he understands that we need legal pathways for immigrants to be processed,” Wasserman Schultz said.
In a tweet late Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas pledged to expel migrants who arrive from the sea.
“Cubans and Haitians who take to the sea and land on US soil will be ineligible for the parole process and will be placed in removal proceedings,” he said.