Officials in Florida are pleading with the Trump administration to change its plan to send hundreds of migrants a week to Broward and Palm Beach counties—the two most reliably Democratic counties in the state.
According to the two counties’ officials, who on Thursday gave out details of the administration’s plans, the administration plans to release asylum-seekers detained along the southern border into the two counties at the rate of a combined 135 people a week, or about 1,000 a month. The officials said the migrants would begin arriving in the next two weeks, and they were not told when the program would stop.
Trump had previously floated the idea of sending migrants to sanctuary cities—he called it his “sick idea”—both to alleviate some of the strain on overcrowded detention facilities near the border and also to send a message to Democrats. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, concerned with the public relations damage that could come from such an explicitly retaliatory move, highlighted financial concerns and rejected the idea as inappropriate, according to the Washington Post.
Broward and Palm Beach counties are not sanctuary cities, but some have surmised that Trump was targeting the two counties for punishment because of their politics. Trump had said before that he was considering releasing detainees into other Democratic counties beyond just sanctuary cities. “The blatant politics, sending them to the two most Democratic counties in the state of Florida, is ridiculous,” state Sen. Gary Farmer told Politico. “You can’t make this stuff up.”
The two counties have warned federal officials that they are not equipped to handle such a large influx of migrants. According to Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, the administration did not give the county any accommodations or even a plan for what it should do. Palm Beach County Mayor Mack Bernard, speaking in the same press conference, said it was possible the resources might only become available with an emergency declaration. Broward County officials said they were put in a similar situation.
“This is a humanitarian crisis. We will do everything possible to help these people,” Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen, a Democrat, said in a statement. “If the President will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment.”
County officials were not the only ones who felt blindsided by the administration’s decision. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and Trump ally, also questioned the move and asserted that the counties did not have the resources needed to provide for the migrants. An aide for DeSantis told Florida public radio that the Trump administration had not informed the governor’s office of the decision ahead of time.
On Thursday, Trump attempted to roll out an immigration plan that would shift the focus onto the applicants’ skills and education level, including English proficiency and a civics test.