Florida Experiences Surge in Undocumented Migrant Encounters: Statistics Revealed

Record Number of Undocumented Migrants Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border; Florida Also Experiences Increase

In recent months, the U.S.-Mexico border has witnessed an unprecedented surge in illegal border crossings. However, this influx is not limited to border states alone. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Florida has also seen a significant increase in encounters with undocumented migrants. CBP data for December 2023 reveals that agents in Florida reported nearly 30,000 such encounters, a stark contrast to the reported 8,765 encounters during the same period in 2022. This represents a staggering 240% surge in the number of encounters.

CBP officials clarify that these encounters include apprehensions, inadmissible migrants, and individuals being expelled back to their home countries due to public health concerns. The rise in encounters in Florida is part of a larger trend since October 2020. The CBP explains that the lower number of encounters in previous fiscal years can be attributed to pandemic-era health orders that restricted immigration.

To address this escalating situation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the deployment of up to 1,000 soldiers from the state’s National Guard to Texas. The purpose of this deployment is to assist with border security efforts. This is not the first time Florida has sent troops to the border. Since the initiation of Operation Lone Star in 2021, Florida troops have had contact with nearly 150,000 undocumented migrants and supported the Texas Department of Public Safety in approximately 2,700 arrests. These arrests have involved charges ranging from human smuggling and burglary to child endangerment.

One of the busiest areas for border crossings is Eagle Park in Texas. The town’s mayor recently declared a state of emergency after approximately 6,000 migrants crossed the Rio Grande River in just two days. However, concerns have been raised about the use of razor wire, as some migrants have sustained injuries. The Biden administration argues that the wire hampers Border Patrol agents’ ability to reach migrants as they cross the river. As a result, Border Patrol agents have been instructed to cut the wire. Nonetheless, Governor Abbott of Texas has prohibited them from entering Shelby Park, claiming that the agents have assisted migrants in their border journey.

In a legal battle, a district court upheld Abbott’s actions. However, earlier this month, a Supreme Court order paused the injunction, allowing federal agents to destroy the wire. Abbott remains committed to repairing and replacing barbed wire along the border to deter further illegal crossings. In support of Texas, governors and attorney generals from 25 other states, including Florida, have declared their backing for these border efforts.

Illegal immigration has become a significant policy driver for Governor DeSantis in recent years. Florida lawmakers passed a new rule in the previous year that imposes fines on businesses found hiring undocumented workers. Critics argue that this law could increase costs for goods and services since businesses will need to shift to more expensive legal workforces. However, economists contend that the law will raise wages for low-skilled legal workers and reduce the demand for certain goods and services, leading to lower prices in the state.

Furthermore, law enforcement officials in Florida attribute the influx of fentanyl into the state to the so-called “porous” border. In addition to the National Guard, Florida has deployed law enforcement agents from the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to Texas.

As the U.S.-Mexico border experiences an unprecedented surge in illegal border crossings, Florida is grappling with its own increase in encounters with undocumented migrants. State and federal authorities are working together to address this complex and pressing issue, deploying additional resources and implementing policies to mitigate the challenges posed by this surge. The ongoing situation at the border continues to shape national and regional discussions on immigration and border security.

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