In a bizarre, cryptic announcement, Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen said this afternoon the Trump administration plans to begin shipping migrants from the U.S./Mexico border to Broward and Palm Beach Counties "on a weekly basis without designated shelters or funding to house them, feed them, and keep them safe."
Last month, the Washington Post reported Trump had been attempting to ship migrants and undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities to somehow punish those governments for not cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly quit her job rather than implement the policy.
What Bogen describes sounds eerily similar to what the Post warned about last week. To be clear, there are no sanctuary cities in Florida, let alone the entirety of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The Florida Legislature mere weeks ago passed a statewide ban on sanctuary cities — but Trump's stunt could be some sort of psychotic and inhumane attempt to punish two of the most liberal counties in Florida, a state he's desperately trying to win in the 2020 presidential race.
“This is a humanitarian crisis," Bogen said today. "We will do everything possible to help these people. If the president will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment."
Bogen and county spokespeople did not immediately return calls from New Times this afternoon. But the mayor reportedly learned about the plan from Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, who warned the mayor that the federal government would not assist the county in housing or feeding the new immigrants. The county expects to receive two planeloads of 135 immigrants each week beginning in roughly two weeks. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will process the migrants at offices in Dania Beach and West Palm Beach before essentially dumping them on the street, the mayor warned.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a four-term Democrat who represents south Broward County, called Trump's proposal an "attempt to manufacture crises in our communities and drain already strained resources." Wilson added that she and the rest of Florida's congressional delegation weren't informed about the plan.
"The Trump administration’s alleged proposal to send hundreds of migrants monthly to Broward and Palm Beach counties without any arrangements for their care and safety is a cynical ploy that, if enacted, he hopes will sway the American public to side with him on how to best handle this divisive issue," Wilson said in a media statement. "It also is another example of how little regard this president has for people from certain racial and ethnic demographics."
Fellow Broward Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is based in Weston, said on Twitter that she is upset the Trump Administration has not yet briefed any members of Congress on the plan:
The sentiment was echoed by Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents parts of both counties. "Our diverse community treats immigrants with dignity and respect; the Administration should do the same," the congressman said in a statement. "That starts with a thoughtful plan rather than a rash decision apparently made by some in the Administration without any consultation with the rest of the government."
Even Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump ally, said this afternoon that the proposal is a bad idea.
"The Governor's office was not informed of this decision," he told the media. "Florida counties do not have the resources to accommodate an influx of illegal immigrants."
The Trump administration says there has been a surge of migrants arriving at the southern border seeking (legal) asylum and that the United States is struggling to handle the influx of refugees. (The "surge" is still smaller than previous peaks during the early 2000s, plus migrants have a legal right to seek asylum at foreign borders; critics note that in many cases, Central American migrants are fleeing violence and despair caused partly by American foreign-policy decisions.) In addition to trying to build a wall between the States and Mexico, Trump has tried to make it more difficult for immigrants to seek legal asylum and just yesterday said in a speech he wants the United States to give green cards only to people with high levels of education or those who pass "patriotism tests."
Now Bogen is warning that Trump is preparing to create a humanitarian crisis in South Florida.
“This is irresponsible policy," Bogen said in a news release. "To bring hundreds of people here every week without providing the necessary resources to house and feed them is inhumane. Although our commission has not had the chance to address this issue, in my opinion, the people that we can’t find shelter for and will become homeless, I would suggest, that we bring them to the Trump hotels and ask the president to open his heart and home as well."
This is a breaking story. This post will be updated.