PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The Border Patrol will soon transport 500 migrants a month from the border to Palm Beach and Broward Counties, according to Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
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"It's not a good plan," Sheriff Bradshaw said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. "We think it's a danger to our community, and it's gonna put a real strain on what the resources are."
Sheriff Bradshaw said the Border Patrol in Miami informed him that the migrants will be "family units," and they'll be released into the community pending an asylum hearing.
"They're gonna be given a notice to appear," said Sheriff Bradshaw. "How many people do you think are coming back? Zero."
The sheriff said the migrants could start coming to Palm Beach County in just two weeks.
"No accommodations for transportation, no accommodations for shelter," said Sheriff Bradshaw. "Just no real plan for what's gonna happen to these 500 people a month that's gonna come to Palm Beach County and be released into the community."
The sheriff added his agency is already stretched thin between homelessness, the hepatitis A outbreak, and other issues, and will have trouble handling this surge of migrants.
"To take this type of influx of illegal immigrants into Palm Beach County is a public safety problem," said Sheriff Bradshaw. "What kind of health conditions do they have? What are they gonna do when they get here?"
Unlawful arrivals are overwhelming our system. Now I have just been informed by #PalmBeach Sheriff that starting next week Border Patrol will begin transporting 500 migrants a month from border to #Broward & PalmBeach #Florida, & releasing them pending an asylum hearing#Sayfie— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 16, 2019
According to our news partner NBC 6, Broward Mayor Mark Bogen said the Trump Administration will send two planes a week to South Florida, carrying a total of 270 migrants, as part of its effort to relieve the migrant population along the Texas border. The people will be equally divided between Palm Beach and Broward Counties, Bogen said.
"This is a humanitarian crisis," Bogen told NBC 6. "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."
#Broward County has been informed that the federal government will be sending hundreds of immigrants to Broward to alleviate problems at the U.S. Mexico border. Here's my response: https://t.co/FfuZdLAKNl— Mayor Mark Bogen (@mark_bogen) May 16, 2019
President Trump spoke about the immigration plan Thursday afternoon at the White House Rose Garden.
"We must implement an immigration system that will allow our citizens to prosper for generations to come," Trump said.
On Friday morning, the president tweeted about his immigration plan, but stopped short of mentioning Florida.
"Border Patrol is apprehending record numbers of people at the Southern Border," President Trump tweeted. "The bad 'hombres,' of which there are many, are being detained & will be sent home. Those which we release under the ridiculous Catch & Telease (sic) loophole, are being registered and will be removed later!"
It's unclear if he was referring to Florida when mentioning the migrants being registered.
"All people that are illegally coming into the United States now will be removed from our Country at a later date as we build up our removal forces and as the laws are changed," the president tweeted. "Please do not make yourselves too comfortable, you will be leaving soon!"
Border Patrol is apprehending record numbers of people at the Southern Border. The bad “hombres,” of which there are many, are being detained & will be sent home. Those which we release under the ridiculous Catch & Telease loophole, are being registered and will be removed later!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2019
All people that are illegally coming into the United States now will be removed from our Country at a later date as we build up our removal forces and as the laws are changed. Please do not make yourselves too comfortable, you will be leaving soon!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2019
HOW WILL PALM BEACH COUNTY HANDLE INFLUX OF MIGRANTS?
Advocates and a local immigration lawyer say the system in place for immigrants and those in need is already strained.
Shelters are already at capacity, and the immigration courts are already swamped.
Sophia Eccleston, the president of the board for the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, says at last count there were more than 1,300 homeless people in the county.
"People are coming here with no jobs. Even if they have a place to stay, how do they pay for it?" said Eccleston.
When migrants arrive from Texas, they will be given an order to appear in an already overwhelmed local immigration court system.
"Miami handles all of South Florida it’s one out court, 24 judges. It’s a lot of cases for just 24 judges," said immigration lawyer Richard Hujber. "Cases are extended out two to three years, 2021, 2022, and that’s a long delay. And it’s absolutely correct, a lot of these people will just disappear and not show up to these hearings."
As of now, there are no plans from the federal government to help Palm Beach and Broward counties with man power or money.
So, it’s up to places like the Guatemalan-Maya Center, who advocate for immigrants, to help.
"If this is a chance for us to help more families, then we look forward to it. We will need donations and volunteers to meet that need,” said a spokesman for the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth.