Federal agents not seeing surge of migrants on Florida's coast despite preparations for influxes

'We did see a decrease, or slow down, in activity during the last two months,' Adam Hoffner says
Posted at 6:54 PM, May 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 19:51:26-04

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. — Border patrol agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they're not seeing an influx of migrants at Florida's maritime borders as of yet, despite concerns with the expiration of Title 42.

Previously, WPTV reported that Title 42 technically doesn't affect those in Florida— the pandemic-era policy only ever applied to the southwest border.

Yet Adam Hoffner, chief border patrol agent for the Miami sector, told WPTV's Kate Hussey if people don't know that, the area could see an uptick in migrants trying to come across, hoping they'd have an easier time staying in the United States.

As of Monday, Hoffner said he's not seeing any significant increase in migrants encountered, but did say agents responded to a couple of migrant encounters since then.

Adam Hoffner chief border patrol agent for the Miami Sector May 15 2023.jpg
Adam Hoffner chief border patrol agent for the Miami Sector shares how things have been on Florida's coast.

Monday morning, authorities responded to a migrant landing on Sunny Isles Beach in what federal officials characterized as a “suspected maritime smuggling event.”

According to the U.S. Border Patrol, four Chinese nationals made it ashore.

On Saturday, border patrol agents responded to a homemade boat that came ashore near Geiger Key in the Florida Keys and found 8 Cuban migrants on board.


Border Patrol agents in South Fla. prepare for possible influx of migrants

Kate Hussey
6:44 PM, May 11, 2023

The U.S. Coast Guard also said they intercepted three boats off Florida's coast in the last week, repatriating a total of 68 migrants, 50 of which went back to Cuba, and 18 of whom were sent back to the Bahamas.

A representative told Hussey he couldn't say if that was a significant number or not, but said the Coast Guard is continuing its presence, and said they cannot anticipate a surge since the end of Title 42, releasing the following statement:

"We want to ensure that people know our maritime borders are closed.The Coast Guard and our federal partners maintain a continual presence with air and sea assets in the Florida Straits and in the Caribbean Sea. This is a multi-layered approach to interdict migrants attempting to enter the U.S. Migrants intercepted at sea, regardless of their nationality, will not be permitted to enter the U.S. and will be repatriated to their country or origin or returned to the country they departed from." - U.S. Coast Guard, District 7

Last week, prior to the expiration of Title 42, Hoffner said maritime landings and migrant encounters had dropped off, but added weather also plays a big factor.

"We did see a decrease, or slow down, in activity during the last two months, that can also correlate to weather conditions, the sea-state and things of that nature," Hoffner said.

Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction Agent John Apollony, who is part of the air and marine operation unit, added he typically sees migrant landings come in waves.

"They may have these vessels staged, and when the conditions are right they’ll launch at the same time," Apollony said.

Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction Agent John Apollony May 15 2023.jpg
Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction Agent John Apollony shares how often migrant landings happen.

Still, the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection tell WPTV they will continue their increased presence in the keys to be ready if there is an influx later on.

"For us, it's key to be aware of those and to adjust accordingly and be strategic with our partners and be, you know, be prepared," Hoffner said.

Federal agents, along with other federal, state and local law enforcement resources will continue having a heavier presence in the Keys for at least two more months now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended an executive order, allotting more resources to the Florida Keys. It was originally enacted to combat what was previously a significant uptick in the amount of migrants coming to the Florida coast earlier in the year.