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Martin County sheriff calling for more resources following return from southern border

'I was completely taken aback by how porous our border is,' Sheriff William Snyder says
Posted at 7:28 PM, Feb 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-19 19:28:21-05

STUART, Fla. — Martin County Sheriff William Snyder is calling for the federal government to send more resources to the southern Border following his trip to Cochise County, Arizona.

Snyder left for the U.S. Mexico line last week in an effort to curb what he said is close to a state of emergency in Martin County related, in part, to drugs.

The announcement came following three major drug busts in the County, which Snyder said pointed back to the southern border.

"I'll get a bird's eye view of how they're dealing with societal disruptions," Snyder said during the announcement. "Let me be clear, I'm not going as a tourist. I'm not going to make a political statement. It's my belief that I may be able to direct resources here."

Snyder toured with Sheriff Mark Dannels of Arizona's Cochise County and described to WPTV a complex network of smugglers, which Snyder said are trafficking humans and drugs into the United States.

"I was completely taken back by how porous our border is, by how few resources are dedicated to trying to secure our border," Snyder said. We were seeing cars coming in from all over the country and ultimately ending up in Martin County, St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County."

Snyder said after spending four days on the U.S.-Mexico line, the solution, for him, is clear.

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Martin County Sheriff William Snyder talks about how the government needs to send more resources to the southern border.

"We must dedicate every possible resource the U.S. government has to stop the flow of undocumented aliens coming into this country," Snyder said.

It's not the first time Snyder has called on the federal government to do more.

Last February, he wrote a letter to President Joe Biden amid a then surge of migrant landings.

Now he said the problem is overflowing his jails, burdening his resources and affecting taxpayers.

"We are in an absolute state of emergency with jail overcrowding here in Martin County," Snyder said. "One of the reasons is the undocumented aliens that are here."

Yet in an interview with WPTV, the Florida Immigration Coalition staunchly disagreed with Snyder.

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"The issues impacting our communities in Palm Beach County, Martin County, they won't be resolved by trips to the border," Deputy Director Renata Bozzetto said. "They won't be resolved by putting our resources in Arizona."

Bozzetto said she feels local leaders should focus on education and increasing support for schools to address the drug problem instead of blaming it on the border.

She also said she feared the border message paints all immigrants, such as herself, in a negative light.

"It adds to the narrative, a narrative that's incoherent with Florida's history as a welcoming state," Bozzetto said. "Florida has been a safe harbor for Cubans who sought refuge in the 60s and for people like me, who are building a home right here in our county. The reality is, we have one in five of us who is an immigrant. We are neighbors. We are workers."

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Deputy Director Renata Bozzetto feels local leaders should focus on education and increasing support for schools to address the drug problem.

Snyder, who again emphasized his trip did not use taxpayer money, didn't entirely disagree and said he too saw two different groups of people crossing the border while in Arizona. He said only some of those had criminal intent.

"The other group would be people coming from countries where they can seek asylum, with some kind of paperwork," Snyder said.

However, with local jails full and resources strained, a problem Snyder attributes in part to the border issue, he called on both sides of the aisle to figure something out.

"The border crisis is complex. It can't be solved with political rhetoric," Snyder said. "Both teams in Congress have to get together, play for the American public, score a touchdown and secure the border."

Snyder said because of the jail's overcrowding, he would be declaring a state of emergency to commissioners.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate released a $118 billion bipartisan bill that includes several provisions to reduce the number of people who cross the southern border seeking asylum.

However, that bill was met with opposition from the House of Representatives.