Florida Republicans ask Biden to allow Navy to aid in interdictions of Haitian migrants

A group of Florida Republicans is asking President Biden to allow the Navy to conduct maritime interdictions and interceptions of migrants fleeing from Haiti amid the unfolding chaos in the country.

Florida Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz, Gus Biliarakis, Anna Paulina Luna and Daniel Webster all signed the letter sent to Biden calling on him to declare an “anticipated mass migration of aliens en route to, or arriving off the coast of, the United States.” They referenced an executive order signed by former President George W. Bush to address illegal migration in the Caribbean region.

“A declaration pursuant to Executive Order 13276 is necessary to reinforce the State of Florida’s efforts by utilizing Department of Defense vessels to conduct maritime interdictions and interceptions of aliens from Haiti and repatriate them, preferably to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as this limits the financial obligation of U.S. taxpayers,” the lawmakers wrote.

They also cited comments made by military officials during a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week, where Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson said she put in a request for “increased capability” to address potential mass migration.

“We urge you to engage the necessary assets to conduct maritime interdictions and interceptions of Haitians,” the letter concluded.

Haiti has been in political turmoil for weeks as the country struggles with rampant gang violence and political instability. The escalating violence prompted the U.S. to urge all Americans out of the country and start evacuating the U.S. Embassy, where it also deployed a group of Marines.

The lawmakers pointed to Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has already deployed additional resources it its southern regions to address potential migration. He announced last week that he would deploy more than 200 additional state law enforcement officers and about 50 National Guard members to South Florida and the Keys, alongside more than a dozen aircraft and ships.

State officials announced last week that a boat carrying 25 Haitian migrants was recently interdicted by Florida law enforcement.

Reached for comment, a National Security Council spokesperson told The Hill that officials are monitoring the situation and emphasized that irregular migration through the Caribbean remains low. The spokesperson said authorities are nevertheless planning for contingencies and looking at what they could to do manage a potential increase in migrants.

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