a group of people walking down a street
Haitian migrants walk to a bus during a landing in Tavernier in early 2023. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Gov. Ron DeSantis is ordering additional state assets to the Florida Keys and Florida’s southern waters in anticipation of a potential influx of illegal immigrants from Haiti, which in recent time has been inflicted by gang violence. The governor also authorized a deployment of the Florida State Guard to the Florida Keys on Wednesday to assist in the operation. This deployment includes up to 133 soldiers.

“For quite some time, the State of Florida has been dedicating significant resources to combat illegal vessels coming to Florida from countries such as Haiti,” DeSantis said. “Given the circumstances in Haiti, I have directed the Division of Emergency Management, the Florida State Guard, and state law enforcement agencies to deploy over 250 additional officers and soldiers and over a dozen air and sea craft to the southern coast of Florida to protect our state. No state has done more to supplement the (under-resourced) U.S. Coast Guard’s interdiction efforts; we cannot have illegal aliens coming to Florida.”

Currently, state agencies have security and surveillance assets in South Florida and the Keys as a part of Operation Vigilant Sentry to stop illegal immigration at sea. The governor’s directive today will send additional personnel and assets from the following agencies:

  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement: 39 additional officers.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: 23 additional officers with eight additional seacraft.
  • The Florida National Guard: 48 additional Guardsmen with four additional helicopters.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol: 30 additional officers with additional aircraft and drones for surveillance.

— This story will be updated as more becomes available.