Makeshift vessels, like the one seen here on Islamorada’s Sea Oats Beach in late May 2022, have littered the Florida Keys throughout the first weeks of 2023 as authorities attempt to cope with an unprecedented influx of Cuban and Haitian migrants. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

On Jan. 6, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 23-03, activating the Florida National Guard, directing state law enforcement and other agencies to provide resources in support of local governments responding to the influx of migrants landing in the Florida Keys, and providing additional support toward efforts to prevent further migrant landings on Florida’s shores.

Blaming the administration of President Biden for the problem, Desantis said, “I am activating the National Guard and directing state resources to help alleviate the strain on local resources. When Biden continues to ignore his legal responsibilities, we will step in to support our communities.”

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which has 194 deputies, has been dedicating the resources to manage the movement of hundreds of migrants while also ensuring adequate public safety.

The state will deploy airplanes and helicopters from the Florida National Guard, and will bolster Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine patrol to support water interdictions and ensure the safety of migrants attempting to reach Florida through the Florida Straits.

Florida has a long history of helping refugees, including Cubans and others fleeing communist regimes, find support after they arrive in the United States; however, this has always involved support from the federal government and a large, coordinated effort among state, federal and local governments.

On Jan. 1, about 300 illegal aliens unlawfully entered Dry Tortugas National Park, located about 70 miles west of Key West, with an additional 45 illegal aliens entering Key West. This massive influx of illegal immigrants caused the park to close to ensure the safety of visitors and staff and to provide the space necessary to attend to the illegal immigrants. Since August 2022, federal, state and local law enforcement have encountered more than 8,000 migrants in waters off the coast of Florida.