Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the White House considered sending illegal immigrants to Florida, but the administration decided against it.
“No. We’re using the Southwest border sectors for additional capacity,” Kevin McAleenan said during an interview with CBS News’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday.
The acting DHS secretary said the administration decided against the controversial plan because it wasn’t an “effective use of resources.”
“[W]e looked at it from a planning perspective,” he said. “There wasn’t going to be an effective use of resources.
“But yeah, we had to look at all options. When you have 16,000 people in custody and facilities designed for many fewer, you’ve got to look at any planning factor you can.”
McAleenan’s comments come after the Trump administration told officials in Florida’s Palm Beach and Broward counties that it was going to start sending them around 1,000 asylum seekers a month from the El Paso, Texas, area.
The announcement sparked intense backlash from Florida Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio.
“President [Donald Trump] and I spoke yesterday and confirmed that he did not approve, nor would approve, sending immigrants who illegally cross the border, to Florida. It is not going to happen,” DeSantis tweeted Sunday.
President @realDonaldTrump and I spoke yesterday and confirmed that he did not approve, nor would approve, sending immigrants who illegally cross the border, to Florida. It is not going to happen.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 19, 2019
The acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, John Sanders, decided Saturday to nix the idea altogether.
Debate over where to place detained migrants rages on as thousands of foreign nationals continue to arrive on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Over 100,000 illegal immigrants either were apprehended or turned back in March and April, and border encounters have increased every month since January.
Border Patrol agents are averaging 4,500 individual apprehensions a day on the Southwest border, with the number of people in CBP custody now surpassing 17,500.
“The system is full,” McAleenan said Sunday. “We’ve been very clear about that. So what we’re trying to do is plan to be able to manage that capacity safely, to bring people where we can process them efficiently.”
In the meantime, DHS is flying illegal immigrants from overcrowded detention centers in Texas to San Diego, where immigration facilities have a higher capacity to hold them.
Non-criminal migrant families are being flown to the California city and then bused to various Border Patrol stations for processing.
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