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Florida lawmakers ask Biden to send U.S. Navy to stop Haitian boat migrants

PoliticsFlorida lawmakers ask Biden to send U.S. Navy to stop Haitian boat migrants

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Congressional Republicans on Monday asked President Biden to authorize the U.S. Navy to blockade the Florida coast to stop an expected mass migration of people fleeing Haiti.

Led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida lawmakers said the administration has the power under federal law to use the Navy to stop a mass migration and, given the unrest and violence in Haiti, it’s time to trigger that power.

“We urge you to engage the necessary assets to conduct maritime interdictions and interceptions of Haitians under 46 U.S. Code § 70051 and Executive Order 13276 and repatriate them to Port-au-Prince, Haiti,” the lawmakers said.

The Coast Guard is generally the first line of defense, but the lawmakers believe that isn’t enough to head off the kind of migration that’s expected.

Army Gen. Laura Richardson, head of U.S. Southern Command, told Mr. Gaetz at a congressional hearing last week she had already asked for increased capacity to be ready because the existing resources “are insufficient to address the scope and scale of the anticipated mass migration.”

She said the U.S. was preparing to use its facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an interdiction camp. But Mr. Gaetz and his colleagues said they want to see the migrants sent directly back to Haiti, which they said would derail the flow of people.

In addition to Mr. Gaetz, the signers of the letter are Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Anna Paulina Luna and Daniel Webster.

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