State of Florida Issues Updates on Increased Mass Migration Monitoring Along the Florida Coastline
On August 21, 2022, the Homeland Security Task Force Southeast (HSTF-SE) transitioned from Phase 1a: Steady State and Surge - Preparation to Phase 1b: Steady State and Surge - Prevention in support of Operation Vigilant Sentry (OVS). The Florida Division of Emergency Management has remained an active member of this Task Force in support of their objectives to prevent loss of life at sea and to deter maritime migration.
On January 6, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed EO 23-03 declaring a State of Emergency in response to the surge in migration along Florida’s coastline.
Currently, the Florida Division of Emergency Management is working in tandem with the Florida National Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Highway Patrol to increase coastal vigilance and provide improved situational awareness on migrant activities.
State actions include:
Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM)
- FDEM is leading the coordination of state assets for the mass migration response, including:
- Power resources to assist with power to command posts;
- Two pallets of bottled water and 250 Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) to be used by responding FWC Officers for distribution to affected migrants;
- Night vision goggles and forward-looking infrared units for FWC Officers to safely navigate and patrol waterways at night; and
- A large vessel platform to assist FWC Officers in the detection of migrants at sea, search and rescues, long-distance travel and travel in inclement weather.
Florida National Guard
- The Florida National Guard has 12 aircraft on mission and has conducted 83 flights for a total of 217.3 flight hours.
- The Florida National Guard is mobilizing 100-150 National Guardsman to coordinate operational efforts with the U.S. Coast Guard and FWC aviation teams.
- The Florida National Guard will bolster FWC marine patrol to support water interdictions and ensure the safety of migrants attempting to reach Florida through the Florida Straits.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
- Currently, the FWC does not anticipate the need to institute any additional recreational boating restrictions in the region. Recreational boaters are cautioned to remain clear of any suspected migrant vessel and alert authorities to their location.
- If an abandoned vessel lands on private property, the property owner is not responsible for its removal. The state will remove these vessels free of charge. Report an abandoned vessel to the FWC at 888-404-3922.
- A second wave of 18 additional FWC officers and one mechanic are on scene to provide support throughout the Florida Keys.
- The FWC has tasked five large platform offshore patrol vessels in addition to maritime assets already in place in the Keys, including 40 officers and investigators and 35 vessels. Included in those assets are the 42’ vessel Fearless with three crew members and the 85’ vessel Gulf Sentry with six crew members. They are patrolling and assisting U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection with migrant landings.
- FWC Aviation is conducting routine flights in support of local, state and federal partners and is coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida National Guard and FHP air assets.
- A base camp and command posts have been established in Marathon and Key West for FWC personnel.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
- FDLE has nearly two dozen members deployed in Monroe County. A mobile command bus has been established with a workspace for those deployed.
- FDLE aviation assets are assisting with patrolling the waters.
- FDLE has partially activated the Florida Fusion Center and devoted intelligence analysts to assist with analytical reports.
- FDLE is coordinating Florida’s law enforcement response, similar to their active role in hurricanes, and is in contact with state and local partners to ensure they have the resources needed to manage the current mass migration situation.
- As migrants are more at-risk to human trafficking and other crimes, FDLE is helping to gather and provide intelligence and conducting investigations and assisting as requested by federal, state and local partners.
- FDLE agents are assisting local law enforcement agencies with migrants so they can work other calls. FDLE agents stay with the migrants until they are transferred into the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Florida Highway Patrol (FHP)
- FHP has deployed 31 troopers, six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with drone pilots, two fixed-wing aircraft and one mobile command bus in support of ongoing operations.
Previous state response efforts are available for: