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Acting DHS Chief: Illegal Migrants Won’t Be Dumped In Florida

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the White House considered dumping illegal migrants in Florida, but the administration later decided against it.

“No. We’re using the southwest border sectors for additional capacity,” McAleenan stated during an interview Sunday with CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” 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 continued. “There wasn’t going to be an effective use of resources. But yeah, we had to look at all options. When you have sixteen thousand 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 Palm Beach and Broward Counties in Florida 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 Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, two Florida Republicans that are closely aligned with President Donald Trump.

“President [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. The governor was able to claim victory after 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.

The detainee's bunk beds are seen inside Homeland Security's Willacy Detention Center, a facility with 10 giant tents that can house up to 2000 detained illegal immigrants, 10 May 2007 in Raymondville, Texas. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards/Getty Images

The detainee’s bunk beds are seen inside Homeland Security’s Willacy Detention Center, a facility with 10 giant tents that can house up to 2000 detained illegal immigrants, 10 May 2007 in Raymondville, Texas. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards/Getty Images

Over 100,000 illegal immigrants were either 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. (RELATED: CBP Chief: Border Patrol Has Made 2,500 Migrant Rescues This Year Alone)

“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 there have a higher capacity to hold them. Non-criminal migrant families are being flown to the California city and then bussed to various Border Patrol stations for processing.

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