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Florida governor protests 'dumping' of migrants

An asylum seeker in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, rests while waiting his turn to present himself to US border authorities and request asylum, in April 2019 (AFP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

Miami (AFP) - Florida's governor decried Friday what he called a plan to send undocumented migrants to his southeastern US state to relieve overcrowding at the southern border with Mexico, a claim immigration authorities denied.

Florida officials including Governor Ron DeSantis said the state can't cope with the 1,000 undocumented migrants they anticipate federal authorities will send each month to two counties near Miami.

"We cannot accommodate in Florida the dumping of unlawful migrants into our state," DeSantis told a press conference, adding he will raise the issue with President Donald Trump.

"I think it will tax our resources, our schools, the health care, law enforcement, state agencies," he said, as cited by The Miami Herald.

A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official denied the reports, telling AFP: "We are not transporting any family units to Florida at this time."

The uproar began on Thursday, when Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw told reporters that federal authorities would be moving to his county migrants who've arrived in El Paso, Texas on the border with Mexico.

The immigrants will be families applying for asylum who are to be released as they wait for their cases to go through immigration court, Bradshaw said.

"It's not a good plan. We think it's a danger to our community, and it's gonna put a real strain on what the resources are," he said, adding that there are "no accommodations for transportation, no accommodations for shelter or (a) place to live."

Palm Beach County Mayor Mack Bernard said if the relocation plan is carried out, an "emergency" will have to be declared.

While the two counties the migrants were said to be destined for -- Palm Beach and Broward -- are Democratic-leaning localities situated just north of Miami, DeSantis is a Republican and a supporter of Trump's hardline immigration policies.

He recently signed into law a measure that bans in Florida "sanctuary cities," where local police don't cooperate with immigration authorities.

Almost half a million people have been stopped at the southern US border since October.

Most migrants who cross the US-Mexico border without authorization surrender to authorities and file for asylum.

Overcrowding at emergency shelters has forced authorities to release some migrants from detention as they await a review of their asylum applications.