Homeland Security Not Relocating Migrants To Florida

Published: Monday, May 20, 2019 - 2:03pm
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MARK BRODIE: Reports surfaced late last week that Homeland Security planned to fly migrants from crowded parts of the Mexican border to places like Buffalo and Florida. People were transferred from Texas to California over the weekend, but then president said yesterday there are no plans to send people to Florida. Now the Sunshine State won't see what has been the reality for months here in Arizona: groups of migrant families dropped off by federal authorities. To dig into this some more, I'm joined by Matthew Casey from KJZZ's Fronteras Desk. Hey Matt.

MATTHEW CASEY: Hey Mark.

BRODIE: So when we last talked, aid groups reported there were fewer migrants coming to metro Phoenix. What is the latest on families being released here?

CASEY: Three people with ties to groups here in town that helped the migrants told me that last week was busier. There were more drop-offs. So you'll remember that when things were slower, some folks had started going to Yuma and transferring people back here. But I'm told that few if any trips were made last week, and of course, whether or not they happen really depends on room here. Space here.

BRODIE: All right. So Matt didn't I read a Washington Post article last week talking about a White House plan to round up and deport thousands of parents and kids?

CASEY: Yeah. That crackdown was supposed to happen in a handful of cities, but the Post didn't say if Phoenix would be one. It's kind of tough to tell if we would be because a lot of the migrants who are released here don't stay here, right? But I think the most important thing that we learned from that story was that resistance to that plan was a factor in Kirstjen Nielsen's departure as homeland security secretary. Steven Miller, the president's senior adviser on immigration, on the other hand — he backed that plan. He was big time behind it. So now Nielsen's gone and he's still there, and I think that says a lot about his level of influence. But that's not to say that it is unlimited. Again, according to the Post, Miller lost a power struggle late last week. The president sided with the now-acting homeland security secretary after he had threatened to quit over Miller's meddling.

BRODIE: Steven Miller is of course a polarizing immigration hardliner, the New York Times reported was strongly in favor of family separations. But didn't he also have a hand in the immigration proposal rolled out last week by the Trump administration?

CASEY: Well, Jared Kushner was the face of that proposal, which does seem dead on arrival to lawmakers. But Miller did play a role. He was important in that, and more reporting from the Post had him interrupting interrupting Kushner to respond to questions at a meeting with top Republicans. Some of the criticism of that plan has been that it didn't do anything to talk about or to respond to so-called "DREAMers" or millions of undocumented people who've been living here for years, right? But I think that's really another clue about how much influence Miller has, right? He backs the administration's view on DACA. They want it gone. And he also wants the government to deport as many undocumented people as it possibly can. So really, the reason why those issues weren't in the immigration plan is because the administration's plan for those particular groups isn't changing any time soon.

BRODIE: All right. So Stephen Miller's influence on immigration policy, especially as it relates to what the Trump administration ultimately does, clearly remain something to keep an eye on. What do you think it could mean in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election?

CASEY: Well, I think that really depends on a lot of things, right? Miller could be a huge deal or he could end up sidelined. You know, some questions that I have. Does the economy stay good and somebody somehow convince Trump to run on that instead of immigration? Does it go bad because of the trade war with China, and then he falls back on immigration and Miller's advice who he's seems to have turned to quite a bit so far in this term? What happens in Venezuela? How does North Korea conduct itself, and what comes of the saber-rattling with Iran, right? All of these issues could pull the president's attention away from immigration and Miller's advice.

BRODIE: All right. That is KJZZ's Matthew Casey. Matt, thank you.

CASEY: Thank you, Mark.

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