Experts don’t see a surge in undocumented immigrants in SWFL

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
Gov. Ron DeSantis is at odds with the Biden administration’s handling of immigration. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday there is an increase in undocumented workers in Florida.

Those who work with undocumented immigrants say they don’t doubt immigrants are coming to Florida, but they are not seeing a surge.

Local schools, hospitals and law enforcement say they don’t keep track of that information.

“This is absolutely a crisis. It’s a crisis of the administration’s own making,” DeSantis said during his announcement on Tuesday about suing the Biden administration over its immigration policies.

Are there signs of a sudden surge in undocumented immigrants in Southwest Florida?

Not to Pablo Hurtado, an immigration attorney in Fort Myers.

“There hasn’t been any more influx of immigration cases to my office than there has been across several years,” Hurtado said. “I think they’re dubious at best. I think this is a play to a political base that thrives on that kind of reaction.”

Hurtado said he doesn’t believe the governor’s fear is reality.

“Some of it is probably the policy but some of it is almost certainly the politics of it,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida.

Jewett said while Desantis doesn’t agree with Biden’s immigration policy, there’s a strategy behind the state deciding to sue his administration.

“When you see Governor DeSantis taking a lot of high profile positions against President Biden, it’s often with the thought he’s going to get some positive publicity with the Republican base and that it might help separate him in the Republican presidential nominating contest from other Republicans who are also running,” Jewett said.

Jewett said he doesn’t think the lawsuit has much chance in court.

The Pew Research Center estimates Florida is home to 775,000 undocumented immigrants.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office sent WINK News this statement on DeSantis’ lawsuit:

As a member of the National Sheriffs Association’s Border Security Committee and as the chief law enforcement officer of Collier County, Sheriff Rambosk steadfastly supports the Governor in his quest to reduce the number of illegal aliens coming into our state and he welcomes the opportunity to assist the Governor in this endeavor. The number of arrests of illegally present individuals by our deputies has increased this year. We attribute this to the current administration’s immigration and enforcement removal priorities, which have unfortunately increased the number of illegally present arrestees being released back into the community rather than being transferred to a detention facility to undergo lawful immigration hearings. Sheriff Rambosk believes that anyone coming into our country illegally to commit crimes, deal drugs or engage in gang activity should be removed to prevent further victimization of our residents, our businesses and our visitors.  In the past decade, we have significantly reduced our inmate population through our partnership with ICE in its 287(g) program.  We have also continuously reduced our crime numbers since the inception of this partnership.  Our 287(g) program currently operates in accordance with the current administration’s enforcement priorities, which are not in agreement with federal immigration laws as they are written.


illegally present individuals are being arrested for committing a wide variety of crimes in our community.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office did not provide numbers on how many undocumented immigrants they are arresting now.


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