Over the weekend, U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Miami Sector along with support from U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations, U.S. Coast Guard, and local law enforcement partners responded to five maritime smuggling events in southern Florida which resulted in the arrest of 32 Cuban noncitizens.  

Florida Gov. DeSantis Admin Says Homeowners Not Responsible For Abandoned Migrant Vessels

The state of Florida says homeowners are not responsible for abandoned vessels left behind by migrants coming to the shore.
Cubran Migrants In FLorida Waters (USCG)

The state of Florida says homeowners are not responsible for abandoned vessels left behind by migrants coming to the shore.

WSVN in Miami reported on Tuesday that homeowners in South Florida are being told they are responsible for removing the rickety watercraft left by illegals who wash ashore on their property.

As Florida Keys resident Jack Bartkus told the station, “The police then told me that they thought there would be about 20 people that rode on this boat from Cuba, and they took the people into custody, and they didn’t do anything with the boat. They left it here, and they just discarded it, so it became my problem.” 

Sure enough, a code enforcement officer arrived and told Bartkus he was responsible for cleaning the boat before having it hauled off. If he didn’t and fuel leaked into the water, Bartkus would be guilty of an environmental crime. And if just pushed it out to sea, the homeowner could be hit with a felony, presuming for creating a danger to others on the water.

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Said Bartkus: “It’s unfair. Totally unfair. But of course, now the cost of all of this is on me.”

WSVN reported that last month, the city drafted a letter that told homeowners: “If any vessel ends up on your private property [it] becomes your problem. This rule of law is both inconvenient and a bit expensive, but it is the law.”

The station added that state wildlife officials confirmed that was the law.

The station also noted that illegal arrivals in the Keys are up 350% from last year, with more than 800 people coming ashore since Christmas.

Bartkus spent $2,500 to have the illegals’ boat hauled off.

On Wednesday, DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin tweeted that homeowners do not have to bear that cost.

“There were reports of Florida homeowners potentially bearing the cost of removing vessels abandoned by individuals entering the country illegally via Florida. Please note, the state of Florida will remove these vessels,” Griffin tweeted.

He also retweeted a notice from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which provided a number to call to report an abandoned vessel — 888-404-3922 — and reiterated that property owners are not responsible for removing abandoned boats.
Twitter Screengrab

He also retweeted a notice from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which provided a number to call to report an abandoned vessel — 888-404-3922 — and reiterated that property owners are not responsible for removing abandoned boats.

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“The state will remove these vessels for you free of charge,” the division said, citing an executive order DeSantis signed last week that empowered state officials to take numerous steps to deal with any emergency created by the “Biden Border Crisis.”

The order noted DeSantis needed to take action because “mass migration of unauthorized aliens, including the associated abandonment of vessels, without appropriate support from the federal government, has created an unmanageable strain on local resources and will continue to overburden the capabilities of local governments throughout the state.”

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