Congressional Democrats urge Ron DeSantis to support security aid in Haiti

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Debbie Wasserman Schultz urge the GOP Governor to support a Multinational Security Support mission.

Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation want Gov. Ron DeSantis siding with them on funding security measures in Haiti.

U.S. Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Debbie Wasserman Schultz led a letter to the Republican Governor professing a shared concern that a mass migration from the island will impact Florida. But while DeSantis has focused on stopping the arrival of migrants, the lawmakers say they need his support for federal spending to curb gang violence on the island nation.

“To curb the mass migration of Haitians desperately fleeing Haiti, we must address the root cause of the migration,” the letter states.

The letter was co-signed by all Democrats representing Florida in Congress, including U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel, Maxwell Frost, Jared Moskowitz, Darren Soto and Frederica Wilson.

The message describes the situation on the ground in Haiti, where 80% of Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, has fallen under gang control.

“Last year alone, there were nearly 5,000 murders, 2,000 kidnappings, and more than 310,000 people who had been internally displaced,” the letter reads. “Gangs have weaponized sexual violence against women and young girls and have threatened to start a civil war. Approximately 1.4 million Haitians are nearing famine. Finally, about 4,000 gang members were freed from Haitian jails during a mass jailbreak.”

The letter noted that President Joe Biden’s administration supports establishing a Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission that would financially back a United Nations-supported police force led by Kenyan authorities to re-establish law and order on the island.

Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Jamaica and Benin have all agreed to support the effort. But to date, Republicans in Congress have blocked the release of any funding.

Democrats in the delegation suggested that the Republican Governor’s support could sway his former colleagues in the House.

Cherfilus-McCormick, a Miramar Democrat, has described her own parents’ experience fleeing Haiti decades ago. She said the gang violence overtaking the island must be addressed with foreign intervention.

“As the only Haitian American in Congress and Co-Chair of the Congressional Haiti Caucus, I know the suffering of the Haitian people firsthand,” Cherfilus-McCormick said. “The stability of Haiti is in the national security interest of the United States. Congressional Republicans need to release their hold on funds for Haiti’s security and stability, in order to prevent mass migration to Florida.”

Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Co-Chair of the delegation, said the money needs to be released by Congress to help Florida.

“As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I have consistently advocated for assistance to support Haitians suffering from poverty and violence and strengthen Haiti’s governance and law enforcement. Those efforts are needed now more than ever,” the Weston Democrat said.

“It is unfortunate that Republicans have delayed efforts to secure Haiti’s civilian population. It is equally heartbreaking that most of the guns being used by gangs to terrorize Haitians are manufactured in the U.S. and illegally trafficked out of Florida.”

According to the Migration Policy Institute, U.S. authorities encountered more than 76,100 Haitians at the U.S. Mexico border in the 2023 fiscal year. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard interdicted 5,100 Haitians at sea in the first 11 months of the fiscal year. Numbers have increased dramatically since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

Regardless of how migrants enter the U.S., most end up in Florida. Nearly 488,000 Haitians live in Florida, more than 2% of the state’s population, according to World Population Review. That’s roughly 47% of all Haitians in the U.S.

Recent violence led to the resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Ronald Reagan, Jr.

    March 21, 2024 at 10:12 am

    Jacob…pre-dating your attempted hit piece against the Governor and propping up Democrats is the truth that flights are already arriving. Yikes…why do you suck so bad as a “journalist”? (Politico ran this yesterday, and many news outlets this morning on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged the Governor’s efforts in Israel and now Haiti).

    • rick whitaker

      March 22, 2024 at 3:11 pm

      ronald reagan jr., i disagree with your post. it was a good article. if you’re looking for fluff articles propping up the poor performance of desantis, then go to steve bannon or other ,maga only served here, type sites. everything desantis does is performative and usually backfires on him. the king of pandering does not get much good legitimate media coverage. the legitimate media sees him for what he really is, and it ain’t good.

  • rick whitaker

    March 21, 2024 at 10:13 am

    thanks for the info. i didn’t realize how many haitians live in florida. that should make it easier to bring in more haitians that want a safe place to live. wait a minute, i was thinking that florida would be a safe place for the haitian refugees to live, no it isn’t . too many christians in florida, so it is a dangerous gun-ridden hell hole, full of greedy, racist, haters. florida needs to get it’s act together and run the pirates ( christians ) out of florida. bring more haitians in, we need more workers.

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