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Miami Lakes to honor Florida State Guard for controversial Texas Border Operation

Men in military camo uniforms stand over a body lying on a grassy field.
Members of the Florida State Guard train in critical care and medical transport.

The Town of Miami Lakes in Northwest Miami-Dade County on Tuesday is honoring the Florida State Guard for a controversial operation that took place more than 800 miles from Florida’s border.

Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid will present a proclamation at 5:30 p.m. to honor the state guard — a state-funded force supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis — for its help in Operation Lone Star, an immigration control mission at the Texas-Mexico border pushed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

“We are incredibly proud of the Florida State Guard and their tireless service during Operation Lone Star,” said Mayor Manny Cid in a statement ahead of the event. “This proclamation is representation [sic] of our deep appreciation for their unwavering dedication and the positive impact they have made.”

Operation Lone Star has come under fire for alleged “inhumane” treatment of migrants by Texas National Guard members. A medic for the Texas Department of Public Safety reported seeing Texas soldiers pushing a 4-year-old migrant girl back into a field of razor wire, among other violent incidents at the Rio Grande, as reported by the Miami Herald and the Houston Chronicle.

READ MORE: 'We needed to leave': One migrant family's harrowing journey from Venezuela to Miami

DeSantis sent hundreds of personnel to Texas in June to take part in Operation Lone Star to assist Texas in its battle with the federal government over undocumented immigrants entering the country. DeSantis was criticized, even by a member of his own party, for spending state taxpayer dollars so far outside of Florida for what was seen as a political stunt.

Cid, Miami Lakes’ mayor, said his decision to honor the Florida State Guard members for their service came out of conversations with his friends who served in the operation.

Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid
Courtesy of Manny Cid
Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid

“I wanted to recognize them because three of them in particular I know very well, and they talked about their journey in Texas and all the time they spent out there serving our state and our nation,” Cid told WLRN in an interview on Tuesday.

Cid said just one of those state guard members lives in Miami Lakes: Florida State Rep. Tom Fabricio.

Fabricio told WLRN that Operation Lone Star was a multi-agency effort, in which the state sent personnel from multiple groups including the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida State Guard to Texas.

Cid said he was not aware about the allegations against the Texas National Guard, but denied that guard members from Florida took part in any inhumane conduct based on what he’s heard from his friends involved. He said the Florida State Guard contingent was just responsible for building a fence to secure the border.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said in an email that Florida personnel were there to augment the presence of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and were not responsible for inhumane conduct.

"No Florida State Guard or other Florida personnel deployed to Texas were involved with the alleged incident that you described," a division spokesperson told WLRN.

Fabricio explained the State Guard's mission was to patrol the fence around the border and to deploy "Concertina " or "C wire," a type of razor wire.

A website for the purchase of Concertina wire describes it thusly: "Rigid and sharp blade frightens or hurt [sic] any person or animal that want to go through concertina wire fence."

The real issue at the border, according to Cid, is human trafficking — something he says he’s seen firsthand in Miami-Dade County.

“The saddest part about this immigration issue is it’s turned into a trafficking issue. The real victims here are those migrants that are being trafficked through the border,” he said. “I’ve met many families who have gone through the journey and I think it’s terrible what’s happening to them.”

Immigration and border security has been a hot-button topic in this year's presidential race. President Joe Biden and his administration have been struggling to show voters that it has a handle on immigration and border security. Former President Donald Trump, who's made immigration a key election year issue, has starkly criticized Biden, saying he's responsible for the problems at the border.

Cid, a Republican, is currently running for Miami-Dade County Mayor, a nonpartisan position. He said the proclamation has nothing to do with his campaign. He said he would have honored the guard regardless of his bid for the county seat.

Joshua Ceballos is WLRN's Local Government Accountability Reporter and a member of the investigations team. Reach Joshua Ceballos at jceballos@wlrnnews.org
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