DeSantis proposes $25M restoration of Miami’s ‘Ellis Island’

MIAMI (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing a $25 million investment to repair Miami’s Freedom Tower, a historic building also known as the “Ellis Island of the South,” where Cuban refugees received government help after leaving the communist island.

DeSantis said the amount will be included as part of his legislative budget recommendations. The Republican governor said the 96-year-old tower needs urgent structural repairs, but the money also will be used to redesign the exhibits to welcome more visitors.

“Hundreds of thousands of people came right through here, the Freedom Tower in Miami, to be able to have a chance at freedom,” DeSantis said. “We need to be good stewards of this history.”

The announcement came on the day of a planned opposition protest march Monday in Cuba. DeSantis called out the Biden administration for what he said was a lack of support for activists in Cuba following the July demonstrations.

In July, thousands of Cubans took to the streets to protest power outages, shortages, high prices and to denounce the government. The planned march on Monday was meant to demand that authorities release people arrested on July 11 and 12. The gathering was banned by the Cuban government, but organizers still urged people to demonstrate.

“You’ve had almost no support whatsoever from the Biden administration,” said DeSantis, who is up for reelection and considering a 2024 presidential run. “They are missing a historic opportunity to be able to make common cause with people who just want to be able to live in freedom.”

In July, the Biden administration announced new sanctions against Cuba’s national revolutionary police and its top two officials as the U.S. looked to increase pressure on the communist government.

Ellis Island in New York Harbor was the nation’s busiest immigration station and welcomed more than 12 million immigrants to American shores before it closed in 1954.

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