Florida is sending law enforcement to curb illegal immigration at the southern border, with Gov. Ron DeSantis blaming the Biden administration’s immigration policies for an increase in crime nationally and across the state.
Speaking in Pensacola Wednesday, DeSantis said Florida is the first state to answer calls from the governors of Texas and Arizona, both Republicans, to increase law enforcement activity at the nation’s border with Mexico. The Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and several sheriffs’ offices have already agreed to send officials.
DeSantis and Republicans say President Joe Biden‘s changes to immigration policy is leading to violent crime and drug-related crimes involving fentanyl and methamphetamines. Biden has terminated “catch and release” and terminated former President Donald Trump‘s “remain in Mexico” policies, he added.
Florida’s rising crime isn’t “organic to Florida,” the Governor continued, noting that it’s particularly increased over the last six months.
“This was a crisis created by going against policies that would be working just ’cause you don’t like your predecessor,” DeSantis said.
Florida is thousands of miles from the Mexico border, the Governor acknowledged. But criminal activity stemming from illegal border crossings endangers communities and increases recidivism, he continued.
“It’s (unlike) anything anyone’s ever seen down there. You have caravans that are making their way and pouring across the border. You absolutely have the cartels that are taking full advantage of what is going on down near our southern border,” DeSantis said.
The Biden administration has turned its back on law enforcement, he said. On Tuesday, he told reporters that places in Florida seeing an uptick in crime have similarly turned their backs on law enforcement or adopted “soft on crime” policies.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, part of the law enforcement delegation visiting Pensacola to back the Governor’s message, painted a dire picture.
“This administration has opened the floodgates to our country,” he said. “They’ve allowed illegals to come into our country and with them, they are bringing victims of human trafficking, they are bringing fentanyl by the truckloads, they are taking everything that our ICE and customs partners can take, they’re throwing it at them, and our law enforcement partners out there are overburdened.”
Thursday’s move is the latest DeSantis and Republicans in Florida have taken in recent months to tackle immigration. Attorney General Ashley Moody in March filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration to block it from stopping deportations.
On Wednesday, she said Biden’s policies have taken “a wrecking ball” to the nation’s law enforcement infrastructure.
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Mexico this month on a tour of Latin America targeting corruption, smuggling and trafficking. That’s not enough, the Attorney General suggested.
“This is what real leadership looks like,” Moody said, referring to DeSantis’ call to arms and law enforcement’s response. “Leadership is not sending someone down there to beg people not to come.”
The move follows a letter from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey sent to the nation’s 48 other governors Thursday requesting assistance at the border. The governors of California and New Mexico, the other two border states, are Democrats.
Florida will likely send an undecided number of personnel for 16 days to perform a variety of functions. The state may also send supplies like drones.
DeSantis gave no timeline for when details would become available.
In the past, Florida has sent personnel to California to fight wildfires and to Louisiana for hurricane relief. Other states have even assisted Florida in the past.
“There’s certain disaster emergency situations where we just tend to step up and help one another, so that’s what we’re doing here,” DeSantis said.