Gov. Ron DeSantis announces at a June 26 campaign event in Eagle Pass, Texas, his plan to tackle undocummented immigration if he wins the 2024 presidential election. Photo credit: Rumble
Just days before Florida’s newest and most restrictive immigration law takes effect, Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged to allow states and localities to enforce immigration laws if he were elected president, including deporting undocumented people.
Strengthening the nations’ border security would be DeSantis’ day one priority if he got to the White House, he said at a campaign event in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas. Whether by cooperation with Congress or executive action, DeSantis said he would call for the use of force against people attempting to cross the border.
“If they have drugs in these backpacks, and they’re cutting through an enforced structure we’re just supposed to let them in?” he said. “I say use force to repel them. If you do that one time, they will never do it again.”
The magnitude of border crossings in Texas give the state the right to declare an invasion, making widespread deportations necessary, DeSantis said. His plans to accomplish the task would deputize state and local government officials to deport undocumented people. The governor did not provide many details.
But U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s report doesn’t reflect the characterization of unprecedented lawlessness at the southern border. There has been a 15% decrease of crossings at ports of entry from May of last year, according to the agency.
Describing immigration as an invasion is meant to elicit a violent response, said Thomas Kennedy, who works with the Florida Immigrant Coalition. While DeSantis’ word choice is disgusting to Kennedy, it is also inaccurate, he said. Since the end of the Trump administration policy to swiftly deport millions of immigrants under Title 42, there have been fewer crossings, according to CBP. The agency’s May report stated that more than half of their encounters occurred prior to the lifting of the policy on May 11.
“To have a presidential candidate saying, ‘We have people going across the border, we need to stop the invasion,’” Kennedy said. “It’s insane.”
The governor also boasted that Florida’s law, which the state will start enforcing on July 1, requires certain employers to verify the immigration status of employees and make it a felony to knowingly bring undocumented people across state lines.
Using the power of the presidency, DeSantis would also declare foreign drug cartels as terrorist organizations to unleash greater federal power against the cartels, he said.
“We’re going to be leaning in against these drug cartels,” DeSantis said. “I think that they’re killing a lot of Americans. They’re effectively in control of this border to begin with and part of the reason it’s gotten this way is they don’t get any push-back.”
The governor referenced fentanyl overdoses in his remarks.
However, refusing to cooperate with immigration enforcement agencies would result in loss of federal funds if DeSantis won the 2024 election, he said. He criticized cities and counties across 11 states that he said violate the law by serving as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Ultimately, DeSantis pointed blame at the Biden administration and both Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C. for refusing to enforce immigration laws.
States failed at interfering with how the Biden administration handles immigration. The U.S. Supreme Court decided on June 23 that Texas and Louisiana had no legal standing to stop the administration’s guidelines, which are now focusing on deporting people with criminal backgrounds or who have recently crossed the border without authorization.
The Democratic National Committee condemned DeSantis’ plans, calling them “hollow talking points.”
“Ron DeSantis has repeatedly used young children and families as pawns in his shallow political stunts to pander to the MAGA base,” DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa said in a statement. “This latest plan is more of the same – political gimmicks that are merely an echo of the same cruel and callous policies of the Trump administration that broke our immigration system.”
The rhetoric DeSantis continues to use against immigrants is dangerous, said Mario Carrillo, a Texas-based campaign manager for immigrant’s rights nonprofit America’s Voice. The proposals he announced coupled with the economic and community harm Florida’s new immigration law is causing before it even takes effect won’t advance solutions for the broken immigration system, she said.
“They are all just ugly and unworkable anti-immigrant red meat to keep the MAGA base inflamed and all ‘justified’ by advancing false and dangerous white nationalist rhetoric that has a mounting body count, including in Texas,” Carrillo said.
Image Credits: Eric Gay/AP