Governor Ron DeSantis wants $8M to fund a new program that will allow Florida to contract with private companies to transport “unauthorized aliens” out of Florida. He spoke about the plan in broad terms on Friday. This is the latest move in a continuing battle with the Biden administration over relocating illegal migrants away from the southern border.
During the summer months, DeSantis sent Florida law enforcement officers and equipment to Texas, in response to Governor Abbott’s request for help from other states in managing the flood of migrants crossing the southern border. At the end of November, Florida taxpayers had spent at least $1.6 million on that mission.
The seven-week trip, led by three state agencies, was cast by the Republican governor as a needed measure to beef up security at the border amid the failures of President Joe Biden’s administration, while critics saw the effort as a state-funded political errand used to further DeSantis’ national footprint ahead of a potential 2024 White House bid.
The Miami Herald reported earlier in November that the trip had cost taxpayers $570,988, but additional records released to the First Amendment Foundation and obtained by the Miami Herald show the actual cost was at least $1.6 million, a number that is still expected to grow.
Governor DeSantis already issued an executive order enlisting Florida’s law enforcement agencies to collect information on illegal immigrants relocated to Florida by the federal government. He has also filed a lawsuit against the federal government. This program is his latest move in trying to hold the Biden administration accountable for its lack of seriousness on security at the southern border. DeSantis says, maybe with tongue in cheek, that if Florida bussed illegal migrants to places like Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard, the southern border would be closed the next day.
The proposed program, which the governor wants to pay for with interest accrued from federal funds, and a “series” of incoming legislative bills that he says will fight “back against the Biden border crisis” are the latest battle lines drawn by a governor who appears to be drumming up a potential challenge against President Joe Biden in 2024.
“One of the priorities that we’ve been working on for many months now and we’ll continue to work with the Legislature when they get back is dealing with the fallout from the reckless border policies of the Biden administration,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Jacksonville on Friday.
DeSantis has said that Florida should be able to use buses to transport migrants to other parts of the country, like Delaware, a state Biden calls home.
“It’s somewhat tongue in cheek, but it is true,” DeSantis said Friday. “If you sent them to Delaware or Martha’s Vineyard or some of these places, that border would be secure the next day.” Martha’s Vineyard is an island south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
DeSantis didn’t offer much in the way of details for a new program. The program would have to be voted on in the Florida Legislature before it could be funded and put in place. The U.S. Treasury Department doesn’t have to approve such spending but a Treasury spokesperson said,” Treasury monitors expenses and expects governments to repay misused funds if they violate the terms of the Interim Final Rule, which dictates the purpose of the federal funds that are being proposed in the budget.”
In September, DeSantis signed an executive order for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to track flights coming into Jacksonville that may carry illegal immigrants from the southern border. It isn’t a criminal investigation but the public safety czar Larry Keefe said the governor’s efforts protect families and combat criminal cartels and smugglers. DeSantis said the flights have stopped now. He also asked different state agencies to research and publish the amount of state and local funds spent on providing health care and other services for illegal immigrants. There will be a website for publishing this information once the methodology to calculate the resources used by the state is finalized.
DeSantis was one of the first governors to speak out against DHS’s secret flights into both large and small airports landing in the middle of the night with illegal migrants on board. Some are reunited with family members or guardians and others travel on to other parts of the country. DeSantis, along with other governors, complain that local and state law enforcement is not notified about these flights ahead of time by DHS. The Biden administration moves illegal immigrants away from the southern border and transports them to other areas in the country. In Florida, Jacksonville is used as a hub for DHS.
The disaster of the Biden border crisis was brought to the attention of the nation when national media finally began to do some coverage of the flood of migrants crossing the border into Del Rio, Texas. Thousands had to be housed under an international bridge when the small city was overwhelmed by such a large number of migrants. This crisis served to encourage governors like DeSantis to speak out and do what they can to stop the crisis from coming to their states. The humanitarian and public health crisis of our open southern border doesn’t stay in Texas or Arizona or southern California. It moves across the country as people are moved around to ease the overcrowding and lack of resources at the border. The problems spread out. So, why not just bus the people to Delaware or other spots?
It’s an attention-grabbing proposal and that’s the point. While there’s little doubt that DeSantis is on the shortlist to run for president in 2024, he is also acting on behalf of the state he governs. The Biden administration has basically left states on their own to handle illegal immigration without providing the resources necessary to do so. Individual states don’t have the resources that the federal government has at it disposal. Immigration is a federal issue. The Biden administration wants it both ways – they slap down states like Texas and Florida at every opportunity over enforcement of immigration law while DHS turns a blind eye to assist states by delivering resources. Who is in charge here?
Where’s Kamala? Isn’t family reunification one of the jobs Biden gave her to do?
The governor is fighting back against private contractors who work with the federal government to transport migrants to Florida.
DeSantis had previously threatened to punish private transportation companies that helped the federal government transport migrants into Florida. On Nov. 9, he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that the state was looking at how to “fight back against contractors,” including denying them “access to the Florida market,” increasing their taxes and creating other disincentives.
On Friday, the governor appeared to follow through on that promise and said he intends to prioritize a bill that would “hold accountable private entities that knowingly or recklessly assist the Biden administration in resettling illegal immigrants into Florida.”
He said he has a list of companies that have aided the federal government and wants to target those that are “involved in facilitating” illegal migration into the state, but it is unclear how that would be defined in statute.
Texas is the epicenter of the Biden border crisis and Governor Abbott gets a lot of attention doing what he can to secure the southern border. DeSantis is doing the same in looking out for Florida’s security despite a lack of help from the federal government.
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