By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Texas shouldn’t be allowing illegal immigrants to enter the state, echoing sentiments conservative Texans have been arguing for over a year.
“What Texas needs to do is just send them [illegal immigrants] back across the border,” Gov. DeSantis said at a recent press conference in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. “Who cares what the Feds are saying. They aren’t doing their job.
“Texas shouldn’t let them come across the border to begin with. They just walk right across the river,” he added. “No one is stopping them.”
He gave his remarks nearly one year after he first traveled to Del Rio, Texas. Last July, he met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state and local law enforcement to discuss border security efforts and authorized Florida officials to participate in the state’s border security initiative, Operation Lone Star.
But what happened, Gov. DeSantis said, was Texas “let them come across and released them to the Feds and then the Feds just release them anyways.”
“Some push back would be good,” he added. “And I would send people to help with that if that is what was done and it was really making a difference.
“But to just stop somebody, hand off to Border Patrol and then the Border Patrol releases them, I’d much rather have our folks here to protect Floridians.”
Gov. DeSantis is referring to a standard practice of Texas law enforcement not preventing people from stepping foot on Texas soil after they watch them cross the Rio Grande River. He’s not referring to OLS operations involving law enforcement pursuing alleged criminals in high-speed car chases or of thwarting cartel driven human and drug smuggling.
In Del Rio, McAllen and other areas at the Texas-Mexico border, for example, The Center Square repeatedly observed Texas DPS officers positioned at specific locations, waiting for illegal immigrants to cross the river. Once they arrive, the officers call Border Patrol and wait with them on the side of a road until Border Patrol agents come to transport them to a nearby processing center.
If the Remain in Mexico policy were being enforced, the majority entering Texas illegally would be returned to Mexico. Instead, the administration has instructed that they be processed and released into the U.S. with some exceptions. It’s also working with nongovernmental organizations to transport them throughout the U.S. Florida sued over the policy arguing it blatantly violates federal immigration law.
Gov. DeSantis said he believes Florida will win the lawsuit. He also says Texas’ approach isn’t deterring illegal immigration.
Gov. Abbott claims he’s doing what President Biden won’t and Texans are paying to secure the border, which isn’t their responsibility. The Texas legislature has allocated more than $4 billion to border security so far, something no state legislature has ever done. Texas is also building its own wall, which no other governor or state has ever done in U.S. history. Texas has also sued the administration numerous times and continues to win cases.
While state and local officials participating in OLS are actively thwarting criminal activity, the Texas Military Department’s role has received significant criticism, prompting Gov. Abbott to replace its leader earlier this year.
Gov. Abbott’s also received ongoing criticism from conservatives for busing illegal immigrants to Washington, D.C. Instead, they’ve called on him to close ports of entry, to direct Texas National Guard members to prevent illegal entry under a clear commander’s intent, to invoke the U.S. Constitution and declare an invasion to protect Texas sovereignty, and take other measures, which he hasn’t done. When asked, his office won’t address the specific questions but says he’s doing more than any other governor to secure the border.
Gov. DeSantis said, “we are fighting Biden on the border too,” referring to several lawsuits Florida’s filed. To critics who say, “you’re not a border state, what do you care,” he said “… we have a responsibility to be fighting back.”
Gov. DeSantis will soon sign a bill into law imposing penalties on those who work with the federal government to transport illegal immigrants to Florida and will soon have access to $12 million to reroute incoming illegal immigrants north, he said.
“If he sends a caravan [of illegal immigrants] to Florida,” Gov. DeSantis said of the president, “we’re rerouting it to places like Delaware and other sanctuary states.”
While the Biden administration maintains the southern border is closed, a record number of people from over 150 countries continues to pour through. Currently en route to the U.S. is a caravan of nearly 10,000 people who claim they’re coming because President Biden promised to give them asylum.
“And what is Biden doing?” Gov. DeSantis asked. “He’s fumbling around on late night TV shows? He needs to get in the game here and he needs to defend our country’s sovereignty.”
The caravan is “absolutely going to overwhelm” Texas and “a lot of other communities throughout the United States of America,” he said.