Florida sending troops, officers to Texas
Governor's Press Office File Photo from 2019
By Jim Turner
News Service of Florida
May 16, 2023
TALLAHASSEE --- Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said Florida “stands ready” and will send Florida National Guard troops and law-enforcement officers to Texas to help with border control as he nears an expected announcement of a White House bid.
DeSantis’ office said in a news release Tuesday afternoon that 800 members of the Florida National Guard, along with Florida Highway Patrol troopers, Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers were available and ready to deploy within 24 hours.
In 2021, DeSantis responded to a request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and then-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey by sending more than 50 Florida law-enforcement officers to Texas. The deployment was announced as part of the mutual-aid effort to protect Florida, in part because of drugs crossing the border and ending up in Florida.
During an appearance Tuesday before his office’s news release, DeSantis criticized the Biden administration’s handling of immigration issues and said he had offered personnel, boats and planes to assist Texas with migrants trying to come into the country.
“We're staying on them (the Biden administration), the state of Florida is, because it's a really important issue to actually have sovereignty in our country and have the rule of law upheld,” DeSantis said during a bill-signing event in Lighthouse Point.
On Monday, Pensacola-based U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell denied a motion by the Biden administration to stay a temporary restraining order that blocked a federal immigration policy that could lead to large numbers of migrants being released into the country. Wetherell’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
In the news release Tuesday, DeSantis’ office cited what is known as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, an agreement in which states can provide resources to each other in times of emergency.
Earlier this month, Biden sent 1,500 U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border for a 90-day deployment in anticipation of an increase in immigration as a COVID-19 border restriction known as Title 42 was ending. Those troops were sent to supplement the work of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and not carry out law enforcement, according to the Pentagon.
Asked about the border Sunday while in Delaware, Biden said things were much “better than you all expected” and that the numbers of migrants seeking asylum were going down, according to a White House transcript.
“Well, look, they are --- they have gone down,” Biden said. “My hope is they’ll continue to go down, but we have more --- a lot more work to do. And we need some more help from the Congress as well in terms of funding and legislative changes.”
In addition to sending troops and law-enforcement officers, the DeSantis administration news release Tuesday said Florida would make available five fixed-wing airplanes, two mobile command vehicles, 17 drones and 10 marine vessels, such as airboats and shallow-draft vessels.
DeSantis, who is widely expected to announce a run for the presidency, and Moody have long criticized Biden’s border policies. They argue, in part, that undocumented immigrants coming into Florida create costs for services such as schools, health care and prisons.
Moody has filed two federal lawsuits in Pensacola against the Biden administration about immigration policies. That included the case that led to Wetherell issuing a temporary restraining order Thursday against a policy known as “parole with conditions.”
The Biden administration issued the policy to help address an expected surge of migrants coming into the country because of the expiration of the Title 42 order.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday called Wetherell’s ruling “harmful,” accused Republican elected officials of “political stunts” and said “they don't want to solve this problem. They want to use it, again, as a campaign tool for them.”
DeSantis signed controversial legislation last week that stepped up requirements on businesses to check the immigration status of workers, cracked down on people who bring undocumented immigrants into Florida and required data on whether hospital patients are in the country legally.