DeSantis sending Florida Nat'l Guard, cops to Mexico border

Up to 1,100 Florida National Guard soldiers, state troopers, Fish and Wildlife officers and other law agents along with boats, airplanes and drones are poised to patrol the Texas border with Mexico as soon as Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.

“We stand by ready to help with that because I think what you are seeing is going to be really, really bad, potentially very shortly,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Broward County.

The governor’s decision came two weeks after President Biden ordered 1,500 active troops to the border for 90 days as his administration anticipates a surge of migrants following the expiration of Title 42, a COVID-19 pandemic law that restricted entry to the United States.

The administration also established new restrictions on who qualifies for asylum.

Although the president predicted a huge surge of migrants trying to cross the border, so far that largely hasn’t happened, according to reports from the scene.

The governor’s office in a news release said DeSantis is ready to send 800 Florida National Guard soldiers, 200 Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents and 101 state troopers, and 20 state emergency management personnel. He also put five airplanes, two mobile command vehicles and their teams, 17 drones and support teams and 10 airboats and shallow keep boats at the ready.

“Given the crisis at the border, Florida decided to send the cavalry,” said Taryn Fenske, communications director for the governor. “Law enforcement agencies and their counterparts have been in contact with Texas officials for over a week. Governor DeSantis won’t let bureaucracy stand in the way of border security.”

DeSantis’ Democratic opponents called it yet another political stunt, such as when the governor flew 49 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard at taxpayer expense and he sent Florida law enforcement to the Texas and Arizona borders two years ago.

“Governor DeSantis continues to waste taxpayer money on issues happening in other states, offering no real solutions to problems to Floridians on problems like housing affordability or property insurance,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. “All he cares about is appealing to his Republican base and this is another performative example of that.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement paid at least $1.6 million to send about 100 officers to the Texas and Arizona borders in 2021, the Miami Herald reported. That only accounted for FDLE’s costs, and not the other agencies that sent officers to those states.

State law enforcement officers encountered 9,171 undocumented immigrants with 3% of those contacts resulting in arrests, according to information the governor’s office provided to the Herald.

On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to fellow governors blasting President Joe Biden and asking for support.

“In the federal government’s absence, we, as governors, must band together to combat President Biden’s ongoing border crisis and ensure the safety and security that all Americans deserve,” he wrote in the letter.

DeSantis said the move is happening under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to provide resources to other states during an emergency and get reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Florida and Texas are part of that agreement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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