TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that he is deploying more than 1,100 state law enforcement officers and National Guard members to the Texas-Mexico border. That figure is 10 times higher than a similar move in 2021 and comes just weeks before he is expected to take office as president.
DeSantis had signaled for weeks that he was preparing an announcement on immigration, while rekindling his bickering on the subject with President Joe Biden, whose administration recently allowed the phasing out of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that banned the It was easier to deport migrants.
“The impact of Biden’s border crisis is being felt by communities across the country, and the federal government’s waiver undermines our country’s sovereignty and the rule of law,” DeSantis said in a statement.
What DeSantis will send:
- 800 members of the Florida National Guard;
- 200 agents (in teams of 40) from the State Department of Law Enforcement;
- 101 state highway patrol soldiers;
- 20 agents from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Department of Emergency Management;
- 5 fixed-wing aircraft;
- 17 unmanned drones;
- 10 watercraft.
The DeSantis office said personnel will remain at the border for 30 days, with possible extensions. The announcement comes just weeks before the start of the June hurricane season.
In June 2021, DeSantis dispatched just over 100 law enforcement officers to Florida over a six-week period to help with what he then called the “southern border disaster under the Biden administration.” These officers came primarily from the Florida Highway Patrol, the Department of Law Enforcement, and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Florida staff were dispatched to the case after Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott filed a request for an Emergency Management Assistance Compact, prompting Republican governors across the country to send state resources to the southern border.
Abbott said in a statement Tuesday shortly after DeSantis’ announcement that he had sent letters to all 50 governors asking for “assistance in responding to the ongoing border crisis.”
In its request for state support, Texas requested that the states pay for the costs associated with the mission.
Taryn Fenske, DeSantis communications director, said, “Given the crisis at the border, we have decided to deploy the cavalry.” She told NBC News that law enforcement agencies in Florida and Texas have been in touch for over a week.
“We didn’t want bureaucracy to get in the way of border security,” she added.
In the past few weeks, DeSantis has once again increased its focus on immigration. Last week he signed a measure aimed at barring migrants from coming to Florida, just a day before Title 42 expires.
In January, he signed an executive order deploying the Florida National Guard to respond to hundreds of Cuban migrants arriving in South Florida. That’s on top of the more than $20 million the Republican-dominated legislature has given him to help expand a migrant transportation program that sparked controversy last September when it served to transport 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to an unsuspecting Martha’s Vineyard.
Additionally, DeSantis devoted more time to immigration issues during public appearances, even when the events were unrelated. For example, on Friday he opened a press conference on the signing of the Banking Act with comments on Title 42.
“Biden can’t just release all of these people in our country who are here illegally,” DeSantis said Friday. “Maybe it will make them look inside and say, ‘Maybe we can start doing our job and protect the American people.'”
The focus on immigration comes against the political backdrop that DeSantis is about to launch a presidential campaign.
NBC News has reported that the announcement is expected to come in the next few weeks, in part because DeSantis’ political organization has relocated its headquarters. This move prompted them to spend federal campaign funds, giving them 15 days to file papers with the Federal Elections Commission.