TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that he is sending more than 1,100 state law enforcement officers and National Guard members to the Texas-Mexico border. The number is a tenfold increase compared to a similar move in 2021, and it comes just weeks before his expected presidential launch.
DeSantis had signaled for weeks that he was preparing an immigration-focused ad as he reinvigorated his war of words on the issue with President Joe Biden, whose administration recently allowed the lapse of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that did easier to expel immigrants.
«Communities across the country are feeling the impacts of the Biden border crisis, and the federal government’s abdication of duty 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 officers (in teams of 40) from the state Law Enforcement Department;
- 101 state highway troopers;
- 20 agents from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Emergency Management;
- 5 fixed-wing aircraft;
- 17 unmanned drones;
- 10 floating boats.
DeSantis’ office said staff will be at the border for 30 days, with possible extensions. The announcement comes just weeks before the start of the hurricane season in June.
In June 2021, DeSantis dispatched just over 100 Florida law enforcement officers for six weeks to help with what he called at the time «a southern border catastrophe under the Biden Administration.» Those officers came mostly from the Florida Highway Patrol, the Department of Law Enforcement and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Florida staff in that case were dispatched after Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott made an Emergency Management Assistance Compact request, prompting Republican governors across the country to send state resources to the southern border.
Abbott said in a statement Tuesday shortly after DeSantis’s announcement that he sent letters to all 50 governors requesting «support in responding to the ongoing border crisis.»
In its request for assistance from the states, Texas requested that those states pay the costs associated with the mission.
DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, said that «given the crisis at the border, we decided to send in the cavalry.» She told NBC News that law enforcement agencies in Florida and Texas have been in contact for more than a week.
“We didn’t want red tape to get in the way of border security,” he added.
In recent weeks, DeSantis has once again broadened his focus on immigration. Last week, he signed a measure intended to discourage immigrants from coming to Florida, just one day before Title 42 was set to expire.
In January, he signed an executive order deploying the Florida National Guard to respond to the hundreds of Cuban immigrants arriving in South Florida. That’s in addition to more than $20 million the Republican-dominated Legislature has given it to help expand a migrant transportation program that sparked controversy last September when it was used to transport 50 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
Additionally, DeSantis has spent more time during public appearances on immigration, even when the events are unrelated. For example, he opened a Friday press conference held to sign banking legislation with Title 42 comments.
“Biden can’t just release all these people in our country who are here illegally,” DeSantis said Friday. «Maybe it’ll make them look inward and say, ‘Maybe we’ll start doing our job and protect the American people for a change.'»
The immigration focus comes against the political backdrop of DeSantis soon to launch a presidential campaign.
NBC News has reported that the announcement is likely to come within the next two weeks, in part because DeSantis’ political operation has moved its headquarters. That move led them to spend federal campaign funds, which will give them 15 days to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.