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Ron DeSantis activates National Guard to reduce illegal immigration

By Sarah May on
 January 7, 2023

In direct response to a recent wave of migrants making their way to the Florida Keys, the state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has activated National Guard troops to support local governments as they attempt to deal with the influx, as The Hill reports.

The situation in the state has intensified in recent weeks, as Axios notes, with hundreds of arrivals from Cuba and Haiti have made their way by sea to the southernmost part of the Sunshine State.

DeSantis signs order

The executive order signed Friday by the governor mobilizes National Guard troops and also instructs law enforcement agencies and other governmental entities to provide local governments with the necessary resources and assistance required to deal with the migrant surge.

As a result of the move, Florida will have the ability to deploy National Guard helicopters and airplanes and will also be able to enhance marine patrols through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to facilitate interdictions via water and help ensure migrant safety.

In a statement announcing his order, DeSantis said, “As the negative impacts of Biden's lawless immigration policies continue unabated, the burden of the Biden administration's failure falls on local law enforcement who lack the resources to deal with the crisis.”

The governor continued, “That is why I am activating the National Guard and directing state resources to help alleviate the strain on local resources.”

“When Biden continues to ignore his legal responsibilities,” DeSantis said, “we will step in to support our communities.”

Arrivals raise concerns

The action taken by DeSantis comes just one week after officials noted the arrival of no fewer than 500 migrants at the Florida Keys during New Year's weekend, according to The Hill.

A staggering 300 of those individuals made their landing inside Dry Tortugas National Park and their presence in such numbers forced its temporary closure.

As Axios further noted, the Coast Guard has suggested that migrant encounters recorded in the Miami sector alone have risen by 400% just since October.

The statement from the governor's office announcing the deployment indicated that over 8,000 migrants have been encountered in Florida's coastal waters since August, according to federal, state, and local authorities.

Texas "stepping up"

The Florida governor's National Guard authorization does not mark the first time a state's chief executive has taken similar action in response to an uncontrollable influx of migrants.

Back in July, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order of his own permitting the National Guard in his state to assist in the apprehension of illegal immigrants and facilitating their return to the border.

Citing historic levels of illegal crossings, Abbott declared the crisis in overwhelmed border towns to be untenable and blamed the Biden administration for the situation.

"While President Biden refuses to do his job and enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, the State of Texas is once again stepping up and taking unprecedented action to protect Americans and secure our southern border," Abbott said.

"Reckless policies" blamed

Former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) also previously authorized National Guard troops to assist with the migrant influx at his state's southern border back in 2021 after having declared a state of emergency in four counties. He ultimately extended their mission for another year, citing what he called "an escalating man-made crisis," as the Arizona Republic reported at the time.

"Law enforcement is overwhelmed. The situation is out of control. This situation is the direct result of reckless policies," Ducey said when announcing the move. "The brave men and women of the Arizona National Guard are standing in the gaps."

After long ignoring pleas from Republicans – and some Democrats – to visit the nation's southern border and start addressing the record-breaking numbers of illegal immigrants flooding into the country, President Joe Biden will finally travel to the El Paso, Texas area next week, but whether the trip will yield any appreciable shift in the administration's approach to the problem, only time will tell.