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Ron DeSantis signs major immigration crackdown order

By Jimmy Adeel
|
May 11, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took decisive action on illegal immigration, signing a strict immigration bill into law on Wednesday.

This proactive move came just a day before the expiration of Title 42, a public health law from the Trump era that permitted the rapid expulsion of border crossers without an opportunity to seek asylum, the Daily Mail reported. 

DeSantis on the Impending Border Crisis

With the end of Title 42, a significant surge in migrants crossing the southern border is anticipated.

DeSantis, a Republican who many expect will launch a presidential bid in the near future, did not mince words in his criticism of President Joe Biden at the signing ceremony.

"We are bracing for some turbulent times ahead," DeSantis declared, pointing to the administration's lax border policies as a potential catalyst for worsening conditions. He warned of a "massive surge of illegal aliens" and emphasized the responsibility to ensure border security.

DeSantis presented his remarks in front of a sign reading "Biden's Border Crisis," driving home his position that the current administration has failed to address border issues adequately.

Robust Immigration Policy 

The new law underscores DeSantis's commitment to a robust immigration policy.

It provides $12 million for the governor's migrant relocation initiative, which gained national prominence last year when DeSantis arranged for 50 primarily Venezuelan immigrants from Texas to be flown to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. 

Democrats have accused DeSantis of using vulnerable asylum-seekers as political pawns to score points with the Republican base. However, DeSantis maintains that he was drawing attention to the challenges posed by unchecked migration.

Increased Restrictions for Undocumented Immigrants

The new law also imposes stricter regulations on undocumented immigrants in Florida. The bill includes the following provisions:

  • Businesses with 25 or more employees are now required to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm the immigration status of workers. Previously, these businesses could use either E-Verify or I-9 forms since 2021.
  • The law increases criminal penalties for individuals or entities transporting undocumented immigrants into Florida. While aimed at curbing human smuggling, critics fear this could lead to the prosecution of family members or organizations such as churches.
  • Hospitals are now required to inquire about patients' citizenship or legal status in the country. They must report their findings to the state.
  • Law enforcement agencies must collect DNA samples from individuals detained on federal immigration orders. These samples will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Florida's Immigration Stance Amidst the End of Title 42

The impending expiration of Title 42, under which many border crossers were rapidly expelled to Mexico without a chance to seek asylum since March 2020, has caused alarm.

Daily migrant crossings have reportedly hit 10,000 a day ahead of the law's termination. Despite Florida not being situated near the country's southern border, DeSantis recognizes the state's role in the nation's immigration landscape.

He argued that he aims to eliminate any incentives that might encourage migrants to come to Florida. "People are going to come if they get benefits," DeSantis stated.

DeSantis's Criticism of Biden's Immigration Policy

DeSantis has consistently criticized Biden's handling of the migrant crisis. He believes the current predicament is "the responsibility of Joe Biden" and claims that Biden has "defaulted" on this duty since his presidency began.

He stressed that the situation empowers Mexican drug cartels more than the U.S. government, casting doubts over the nation's reputation as a leading superpower, Fox 13 News reported.

DeSantis emphasized that a different administration would likely handle the problem more effectively.

Future Plans

DeSantis remained coy when asked about his potential presidential run, hinting at future revelations about his political ambitions. "I may have something to say about the overall landscape for 2024, but stay tuned for that," he said.

Meanwhile, his administration has already selected three vendors for the governor's migrant relocation program, implying that additional flights or relocations are likely in the future.

One of the chosen vendors is the same aviation company that DeSantis's office previously used for the flight to Martha's Vineyard.

International Reactions to Florida's New Law

The new law has not been without its international critics. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador labeled Florida's new law as 'immoral' and 'politicking'. "Imagine, Florida, which is full of migrants, is taking repressive, inhumane measures against migrants in Florida because he wants to be a candidate," López Obrador said.

Despite criticism, Governor Ron DeSantis' actions underscore his firm stance on illegal immigration, indicating he is unwilling to give in on this issue.