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DeSantis' Border Plan Faces Scrutiny

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Governor's Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that state and county law enforcement agencies will send personnel and equipment to the southern border in Texas and Arizona.

Speaking in Pensacola Tuesday, the governor said at least a number of county sheriffs’ offices have volunteered for the operation including Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Lee, Bay and Brevard.

“Not a shooting, not a violent crime that goes by that we investigate is not involving methamphetamine; not a day goes by at all, that we don’t go to a call where someone’s overdosed on fentanyl,” said Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons, who adds that the dilemma reaches beyond the raw numbers.

“We can talk about the sheer numbers, and the pounds and the kilos that are coming from the border, through the interstate into our own Escambia County,” said Simmons. “What does that mean? It means that people are dying in our city streets and our county streets. This is a problem — we have to come together [and] we have to do something with it.”

On the state level, FDLE, Fish and Wildlife and the Florida Highway Patrol are also participating, said the governor.

“They’ve been requested to go for 16 days across a variety of different functions; how many of them? Once we work with the folks in Texas and Arizona we can get a sense of what would work and what would be effective,” the governor said.

The move follows a letter from Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona — close allies of DeSantis and former president Donald Trump — requesting immediate assistance to quell the surge of illegal migrants, apprehend illegal criminal aliens, and secure our border. DeSantis contends that sending the help has historical precedent.

“We’ve sent people to California when they’ve had wildfires; we sent people to Louisiana for hurricanes,” said DeSantis. “States have sent people to help us in the past. And so certain disaster emergency situations, where we just tend to step up and help one another. So that’s what we’re doing here.”

But not everybody is on board with the governor’s plan to help his political allies – who are also Donald Trump supporters. One is state Rep. Anna Eskamani, (D-Orlando). She contends that sending officers and equipment to the border is also a form of defunding law enforcement – and ironic.

“I think it was just a week ago when we saw the governor was failing to address the epidemic of gun violence – and then a few days later, he wants to send law enforcement out of our state to other states,” she said “So a lot of irony here, and course it’s completely politically motivated.”

DeSantis has other fish to fry in-state, says Eskamani. One example she gives is the backlog of unemployment claims involving Floridians locked out of their accounts, delayed payments, and website crashes.

“We have an affordable housing crisis right now that’s just getting worse; and the governor has not addressed any of these real-life problems,” said Eskamani. “Instead, he continues to be trying to teeter toward the Newsmax, Fox News, OAN audience by passing some of the most politically-motivated pieces of legislation.”

In Pensacola, the governor criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the border situation, which Eskamani calls hypocritical.

“And the irony here is that Gov. Ron DeSantis has accepted $10 billion from the Biden administration to soften the blow of the pandemic in Florida’s budget,” Eskamani said. “It’s just disingenuous for a governor to accept billions of dollars from the White House while also trying to attack the president of not looking effective at his job.”

What appears to be the bottom line, says Rep. Anna Eskamani, is that DeSantis is attempting to curry favor with supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“Everything that Gov. DeSantis has done in his administration — especially since Nov. 2020 — has been to essentially become ‘Trump 2.0’ to mimic the former president’s actions and his values.”

In Orange County, part of Eskamani’s House District 47, she says for now, Sheriff John Mina has not made any commitment to DeSantis’ call for sending aid to the southern border.