Florida fights back as DeSantis rolls out plan to tackle ‘Biden’s border crisis’


Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday unveiled several new proposals to crack down on illegal immigration, casting Florida’s response to the border crisis as a foil to President Biden’s immigration policies and a model for other states to follow.

“This country is unable to control its own borders,” DeSantis declared at a news conference in Jacksonville, Florida. “We’ve seen millions of people come across illegally over the last two plus years. We’ve seen China, our number-one adversary, fly a spy balloon clear over the continental United States with impunity and basically humiliate our country in the process.” 

Assailing the state of the border and Biden’s “reckless” policies, the governor announced several new initiatives to strengthen immigration laws, including requiring that all state employers use E-Verify to confirm the legal status of their employees. He proposed that voters be required to attest, under penalty of perjury, that they are citizens of the United States while registering to vote. 

“We want all citizens here that want to vote, to vote, but we don’t want anybody here voting illegally,” DeSantis said. “And if you’re not a citizen of this country, you should not be voting in our elections.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced several new initiatives to crack down on illegal immigration in Florida on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.  (WAWS)

DeSantis is also asking the Florida legislature to increase the penalties for human smuggling, making it a third-degree felony to transport migrants to Florida illegally. And he vowed to stop the practice of local governments funding nonprofit organizations to create ID cards for illegal immigrants, asserting that local officials were circumventing state law. 

“We need to do everything in our power to protect the people of Florida from what’s going on at the border and the border crisis,” DeSantis said.

Offering sharp criticism for Biden’s handling of the border, DeSantis said that federal and state governments must remove enticements for migrants to travel to the United States illegally. His remarks carried the unmistakable feel of messaging from a presidential candidate. Indeed, DeSantis stated that Florida — i.e., Florida under his leadership — has “fought back” against Biden “more than any other state has fought back.” He even took credit for pressuring the Biden administration to roll back some of its lax immigration policies by calling attention to the illegal immigration problem with Florida’s migrant flight program and a lawsuit challenging Biden’s “catch-and-release” policies. 

President Joe Biden speaks with a member of the U.S. Border Patrol as they walk along the US-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, on January 8, 2023. The Biden administration is tightening the rules for migrants to make asylum claims in the U.S. in response to overwhelming levels of illegal immigration.  

President Joe Biden speaks with a member of the U.S. Border Patrol as they walk along the US-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, on January 8, 2023. The Biden administration is tightening the rules for migrants to make asylum claims in the U.S. in response to overwhelming levels of illegal immigration.   (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Image)

Biden’s administration on Tuesday announced a new proposed rule that would restrict the ability of some illegally present migrants to claim asylum in the U.S.

The administration proposed the new rule ahead of the end of Title 42 — a public health order that has been used to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. The order is scheduled to end on May 11 along with the public health emergency and has renewed fears of a fresh migrant surge on top of the already historic number at the border.

President Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis arrive to tour an area impacted by Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. 

President Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis arrive to tour an area impacted by Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

To replace the order, Biden is proposing to make migrants automatically ineligible for asylum if they have crossed into the U.S. illegally and have not sought asylum in a country through which they have already traveled. The proposal is similar to the “transit ban” proposed by the Trump administration and ultimately blocked by the courts — though administration officials have repeatedly rejected comparisons to the transit ban, citing the existence and expansion of legal pathways available to migrants. They have argued that, unlike in the Trump administration, pathways remain open to claim asylum.

Reacting to the administration’s proposal, DeSantis said it was “sad” that Biden has let in more than five million illegal aliens since becoming president and that he “would like to see them take steps to stop that.” 

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“If he’s going to run again, this is a massive problem for him, and I think that they — maybe they’re wising up about that,” DeSantis said. “Because you can’t defend the borders of your own country? That’s kind of like your primary job.” 

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report. 



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