Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said he would send the military to the U.S.-Mexico border and authorize service members to use deadly force against drug cartels if elected president.
DeSantis said in an interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell on Wednesday that troops would be allowed to use deadly force against individuals identified as members of a drug cartel who are trying to “break through” the sections of the border wall built during the Trump administration.
“I’m going to have the military at the border, 100 percent,” he said.
DeSantis said the individuals subject to deadly force would need to be identified as “hostile,” which would include those trying to break through the wall and wearing a backpack.
“If there’s a woman with a baby, they’re not a cartel member. There’s not going to be authorization to just shoot somebody like that. But when somebody’s got a backpack on, and they’re breaking through the wall, you know that that’s hostile intent, and you have every right to take action under those circumstances,” he said.
The Florida governor has previously vowed to send the military into Mexico on “day one” to fight the drug cartels, saying at the first GOP presidential debate last month that the cartels are “killing tens of thousands of our fellow citizens.”
DeSantis told O’Donnell that the military would only need to use deadly force against cartel members a few times before they change their actions.
“They do it now because they know that there’s no pushback. They know people are dying in America, and that’s fine with them. It’s not fine with me,” he said.
DeSantis has also made headlines in recent months for sending migrants to liberal-leaning cities and states with “sanctuary” city policies that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. He has been one of a few Republican governors who have done it.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), whose city has received thousands of asylum-seekers for months, said last week that the vast number of migrants being sent to the city will “destroy” it and has called on the federal government for assistance.
DeSantis argued New York City is an example of the situation with the number of migrants coming to the United States being unsustainable.
“It’s not the way to run a country. And what’s happened though is because some of the sanctuary jurisdictions, who were very high on virtue signaling when this wasn’t affecting them, have now had to acknowledge that this is untenable for a country to operate this way,” he said.