TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis, joined by state officials, announced a lawsuit and executive actions aimed at curbing what he calls a border crisis of Biden’s own making. The executive order by DeSantis directs state law enforcement to detain vehicles and aircraft suspected of human trafficking and requests family service agents to determine if facilities providing services to illegal immigrant children should retain their state licenses.
The governor was joined by Attorney General Ashley Moody, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno and Larry Keefe, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida in Ft. Myers to detail a series of actions to fight the Biden Administration over border security and illegal immigration.
DeSantis and Moody had filed a lawsuit, suing President Joe Biden’s White House Administration over their alleged failure to properly secure the border, through either incompetence or liberal policy goals, according to AG Moody.
The governor started the news conference by opening fire on not only the changes in policy made by Biden to border security, but also by dismissing the vast majority of asylum claims as illegitimate.
“99% of these are not valid asylum claims,” DeSantis said. “Biden has also reinstituted a catch and release policy allowing illegal aliens apprehended at the border to just be released into American communities.”
DeSantis also criticized the president canceling construction of what he called the “effective” border wall, current policies on allowing immigrants who have served sentences, saying Biden has failed to use his authority to expel illegal immigrants during the pandemic.
“The numbers speak for themselves. The number of encounters at the southwest border has skyrocketed from 78000 in January to over 210,000 in July. That’s a 171% increase. That’s the highest monthly total in more than 20 years and there’s no sign of it slowing down,” he said. “You have another 208,000 in August, and that was again close to another record. Additionally the number of illegal aliens who were issued a notice to appear in court and subsequently released by the border patrol, which means they’re not actually going to appear, in July alone was a staggering 60,607.”
DeSantis said that by contrast, in the final full month of the Trump Administration, only 17 individuals who crossed the border illegally were released in the same manner.
The governor called the alleged security failures a crisis of Biden’s making, saying it was the states who were affected and needed to fight back against it. DeSantis brought up the deployment of Florida law enforcement officers to the southwest border, answering Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for aid in June.
He said that while Florida law enforcement officers were at the border in Texas, they had 9,171 individual contacts of people coming across the border illegally, 311 felony arrests, 79 human smuggling cases, 16 stolen vehicle cases, 43 narcotics cases and “four actual drug seizures” just by Florida’s deployed officers.
DeSantis said all of Florida’s officers were volunteers who “understood the mission is important.” He said a many of the immigrants were not just from Mexico, but from over 100 different countries, even from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. DeSantis said the immigrants are being told “this is the way to do it” to get into America under Biden’s policies.
He drew attention to those going through the legal immigration system and wondered aloud how they felt about this difference.
“It’s very clear that open borders is the Biden administration policy. They want a massive illegal migration into this country, and it’s obvious in the policies that they’re choosing,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said the Biden administration won’t tell them how many people are being resettled in Florida who came to the states illegally, nor how many were COVID-positive, and complained that the state is bearing the cost of the migration crisis due to the use of state services and tax dollars to care for migrants that are being resettled here.
At the end of August, DeSantis said he requested the administration cease resettling immigrants in Florida, but said he didn’t think they would change course based on ideological grounds. The governor mentioned everything from COVID testing status to previous criminal records as concerns for the resettlement, and that a request to meet with the president to discuss concerns at the border had so far been ignored.
“A lot of this is a complete and utter farce,” DeSantis said about the notices to appear for illegal immigrants for their immigration court hearings. “This continued release of folks on a very mass scale, an unprecedented scale will saddle states and local governments with health financial and economic public safety costs.”
With Moody, DeSantis announced that the state would be suing the Biden Administration over it’s “unlawful and destructive catch and release policy.”
He also said he would be signing an executive order to prohibit state agencies that report directly to him from aiding or abetting “whatever the federal government is doing right now, we’re not going to be a party to this lawlessness.”
“The order prohibits our agencies from providing assistance to the feds or any other entity for the transportation of folks who are here illegally into Florida from the southwest border,” DeSantis said.
The governor said the order also directs the Florida Department of Children and Families to determine whether Florida should continue to grant licenses to facilities that house unaccompanied alien minors brought into the state from the southwest border.
“Granting licenses to house illegal alien children who do not reside in Florida takes resources away for child welfare from children who do reside here. This is a problem we have to address and we have to put Florida children first,” DeSantis said. “The order also requests that the Commissioner of FDLE conduct regular audits of companies doing business in Florida, particularly publicly traded corporations and other large companies to verify that they are only employing lawful individuals. Additionally, the order requests state agencies to collect and provide information concerning the impact of illegal immigration in Florida.”
DeSantis said he wants information on the numbers of, and identities of everyone resettled in Florida from the southwest border after immigrating illegally. He said he had also encouraged Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Highway Patrol to detain buses and aircraft if they’re transporting illegal aliens from southwest border or if there’s reasonable suspicion of them being used for human trafficking or drug trafficking.
The order also requests information from state officials on the number of migrants who are pending criminal prosecution in Florida, the number convicted, the number of crimes convicted, and the amount of taxpayer funding spent on healthcare and social services for the illegal aliens.
He also appointed Larry Keefe, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida as the new Florida Public Safety Czar, giving him the power to “ensure the actions directed by the executive order” are performed.
DeSantis called the border situation a disaster and said they would take every effort to protect the people of Florida, before ceding the podium to Moody.
“I don’t care if it’s extreme incompetence, if it is radical liberal policy agenda, no one, let me repeat that, no one is above the law,” Moody said. “We are seeing dramatic effects at our border, it is an unmitigated crisis based on this President’s refusal to follow federal law.”
Moody said it’s not the president’s responsibility to decide to agree with a law, but to follow it as head of an executive branch. She praised the final month of the Trump presidency as a point of comparison for the number of illegal immigrants released into the U.S. interior and praised DeSantis for requesting the information and details from the federal government about the effects illegal immigration and resettlement will have on the state.
In terms of social consequences, taxpayer dollars, and the costs of incarceration for illegals who commit crimes in Florida, Moody said the price was $100 million.
“Our pleas to this president have gone with no response,” Moody said. “Hearing nothing from the Biden administration, we have had to take action and today I filed suit against the Biden administration for failing to follow federal law. We know we have seen increasing amounts of drugs flowing over our borders, specifically fentanyl. Enough fentanyl to kill our United States population four times over. We saw a 3,000% increase in sexual offenders detained at he border. It is clear that at this point this administration, President Biden is aiding and abetting criminal cartels.”
Moody said the failure to follow the law is leading to criminal cartels “having a field day.”
“We brought suit today, we will pursue this aggressively, and I am proud to say that Gov. DeSantis and I, as long as we’re in office, will not stop in pursuing the interests of our state and the safety of the American people,” Moody said.
Keefe spoke next, saying he was grateful to DeSantis for appointing him to lead the initiative to protect the state and criticizing Biden for the illegal immigration crisis he says the president has made at the border.
“We are going to enforce our law,” Keith said.
He detailed seeing a “continuing cycle of criminal lawlessness” as deported illegal immigrants continued to come back again and again to the United States.
“By cracking down on illegal immigration, we will be cracking down on these violent crimes,” Keefe said. “Some of the impacts of illegal immigration are less visible but they have great hidden costs, like the taxpayer dollars that disappear paying for support services for people who are here illegally. We will use every bit of the authority we have to protect Floridians and to protect their taxpayer dollars that are now being spent to provide services to those who are here illegally.”
He said illegal immigration’s chaos is most known to Florida’s law enforcement officers, and that the state needs them in this fight. Keith promised to use every bit of state authority to support officers who are attacked for doing their duty.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno praised DeSantis for his efforts, as well as other administration officials, for their championing of law enforcement, and law and order in Florida.
Responding to a question on how he can prove that the current “ebb and flow” of crime was a result of the immigration, DeSantis said it was “absolutely because of the change in policy” made by the Biden Administration. Pointing to the diversity of nationalities of the immigrants attempting to cross over the border illegally, DeSantis said it’s more than just an ebb and flow.
DeSantis said the throwing legal immigration laws by the wayside was “unacceptable.” He praised the recent results of court battles over the Remain in Mexico policy and other efforts to change border policies.