Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images.
Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images.

Ron DeSantis defends migrant flights to California during visit to the southern border

The 2024 Presidential hopeful was at the U.S.-Mexico border in his first visit as a candidate. He spoke to reporters and defended his recent actions.


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A day after Florida admitted Governor Ron DeSantis as the orchestrator behind two migrant flights that arrived in Sacramento, California from Texas recently, the 2024 presidential hopeful came out and defended his transportation scheme to reporters during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona.

DeSantis participated in a roundtable in Sierra Vista, AZ alongside several law enforcement officials, including Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, a longtime critic of President Joe Biden’s border policy, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, and Sheriff Wayne Ivey of Brevard County, Florida. 

“These sanctuary jurisdictions are part of the reason we have this problem, because they have endorsed and agitated for these types of open-border policies,” DeSantis said. “When they have to deal with some of the fruits of that, they suddenly become very, very upset with that.”

In the roundtable discussion centered around border security the governor also defended the recent round of flights — done so through his $12 million state-funded migrant relocation program — by taking a swipe at California Governor Gavin Newsom and his state, who DeSantis said “incentivized” illegal immigration. 

“They have bragged that they are sanctuary jurisdictions. They attacked the previous administration’s efforts to try to have border security,” he said. 

Newsom and California Attorney General Rob Bonta have said the recent round of flights to Sacramento could warrant criminal or civil charges. 

The officials met with both sets of migrant arrivals who said they’d been misled into boarding the planes with false promises of jobs as well as other amenities. 

A “small, pathetic man,” was one of the initial public criticisms from Newsom in reference to the first flight arrival last Friday. DeSantis returned the shot, comparing California’s budget deficit to his own state’s fiscal surplus. 

“We have a good managed state,” DeSantis said. The sheriffs on the panel also took time to talk about the alleged crimes that they said had been committed by undocumented immigrants. 

The Florida governor has been known for his hard-stances on key issues, particularly immigration, and in his run for the Oval Office, he vows to go further than any past president to stop undocumented immigration, including foe and fellow candidate former president Donald Trump. 

“The border just needs to be shut down,” said DeSantis — in Trump fashion — before expressing his support for a border wall, saying “mass migration just doesn’t work.”

Last month, DeSantis sent more than 1,100 Florida National Guard members and law enforcement personnel to Texas to help at the southern border at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who’s also been responsible for the transportation of tens of thousands of migrants from Texas to sanctuary cities, including D.C. and Chicago. 

Another mounting pressure

As DeSantis deals with the backlash of the California flights, the state’s recently-signed anti-immigration law heavily pushed by him is now starting to worry a few Florida Republican legislators, particularly Reps. Alina Garcia, Rick Roth and Juan Fernandez-Barquin. 

On Wednesday, June 8, the three Republican lawmakers hosted an “informative meeting” regarding the new law and its implications. As predicted by many, farm owners and those in the agriculture sector are growing angry as the state sees a max exodus of Latinos who are relied upon for their labor in the fields and in other sectors. 

In the meeting held in Hialeah, Florida before the Hispanic Ministers Association of South Florida — many of whom work on Florida farms — footage captured by a Florida-based activist Thomas Kennedy shows Roth telling the attendees to not leave their jobs and the state. 

“This bill is 100% supposed to scare you,” Roth said, who waited on a translator to relay his words in Spanish. 

The lawmakers said the legislation is meant “more as a political bill, not policy.” 

They also said it’s meant to keep any new undocumented migrants from coming to the state, but not affect those who are already here, even illegally. 

“I’m a farmer, and the farmers are mad as hell. We are losing employees. They’re already starting to move to Georgia and other states,” Roth said. “It’s urgent that you talk to all your people and convince them that you have resources — state representatives and other people — that can explain the bill to you.”

Some of SB 1718’s provisions: 

- Criminalized the act of transporting an undocumented individual into the state.

- For hospitals requiring Medicaid, workers will collect immigration status from patients.

- Would restrict an immigrant’s ability to obtain any professional or driver licenses. 

- Criminalizes any person who knowingly employe, hire, or refers an undocumented worker.


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