Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has announced that his state will be sending police officers to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and Arizona to help deal with the migrant crisis. His announcement was in response to a request for assistance by the two states.
Illegal crossings into the United States have hit record high numbers, and states that share borders with Mexico such as Arizona and Texas are struggling to handle the inflow of illegal migrants.
A call for help
On June 10, Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) and Governor Doug Ducey (R-Arizona) wrote a letter outlining the border issues. Calling their states “ground zero” for the migrant crisis, the governors criticized the Biden administration for being “unable to do the job” of securing America’s border with Mexico.
They warned of criminal cartels using the border crisis to benefit from fentanyl smuggling and human trafficking. In addition, the “convicted criminals they smuggle… will bring recidivism with them to far too many of your communities,” the governors wrote.
Recidivism refers to the tendency of convicted criminals to reoffend. Abbott issued a disaster declaration in response to the illegal border crossings and the accompanying threats to the lives and property of American citizens, while Ducey issued a Declaration of Emergency.
The governors stated that additional manpower was needed from “any state that can spare it” to deal with the situation at the border. “With your help, we can apprehend more of these perpetrators of state and federal crimes before they can cause problems in your state.”
“Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure the border in the federal government’s absence, and now, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) gives your State a chance to stand strong with us,” the letter stated.
EMAC is a mutual aid agreement between American states and territories that allows them to share resources during times of crisis like natural disasters, terrorism, and man-made disasters.
At a press conference, DeSantis declared that Florida would be sending law enforcement officials to Arizona and Texas to help deal with the crisis at the border. He pointed out that Florida was the first state to respond to the request made by governors Ducey and Abbott.
DeSantis said that the northern regions of Florida have been hit hard by the methamphetamine crisis, with rampant use of the highly addictive stimulant and drug. The situation worsened in the past six months after President Joe Biden lifted several Trump-era border policies.
The Florida governor added that criminals were “cooking this stuff (methamphetamine) up locally” 10 to 20 years ago. However, now “it’s almost all coming across the southern border.” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who attended the press conference, pointed to DeSantis as an example of “what real leadership looks like.”
“In these short few months that this administration has been in charge, we have seen a 230% increase in fentanyl seizures, enough to kill almost half of the American population. We have seen over a 3,000% increase in sexual offenders being detained at the border. As a mother, as a former prosecutor and judge, that infuriates me and terrifies me,” Moody said.
DeSantis has committed the following agencies to help Arizona and Texas:
- The Sheriff’s Offices of the Brevard, Escambia, Holmes, Hillsborough, Lee, Santa Rosa, Walton, Pasco, and Okaloosa counties
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- Florida Highway Patrol
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement
The Florida Division of Emergency Management has been tasked with coordinating with law enforcement agencies regarding their deployment to the border. “I’m sure in each one of these sheriff’s departments, they have deputies champing at the bit to be able to go help,” DeSantis said. He did not elaborate on the nature of police deployment, but said that more information would be provided in the future.
Title 42 and border crossings
According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) report released on June 9, the agency encountered 180,034 people attempting to enter the Southwestern border in the month of May, representing a one percent increase over the previous month. This was the highest number of apprehensions by the CBP in a single month in more than two decades.
Single adults made up the majority of such encounters. “Thirty-eight percent of encounters in May 2021 were individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 15 percent for Fiscal Years 2014-2019,” CBP said in a statement.
The majority of illegals apprehended in May, numbering over 112,000 people, were expelled under the Title 42 emergency health provision. Title 42 expulsions are made by the U.S. government when people come from nations where communicable diseases are present.
The Trump administration used the provision to stem the flow of migrants during the pandemic, a policy that the Biden administration has largely followed except in the case of unaccompanied children. However, the Biden administration is considering the removal of Title 42 restrictions, which worries the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
“Title 42 is absolutely critical… I don’t think it’s a situation where it’s going to just be lifted electively—we will be mandated, through some sort of court order, to lift it,” ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson said during a congressional hearing on May 13.
With reporting by Arvind Datta.