Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the deployment of Florida National Guard troops and the Florida State Guard to Texas for border security, marking the State Guard’s first significant out-of-state deployment, in response to what he calls an urgent situation at the U.S. southern border.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday the deployment of Florida National Guard troops and members of the Florida State Guard to assist with border security efforts in Texas, marking the first time the Florida State Guard will be deployed outside the state at scale.
The deployment is a response to what DeSantis described as an” urgent situation” at the U.S. southern border. According to a release issued by the Executive Office of the Governor, Florida is offering approximately 1,000 soldiers, who will be deployed based on Texas’ needs.
The deployments will supplement the more than 90 officers from the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement currently at the border.
“States have every right to defend their sovereignty and we are pleased to increase our support to Texas as the Lone Star State works to stop the invasion across the border,” said DeSantis. “Our reinforcements will help Texas to add additional barriers, including razor wire along the border. We don’t have a country if we don’t have a border.”
The announcement comes amidst escalating tensions between several state governments and the Biden administration over immigration policies and border management. DeSantis criticized the federal government’s handling of the situation, attributing a lack of political will as a significant barrier to securing the border.
“Biden has the authority to close this border today,” DeSantis said. “He lacks the will to get the job done.”
DeSantis’ authorization comes less than a week after he criticized a bipartisan immigration deal supported by President Joe Biden and questioned its effectiveness in addressing the influx of migrants crossing the nation’s southern border. According to data provided by the DeSantis administration, in Fiscal Year 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol recorded 2.5 million encounters, including 169 individuals on the terror watch list, attempting to cross the southern border.
“Stopping the invasion at our border is a matter of will,” said DeSantis on a post to social media platform X. “It doesn’t require a so-called deal that codifies into law illegal entries in excess of 1.8 million per year and provides incentives for future illegal immigration.”
DeSantis has taken past legislative steps to curb illegal immigration, establishing himself as one of the toughest Republican governors on the matter. Last year, the Florida Legislature, at the behest of the governor, ratified a measure that requires businesses with 25 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the work status of new hires for permanent positions. Under the bill, hospitals are also mandated to compile financial data on the cost of treating patients without legal status, and the state allocated $12 million for a controversial program to transport migrants from Florida to other parts of the country.
DeSantis wanted mandatory E-Verify for all businesses, but the bill makes some exemptions for small businesses that critics say will ultimately miss the majority of undocumented workers.
The legislation fell short of fulfilling all of DeSantis’ immigration goals, as lawmakers did not act on his calls to end in-state college tuition for students without legal status. They also backed off on human-smuggling language that could have made it a felony crime to knowingly transport people without legal status within the state, a provision that drew heavy criticism from religious leaders who feared they could be arrested for giving immigrants rides to church services or Sunday school.