Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has defended his decision to fly groups of migrants across the country during his recent visit to the U.S. southern border.
DeSantis, who is considering a presidential bid in 2024 and has positioned himself as a tough-on-immigration candidate, made a stop in Arizona after it was revealed that Florida had organized two chartered flights to transport migrants from Texas to California.
This move drew criticism from California Governor Gavin Newsom and other officials.
DeSantis justified the flights by stating that they were an effective measure to address the issue of illegal migration. He has consistently emphasized border security as a key focus of his campaign, criticizing the Biden administration’s immigration policies as weak.
During a meeting with law enforcement officials in Sierra Vista, Arizona, near the U.S.-Mexico border, DeSantis accused President Biden of failing in his duty to secure the border.
The eventual Republican nominee will face off against Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 election.
DeSantis argued that the flights had redirected migrants away from Florida and placed blame on liberal states like California for encouraging illegal migration through their policies.
In the past, DeSantis had organized the transportation of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, which garnered support from Republican voters.
Governor Newsom, a Democrat, responded to the recent flights by threatening DeSantis with kidnapping charges on Twitter, referring to him as a “small, pathetic man.” California’s attorney general is also examining potential legal consequences for the flights, whether civil or criminal.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management stated that the migrants had traveled on the flights voluntarily, and the state legislature recently allocated an additional $12 million to expand the migrant relocation program.
During his visit to the border, DeSantis highlighted the need to combat the flow of illegal drugs, particularly fentanyl, across the border.
He described the situation as not just a border crisis but an American crisis, emphasizing the impact on communities nationwide.
DeSantis announced that Florida would collaborate with sheriffs and governors who shared his views to provide resources and support in securing the border.
The Biden administration countered Republican concerns by stating that border crossings had decreased by over 70% since the lifting of the pandemic-era order known as Title 42.
The administration attributed the decrease to stricter penalties for illegal border crossers and the implementation of new administrative pathways for migrants seeking asylum.