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DeSantis to send state National Guard to Mexico border, Eskamani calls it a political stunt

Anna V. Eskamani holds a microphone
Phil Sears/AP
FR170567 AP
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, D-Orlando, speaks about her amendment to House Bill 3-C: Independent Special Districts in the House of Representatives Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. The amendment failed. A companion bill, which could dissolve the special district for Disney, passed in the Senate and the House is scheduled to vote on that version Thursday. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this week he would be sending over 1,100 Florida National Guard soldiers and Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers to the Texas-Mexico border.

While speaking in Tampa Monday, the governor expressed concerns over possible surges in border crossings after pandemic-era asylum restrictions, also known as Title 42, ended last week.

"With the drugs that are pouring across (the border), the fentanyl, tens of thousands of people dying, you have criminal aliens coming into our country, you have people on the terrorist watch list coming into our country, it's a total, total disaster," DeSantis said.

But Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, says the governor’s move is nothing more than a political stunt to bolster a possible presidential bid.

"We should be focused on solving real issues in Florida, not further politicizing immigration and of course, spending precious state resources and tax dollars on political stunts," Eskamani said.

She added that DeSantis sending the personnel to Texas will have a negative impact on Florida. She said the Florida National Guard is exhausted after having been on active duty consecutively for several years.

"In the case of natural disasters like hurricanes, flooding, and fires, the National Guard plays such a large role in responding to those crises," Eskamani said.

"So it's really important that we support our National Guard and allow them time to rest, not pursue politically motivated agendas — using their time and their energy for what ultimately is just a stunt and not an actual localized state problem to solve."

DeSantis' plan to send resources to the southern border is through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact — an agreement between states to help each other in times of crisis.

The governor previously sent support to the Texas and Arizona borders in 2021 after requests from those state's governors for assistance.

The governor shared a list of state resources he plans on sending to the southern border.

  • 800 Florida National Guard Soldiers
  • 101 Florida Highway Patrol Troopers
  • 200 Florida Department of Law Enforcement Officers, in teams of 40
  • 20 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers
  • 20 Emergency Management Personnel
  • Five available fixed-wing aircraft with monitoring equipment and two aviation crew teams
  • Two Mobile Command Vehicles and two command teams
  • 17 available drones and support teams
  • 10 vessels – including airboats, shallow draft vessels, and mid-range vessels

“The impacts of Biden’s Border Crisis are felt by communities across the nation, and the federal government’s abdication of duty undermines the sovereignty of our country and the rule of law,” DeSantis said in his press release.

The governor asserts that with the expiration of Title 42, border patrol agents will be unable to handle a large volume of illegal border crossings.

Title 42 was invoked by President Donald Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Before then, if migrants crossed the border illegally and requested asylum, they could stay in the U.S. while awaiting their immigration cases.

Homeland Security officials estimated illegal border crossings could rise to 13,000 people a day once Title 42 expired.

However, since the pandemic-era rule expired, officials say they've seen a 50% drop in the number of illegal crossings.

That could be due to harsher penalties put in place by the Biden administration for people who enter the country illegally. Migrants caught crossing the border now would be banned from re-entering the country for five years and face possible criminal prosecution.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Meghan Bowman