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Florida Gov. DeSantis Anti-Immigrant Policies

Elections and Politics Policy Brief #29 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | October 20, 2021

Header photo taken from: Florida Phoenix

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Photo taken from: Getty Images

Policy Summary

In recent months, the United States has seen large numbers of people attempting to cross into its borders from as far away as Afghanistan and as near as Haiti. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken issue with the Biden administration’s handling of the border situations and has accused it of having lax immigration policies that have allowed in too many undocumented migrants. A problem he feels puts Americans and Floridians in danger.

Governor DeSantis has announced three actions being taken to curb what he sees as an immigrant crisis in the U.S. with the first action being that the State of Florida will sue the Biden administration over its immigration policies. The lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration violated a law known as the Administrative Procedure Act, by overstepping its legal authority when deciding not to detain undocumented immigrants arriving. It also alleges that the federal government’s actions violate the law because they are “arbitrary and capricious”. Secondly, the Governor has signed Executive order 21-223, which is also called the “Biden Border Crisis Executive Order”, which prohibits Florida agencies from cooperating with the federal government over certain immigration issues, for example prohibiting state agencies under Governor’s purview from providing support for the resettlement of illegal aliens to Florida… and, encouraging state law enforcement to detain any vehicle suspected of transporting illegal aliens if there is reasonable suspicion it is being used for human or drug trafficking. 

Lastly, Larry Keefe a former U.S. attorney for Florida who was nominated by former President Donald Trump to become a federal prosecutor has been appointed to a new position, as the state’s “public safety czar”. Keefe’s stated purpose in the new role is to help keep Floridians safe from dangerous illegal immigrants who may try to enter the state or are already in it. The governor also recently called on state law enforcement to ‘audit’ private companies to ensure their workers are legally permitted to work in the United States and he has encouraged Florida authorities to detain buses, planes, or cars that they “reasonably believed” to be transporting people who entered the country illegally.

Policy Analysis

Under former president, Donald Trump DeSantis had no quarrels with Florida authorities cooperating with the federal government on issues of immigration. DeSantis and Biden have clashed over many issues in the past year, from lockdowns, to mask mandates and now immigration. 

President Biden has not exactly been “soft” on immigration. He has continued keeping migrants in Mexico to await asylum claims hearings. The administration has also carried on using migrant detention centers used under the Trump administration that was promised would be shut down. They have also deported a large number of Haitians back to Haiti even as the situation continues to deteriorate and it is labeled unsafe for travel.

 Still, DeSantis claims the administration has been far too soft on immigration and continues to implement draconian policies in his state. His new public safety czar will likely pursue new policies targeting immigrants and those Floridians who are suspected of being immigrants.

Photo taken from: AP News

DeSantis has worked hard to brand himself in Trump’s likeness and his Florida policies are examples of what kind of governing he would do at the national level. In further harming and alienating Florida’s large Latino and black citizens, he is gaining the national spotlight and attracting the Right-wing with a growing reputation for being the U.S.’s most rebellious, provocative, and anti-immigrant politician.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on image to visit resource website.

Florida immigration coalition- The Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) is a statewide coalition of more than 65 member organizations. We work together for the fair treatment of all people, including immigrants. With staff in six counties and members throughout Florida

ACLU Florida- The mission of the ACLU of Florida is to protect, defend, strengthen, and promote the constitutional rights and liberties of all people in Florida. We envision a fair and just Florida, where all people are free, equal under the law, and live with dignity.

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