(The Center Square) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a border security roundtable in Cochise County, Arizona, on Wednesday with sheriffs from multiple states on combating crime at the southern border. He said they would soon announce a strike force, joining multiple sheriff’s departments nationwide to combat crime coming from the southern border.
He cited the success of Florida law enforcement officers’ involvement in Texas’ Operation Lone Star and the success of a new strike force in his state that’s been interdicting human smuggling operations coming from the border.
“We can work with different jurisdictions,” DeSantis said, “there’s no reason why we can’t be working with Texas, Arizona at the state and local level.”
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs wasn’t in attendance and didn’t respond to a request for comment about the roundtable or coalition being formed in her state by a Republican governor.
Joining Gov. DeSantis was Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Cochise County, Arizona, Sheriff Mark Dannels, National Sheriff’s Association vice president and Canyon County, Idaho, Sheriff Kieran Donahue, Western States Sheriffs Association president and Lea County, New Mexico, Sheriff Corey Helton, Florida sheriffs and others.
DeSantis said crime stemming from the border was not only impacting border counties but communities nationwide.
“This is a crisis, a border crisis, an American crisis,” he said. “We need to do everything we can; we want to forge a formal working relationship, make the most out of our resources.”
In 2021, DeSantis authorized sending troops to Arizona and Texas through an interstate compact created by former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in response to an influx of people illegally entering their states.
While that compact hasn’t been renewed under Hobbs – who indicated she plans to redirect the funding elsewhere – the coalition of sheriffs is taking an approach to combat crime like they haven’t seen in their entire careers, the sheriffs said.
Dannels said the federal government’s refusal to secure the border was “leaving the states and sheriffs throughout the country and local law enforcement to address” the border crisis, he said. The roundtable was an opportunity, Dannels said, for them “to come together and say, ‘How can we stand united in this country, local, state and federal, and challenge our governors, all of them … to bring the fight to the cartels?’
“That’s what this is all about. This is not about politics. This is about doing what’s right that everyone in this room that works for government have taken an oath to do.”
DeSantis said even though Florida isn’t a border state with Mexico, it has a maritime border, and Florida is currently under a state of emergency. The state has surged maritime resources into the Florida Straits to stop boats of people from all over the world from trying to enter illegally. “What happens is when they know they’re going to get interdicted, the numbers have plummeted,” he said. The U.S. Coast Guard alone has done 12,000 repatriations in the last 6-9 months and he said something similar would happen if the same policy was being implemented at the southern border.
“The border needs to be shut down,” he said. “We need to tell people, ‘You’re not coming illegally. You’re not doing a bogus asylum claim. You’re not going to be able to cross the border. … The whole thing needs to be shut down.”
DeSantis also said he supports completing the wall and “mass migration doesn’t work” because it “imposes huge burdens on communities.” The federal government needs “to hold Mexican cartels accountable. They are controlling our own border in our own country and getting away with murder killing Americans,” he said.
To address the problem, he said, Florida was “going to partner and formalize in the coming days and weeks with like-minded sheriffs and governors across the country to create a coalition of people who do have the will to combat this problem.”
Donahue, whose organization represents 3,000 sheriffs nationwide, said, “What we’ve seen by this presidency and by the secretary of homeland security is nothing but lies to us, lies to the American people, lie to our faces, lie to the sheriffs.
“I don’t want to meet with these people anymore. I’m tired of [the Biden administration] lying to me and to the American people. You’re not doing anything but being complicit in the crimes committed against citizens of America. Our citizens in Idaho and every state … are dying because of the inaction or even the actions of this presidency.”
He told DeSantis and Moody, “I so respect you for setting the standard and I want the American people to stand with you stand up against this tyranny that we are seeing. The Mexican cartels are our enemy.”
One of the ways to solve the problem, Dannels said, is “to enforce the rule of law as written. We need to secure our border with actionable, reasonable consequences.”