If Gov. Ron DeSantis really cared about the meth-addiction problem in Florida, he would not be looking for solutions among immigrants at the Texas or Arizona borders, where he has no jurisdiction to enforce immigration law or run drug stings.
But demagogue DeSantis made another round of attention-grabbing headlines when he pledged to send local and state security forces to Texas and Arizona to help police the southern border. Never mind that everyone knows that immigration and border security are federal government issues.
The deployment would take place at the expense of Florida taxpayers and, so far, DeSantis appears to have no real plan for his deputies other than, maybe, having them watch a series of revved-up Fox News reports from the U.S.-Mexico border?
This is, after all, the place where DeSantis and his devotees get their distorted world view.
The most recent daily harangues, delivered as “news alerts,” are the kind in which both anchor and reporter editorialize and agitate — “Crazy!,” “Wow!” “Nightmare” — to make images of huddled or fleeing people they don’t know seem more dramatic than they are.
Pointing to about 20 immigrants peacefully sitting roadside, Los Angeles-based reporter Bill Melugin breathlessly says they emerged from the bush and are waiting for the Border Patrol to arrive. He says they’re weathered and thirsty but doesn’t give them water. He then uses the moment to make the case that the Border Patrol is short-handed and stressed.
What he doesn’t say is that most migrants will be quickly sent back home — unless they can prove a credible, documented, personal fear of persecution, which is very hard to do.
The same policy applies during whatever administration is in charge, including President Joe Biden’s, who is also repatriating Cubans interdicted at sea.
No border emergency
Since no one has declared a federal or state of emergency at the border with Mexico, there would be no expense reimbursement for the agencies being sent out of state, including the Florida Highway Patrol (leaving our roads wide open to speeders), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (This is a joke, right? Or are they going whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande?) and sheriff’s office deputies from the same red counties, those who flanked DeSantis when he signed his anti-protest bill into law.
Once more, DeSantis is grandstanding and fear-mongering, two things he does really well and that voters mistake for leadership. Even if he carried through with the law-enforcement contingent, he’d have zero impact on fixing anything at the border, least of all drug and human trafficking.
But the political stunt is meant as a rebuke of Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent trip to Central America to show U.S. willingness to help solve complex regional problems in a region way more beleaguered by drug trafficking and the fleeing masses than the U.S. border, and certainly more so than faraway Florida.
Asked at a press conference about whether this investment in resources in the matters of other states worked in the best interest of Floridians, DeSantis had no doubts.
“If that border was under control, we would have less meth pouring into Florida communities,” he said, throwing local shade that doesn’t exist, but — Donald Trump copycat that he is — right on target on the intent to link immigration with crime and criminal behavior.
Resources needed in Florida
Like their American counterparts, Mexican drug cartels manufacture meth because of the high demand from U.S. consumers.
If the governor really were interested in drug abuse prevention and intervention, there’s much to be done in Florida, where he has displayed an extraordinary ability to convince a part of the population that his fascist instincts are right on the money.
He could be pushing hard — as he did, for example, against Black protesters, transgender girls and minority voters this legislative session — to convince Florida’s white residents who are so enamored of him to take a deeper look at rampant meth abuse among them.
Florida ranks No. 10 in seizures of meth laboratories, chemical equipment, glassware and dump sites. Sounds like DeSantis could use all that law-enforcement power right here at home. And he could better spend the money he’ll throw away at the border to pay for effective drug-abuse treatment, so often only available to wealthy families while the poor rot and die from overdoses.
But the drug-addicted aren’t likely voters or campaign donors.
It’s easy for DeSantis, however, to convince loved ones that the problem lies elsewhere, and the blame rests with bad people from other nations.
And here he is, a fake knight on a lame white horse who’s going to deliver them from evil with the help of a police force on a field trip to the U.S. border.
The absurdity of this orchestrated campaign stunt should be obvious, but DeSantis knows how to prick the neuralgic points of his Florida base.
The politically motivated call to send help to deal with interdiction by the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona, Greg Abbott and Doug Ducey, respectively, gave DeSantis the kind of opportunity politicians up for reelection like him know how to milk.
“Florida will answer the call. Florida has your back,” DeSantis said from Pensacola, to the ecstatic pleasure of Fox News watchers.
This could be framed as his most jingoistic moment, but the road to 2022 is long, and even longer to 2024.
DeSantis’ aspirations are to expand his influence and command beyond Florida’s state borders.
He’s crafting a national platform at the expense of immigrants, an overused, but effective, ruse with a certain kind of voter.