1,000 Florida National Guard members going to Texas to help secure southern border

Gov. Ron DeSantis says border as 'bad as it's ever been'
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Jacksonville on Feb. 1, 2024.jpg
Posted at 11:10 AM, Feb 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-01 17:32:36-05

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Arguing it's as "bad as it's ever been at the southern border," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced the Sunshine State is deploying members of the Florida National Guard and Florida State Guard to assist Texas in its efforts to stop the invasion at the southern border.

Speaking at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, DeSantis said Florida will send a battalion of approximately 1,000 National Guard members, who will be deployed based on Texas' needs.

"States have every right to defend their sovereignty and we are pleased to increase our support to Texas as the Lone Star State works to stop the invasion across the border," DeSantis said. "Our reinforcements will help Texas to add additional barriers, including razor wire along the border. We don’t have a country if we don’t have a border."

According to DeSantis, Customs and Border Protection data in December showed that more than 302,000 illegal immigrants — a record — were encountered while attempting to cross the southern border.

The announcement comes as the Lone Star State squares off with President Joe Biden's administration and federal border officials at Eagle Pass, Texas.

The Supreme Court recently ruled hazardous razor wire Texas officials installed there needs to be removed. Gov. Greg Abbott, vowing to defy the order, promised to rebuild whatever is removed, and DeSantis has vowed to help.

"What the governor is saying is that we are being invaded, and I agree with him," Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill said. "We are being invaded."

Florida Republicans like Ingoglia hailed Thursday's announcement.

The escalation, he felt, would force courts to resolve a simmering dispute over federal immigration issues and a state's power to defend itself.

"We're clearly being invaded and when you have 3,000 people in a month coming across the border, I would ask people, what would you call that," Ingoglia said.

On the other hand, Florida Democrats fired back later in the day.

The state party called the effort "another political stunt with a heavy price tag for taxpayers."

"The men and women of the State Guard and certainly the National Guard did not sign up to be used as political stunts," House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said. "That's clearly what this is."

Driskell didn't pull any punches either, saying DeSantis needed to stop his now-defunct run for president and just run the state.

"Leadership requires courage. It requires conviction. It requires making tough choices," Driskell said, "but it also requires doing your damn job, and right now, DeSantis is not doing his."

Democrats also questioned whether the Florida State Guard can even be used in this capacity.

The force was resurrected a couple of years ago to help assist during emergencies like natural disasters.

However, the governor's office noted it declared an immigration emergency last January, which was during an influx of migrants to the Florida Keys.