DEL RIO, Texas — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis toured the southern border Saturday and met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, both of whom condemned President Joe Biden's administration for abandoning the immigration policies of his predecessor and opening the border to what they claim is an influx in drug trafficking and human smuggling.
The Republican governors joined Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson and other law enforcement officials in Del Rio, a border city about 150 miles west of San Antonio.
DeSantis announced last month that Florida would send law enforcement to Arizona and Texas in those states' efforts to secure the southern border.
During a news conference Saturday afternoon, DeSantis said 70% of people interdicted by Florida law enforcement in Texas said "their ultimate destination is to the state of Florida."
Calling it a "public safety concern," DeSantis said the fentanyl seized at the border in June alone is enough to kill almost 70% of the country.
"We need this to work," DeSantis said. "Obviously, we'd like to see the old policies (of the) previous administration just simply put back in, because we know that would solve a lot of it, but until we get to that point, the states are going to have to step up."
When @GovAbbott sent out a call for help to secure our southern border, Florida answered. Today, more than 50 officers from Florida state law enforcement are deployed in Texas, fighting human smuggling and drug trafficking at the border. pic.twitter.com/5FDbqjJakI— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 18, 2021
Abbott thanked DeSantis for providing resources at the border, as well as other states that are also assisting, among them Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Arkansas and Ohio.
"What happens at the border may be happening here today, but it will be happening in these other states tomorrow or next week or next month," Abbott said.
DeSantis said he witnessed the construction of the border wall and people crossing the Rio Grande during his Texas trip.
The disaster at our border is a direct result of the Biden Administration ending Trump border policies that curbed illegal immigration, the influx of drugs, and human smuggling. pic.twitter.com/TXhq8nsp3E— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 17, 2021
"We are absolutely gonna see impact in Florida and in other states if we don't turn the tide on this," DeSantis said in explaining the importance of providing assistance along the border.
DeSantis said more than 50 officers from Florida agencies have been deployed to Texas.
"Our Florida personnel have assisted with the apprehension of more than 2,800 illegal aliens and they've assisted with more than 100 arrests for felonies of those aliens, including human trafficking, drug smuggling and stolen vehicles," DeSantis said.
DeSantis called those numbers "eye-popping."
"Particularly, for me, what's been the most eye-opening is the number of these people coming across illegally who are telling folks that they want to -- that their destination is Florida," DeSantis said. "Obviously, I knew we were going to get some, but I didn't think it would be a majority."
DeSantis said "another wave" of Florida law enforcement will be sent to the southern border, but he didn't specify how many or when. The governor said he "felt an obligation" to help, knowing that Texas would "be there for us."
"Thank you for doing the job that the federal government is not willing to do," Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told DeSantis and Abbott.