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Today Tel Aviv, tomorrow Tegucigalpa! Florida's governor-president solves immigration

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stands in front a lectern with a sign reading SECURE OUR BORDER SECURE OUR STATES
The Florida Channel
PRESIDENTIAL AUDITIONS Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in Jacksonville last week announcing a program to remove "unauthorized aliens" from Florida.

COMMENTARY Ron DeSantis doesn't let the Constitution stop him from conducting federal policy. Let's hope he'll tackle the source of illegal immigration.

Floridians are fortunate to have a governor who can perform not only his state duties but jobs that are usually — er, constitutionally — assigned to the federal government. Few if any Americans outside the Sunshine State get the two-fer of a governor-president like Ron DeSantis.

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Who needs the State Department when your governor can haul his cabinet to Israel and conduct Middle East policy in Washington’s stead — as right-wing Ron did two years ago by declaring in Tel Aviv that Palestinians “teach their kids in school to hate Jews, to hate Israel.”

It’s hard to believe that speech didn’t lead to a diplomatic breakthrough over there. And it’s just as hard to comprehend now that DeSantis’ assumption of the federal immigration enforcement role isn’t bringing illegal immigration to a screeching halt at the U.S.’s southern border.

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I’m talking of course about the slew of presidential audition tapes DeSantis has made for the MAGA base this year. His $1.6 million deployment of dozens of Florida cops to Texas to help beat back all those homicidal, COVID-carrying migrants crossing the Rio Grande. His “Biden Border Crisis Executive Order” requiring his state’s law enforcement agencies to uncover the mad swarms of “potential illegal immigrants” being smuggled into Florida by the feds.

And, last week, his bid for an $8 million state program to bus “unauthorized aliens” from the peninsula.

I, for one, am holding out hope that DeSantis’ shameless grandstanding — I mean, his heroic assertion of state self-defense — will solve the insoluble U.S. immigration crisis. But that will require just one more usurpation of federal responsibility on the governor-president’s part: confronting the Central American governments responsible for the hellish living conditions that send most undocumented migrants to the U.S.’s doorstep.

I'm counting on Governor-President DeSantis to fly to Central America with a big S across his chest — for 'Screw the 10th Amendment' — and kick oligarch butt.

Why does DeSantis need to push the effete Biden Administration aside and teach those countries a Gatorland lesson? Well, because he’ll have no choice if his immigration policies are successful.

You see, if the governor-president meets his patriotic goal of chucking every undocumented immigrant out of Florida — meaning, out of the vegetable fields, hotels and construction sites where they work — that risks slashing the billions of dollars they send back to their home countries. Guatemala is on track to receive some $14 billion this year — almost a fifth of its GDP — from its migrant workers, a big share of whom toil in Florida.


Take those life-supporting remittances out of the equation and you’re asking for even more desperate illegal immigration pouring over la frontera yanqui. That’s because the governments of countries like Guatemala care squat — and I mean squat — about alleviating the poverty, violence and corruption that stalk their populations. Let me elaborate:

The Biden administration, following the sensible idea that illegal immigration is best tackled at its source instead of the U.S. border, wants to spend $4 billion to help make life less nightmarish in Central America’s Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The catch, however, is that if the U.S. deals too directly with governments as corrupt as the Northern Triangle’s, a lot of those billions could end up buying Miami condos for ministers’ mistresses.

C.M. GUERRERO/Miami Herald
Central American migrant workers pick green beans in Homestead, Florida.

So the U.S. hopes to engage non-governmental players like local humanitarian nonprofits. But the Northern Triangle’s political and economic elites won’t tolerate that. (Do you know how much a Brickell 2-bedroom costs?) They’ve all recently enacted “foreign agent” laws to harass NGOs that receive U.S. and other international funding — restricting their activities, taxing their coffers — making it harder for do-gooders like Biden to make any emigration-reduction impact there.

That’s why I’m counting on Governor-President DeSantis to step up. If anyone can fly out of a phone booth with a big "S" across his chest for “Screw the 10th Amendment!” it’s MAGA Ron.

He’s the man who’ll kick oligarch butt in Central America and force its leaders to make those countries livable. For starters, he’ll deny them Florida visas! Then, all those “unauthorized aliens” won’t have to come to Florida and break their backs to send home billions of dollars.

Yes, the price of tomatoes here will skyrocket with no one to pick them; hotel beds will go unmade. But those are the kind of courageous calls governor-presidents make.

We’re counting on you, Mister Governor-President. Today Tel Aviv, tomorrow Tegucigalpa!

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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