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DeSantis sends more State, National Guard members to Texas

Florida National Guard soldiers line up
Michael Braun
A bill in the 2024 state legislature would about the Florida State Guard would remove part of a law that keeps the State Guard’s activities only in the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he is deploying members of the Florida State Guard and additional members of the Florida National Guard to Texas, which is in a dispute with the federal government about undocumented immigrants entering the country.

“I believe that a state has a right to fortify its own borders,” DeSantis said during an appearance at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville.

“And, so, if Texas is helping to erect barriers, putting up razor wire, doing other things to keep illegal aliens out, I want to be helpful with them doing it,” DeSantis added. “I don’t want to be part of the federal government trying to tear down these barriers and let more people in illegally.”

House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, quickly called the move a “stunt” and questioned DeSantis’ focus as he’s coming “off of a failed presidential run.”

READ MORE: DeSantis to send Florida National Guard soldiers to Texas for border security

“I feel like he's running for something,” Driskell said. “I'm not sure what it is. But he certainly wants to make sure that he stays in the national spotlight.”

Driskell said Thursday’s deployment announcement followed DeSantis’ call Monday for the Legislature to support resolutions seeking a constitutional convention to address term limits for members of Congress, a balanced federal budget, line-item veto for the president and to prohibit Congress from setting laws in which they are exempt.

The state Senate Thursday gave final approval to resolutions about term limits and a balanced budget.

The State Guard was initially set up during World War II to replace Florida National Guard members who were deployed abroad. It became inactive in 1947. But DeSantis revived the volunteer force in 2022, and lawmakers provided increased funding last year.

DeSantis’ announcement Thursday came as lawmakers consider legislation (HB 1551) that would clarify that the State Guard can be deployed to other states under an existing Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which lets states share resources during natural and man-made disasters.

The Senate version of the bill (SB 1694) has not been heard in committees as the Legislature finishes the fourth week of its 60-day session.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to battle the Biden administration after the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 22 ruled that federal agents can remove razor wire that Texas put at the border.

Texas sued the federal government in October after Border Patrol agents cut wire strung along the Rio Grande. Texas argued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security interfered in the state’s efforts to protect its border.

“We saw what was happening with the barricades and we wanted to make sure those barricades can be erected,” DeSantis said.

Florida has been sending members of the National Guard and state law-enforcement officers to Texas since May.

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Dave Kerner, joining DeSantis on Thursday, described the deployment as “proactively taking the mission to the Texas border, protecting Floridians first.”

Copyright 2024 WGCU

Jim Turner/News Service of Florida
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