With hundreds of thousands more migrants headed for the U.S. this month, Florida is taking steps to secure its own borders. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has authorized police to stop vehicles believed to be transporting illegal aliens, and ordered reviews of large companies to ensure that their workers are legal. The state is also suing the Biden administration, charging that “illegally released” migrants are costing Florida taxpayers millions of dollars.
The release of some 12,000 Haitians at the U.S.-Texas border last month, and reports of thousands more of their countrymen en route, has put the focus on Florida, which is home to the largest Haitian communities in the country.
“If you look at what’s happening at the southern border, it is a total disaster,” DeSantis said. “This is absolutely a crisis…We are the ones who are affected by this and we have to fight back.”
Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Arizona v. United States, states can require law enforcement agencies to inquire into the immigration status of any person an officer reasonably believes to be unlawfully present if the officer has an independent basis to lawfully detain the person. DeSantis’ order includes aircraft, as well as all forms of ground transportation.
The governor also barred all agencies under his direction from “assisting the federal government, or any federal contractor or non-governmental organization, in transporting to Florida any illegal aliens apprehended at the southwest border, except as otherwise required by federal or state law.”
On employment, Florida statutes already require private companies to verify the legal status of new workers. DeSantis is now ordering a state review of publicly traded corporations with more than 200 employees, prioritizing sectors that have traditionally employed large numbers of illegal aliens.
Meantime, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that migrants released by the Biden administration are “arriving or will arrive in Florida, harming the state’s quasi-sovereign interests and forcing it to incur millions of dollars in expenses.”
The suit seeks to block the release of illegal aliens subject to mandatory detention, as well as the paroling of migrants “without engaging in case-by-case adjudication or abiding by the other limits on that authority.”
Florida’s actions, which follow enforcement initiatives in Texas, are efforts to fill legal and operational voids left by the Biden administration. Pete Saenz, the Democrat mayor of Laredo, 180 miles up the Rio Grande from the Haitian entry point at Del Rio, is increasingly uneasy. “The border’s not secure and hasn’t been for a while,” he says. As the situation continues to deteriorate, Saenz predicts, “People here will be begging for a wall.”
Officials in other states will be saying the same thing before long. In Florida, they already are.