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The novelty of Ron DeSantis’ border plan is in more than just the details of the plan itself. It’s in the fact that it’s coming from a person who’s proven he will stick the landing and actually get the details done.
When in history has the most powerful country in the world had the least-guarded border and the most illegal immigration? Obviously, it never occurred before 20th century America because no other superpower has been overrun by such subversive elements from within. Organized public crime, such as cross-border smuggling, can only persist with political protection on both sides of the border. Until now, that has largely continued — whether because of malfeasance or incompetence. Will Ron DeSantis finally end it?
Border crisis stems from a lack of will, not a lack of resources
The border problem is not a natural disaster that requires innovation and ingenuity to deal with. It requires the will to actually believe in having a border and making no excuses for defending sovereignty. The reason illegal aliens come is quite simple: For over a half century, despite the unambiguous language of the Immigration and Nationality Act stating that anyone who is “not clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted, ... shall be detained for a [removal] proceeding,” they come anyway. They come because they know our political system has a schizophrenic view of illegal immigration. On the one hand, we say they shouldn’t come illegally, but if they do come, there is a job, birthright citizenship, K-12 education, and even a way to get refundable tax credits waiting for them.
The solution is therefore very simple. If prospective migrants believe they are wanted here, they come. If they believe they are not wanted and will not be accommodated, they will not come. For decades, both parties broadly spoke about discouraging illegal immigration but made it clear that they want to continue utilizing the lawless loopholes that allow them to remain. This is why, even today with a more hawkish GOP than ever, most GOP governors still want to continue allowing jobs and even driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
Until Donald Trump, every federal administration quietly wanted more illegal immigration. Trump genuinely wanted to shut it down — and likely still does today. However, because he threatened the forces of open borders as if he was an existential threat to their agenda but then didn’t fully follow through with the personnel, focus, and discipline needed to stick the landing, we actually were worse off under him than we were under Obama. Unfortunately, some of the precedents set under his administration paved the way for Biden to rip the hinges off the doors.
Trump had the will, but his many flaws denied him the results
During the first half-year of Trump’s presidency, we saw this principle of deterring vs. magnetizing the invasion play out as illegal-alien apprehension numbers slowed to a trickle. Sensing he meant business, illegal aliens heard the lessons loud and clear and simply didn’t make the trek. There were only 15,000-20,000 apprehensions a month during the beginning months of his presidency.
However, the left had a plan too and galvanized a counteroffensive on three fronts: It created sanctuary cities to block interior enforcement, mass caravans of family units to crash the border with sympathetic PR, and lawfare to encumber every enforcement action in court. I don’t blame Trump for any of these three actions, but we spent two years trying to coach him how to get around these tactics with mixed results. He never had good people at the top running DHS — there were too many mixed opinions, a lack of discipline, and a lack of focus.
As a result, during FY 2019, we experienced the worst border crisis up until that point. I chronicled it in this column every week that year. Nearly a million illegals were apprehended that year, roughly double the average under Obama. And most of them were family units which remain in the country indefinitely to this day. It was only COVID that finally shut down the flow, but the precedent of lawfare and caravans had been set for Biden to expand upon.
Because most illegal aliens were in sanctuary jurisdictions, only one-third of illegal aliens were removed from the interior during the Trump years than during Obama’s first four fiscal years. They squandered the first two years of the trifecta GOP control not fighting for the border wall and the funding and legal authorities to get around the courts and the sanctuary cities. And as they say, the rest is history. This is why we are dealing with 15 consecutive months of 200,000+ apprehensions at the border under Biden with a full-scale invasion.
Why DeSantis lacks the GOP’s Achilles’ heel on immigration
This is where Gov. DeSantis comes into the picture. There is not much in his border plan that is fundamentally different from what Trump promised, failed to deliver on in his first term, and now promises in his second term. What is different, however, is his record of sticking the landing as governor. How ironic it is that as presidents fail to enforce national immigration laws, DeSantis is enforcing laws and deterring illegal immigration as governor — with much less authority — like nobody before him.
Thanks to the work he’s done on the issue in Florida, illegal aliens, believe it or not, actually feel they are not wanted — a sentiment other governors and presidents have failed to elicit. NBC is reporting that thanks to the new Florida interior enforcement law, many illegal aliens in southwest Florida are “fleeing” to blue states. The Florida Immigrant Coalition reports it “is happening at such a fast level that we don’t have a concrete number.”
"I was well, well, well situated in Florida. I was doing well financially, stable with work. There was no problem. Now it's the opposite," said one illegal to NBC, who produced a typical sob story. “So the time came to make a decision: I told my wife, No way, she’s going to have to go because they don’t want us here.’”
It is these sorts of sob stories that other GOP governors and presidents feared, which ultimately led them to draw back from fully pulling the trigger on enforcement. It’s always about excuses. Even Trump got sucked into the sympathy distraction of “the dreamers.”
That reluctance has impelled a vicious cycle of incentivizing new waves of illegal immigration, as they know too well our political leaders will be bought off to not or will be too fearful to actually enforce the law. Clearly, they don’t perceive such reluctance on the part of DeSantis.
Now imagine such a deterrent at the national level. Again, DeSantis’ promises are not that different from the particulars of Trump’s pledge today or seven years ago. What is different is the expectation that he will see it through until the end. For example, rather than just promising a wall, DeSantis is pledging to enforce the follow-through by upping the rules of engagement against smugglers who try to cut through portions of the wall. DeSantis will also reserve the right to operate across the border to secure our territory from Mexican cartel activities.
The other unique aspect is his current leadership coalescing a group of states and sheriffs to enforce the law against the federal lawlessness. DeSantis is calling for states to have the ability to remove illegal aliens and enforce all the laws on the interior. There’s little doubt he would achieve this as president because even as a mere governor, he assembled a group of 90 sheriffs willing to engage in training and coordination against the current invasion. He has also sent 1,000 law enforcement agents to the Texas border, and if the Texas governor himself would be more aggressive, DeSantis would have them do removals today. DeSantis has also utilized the maritime resources of Florida, which are obviously much smaller than federal assets, to interdict illegal aliens in Florida waters.
Finally, the single biggest impediment to Republicans actually moving the ball past the goal line is their slavish devotion to business interests, particularly the Chamber of Commerce and the Ag lobby, which convince them the world will end without illegal alien labor. As we’ve already seen, even on other issues, DeSantis is not afraid to tell them to pound sand.
Thus, while the details of his plan are great, it’s the purpose and conviction with which he articulates them that sets him above the rest. Why? Because everyone knows when he sets out to do something, he sticks the landing. Just ask the illegal aliens in Florida.
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Blaze Podcast Host
Daniel Horowitz is the host of “Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz” and a senior editor for Blaze News.