The state of Florida is set to come to the aid of Texas as the Lone Star state battens down the hatches in what it describes as a bid to secure its border in the face of an absent federal government.
Florida officials tell TPM that the state is committing upwards of 50 officers from its Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Highway Patrol, and Department of Law Enforcement to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.
The state is refusing to release details of precisely where the officers will be deployed, citing “operational security” and the need to keep potential wrongdoers on their toes.
“Some of those participating in illegal actions — if they know how many are there and where — they might change their strategy,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesperson Gretl Plessinger told TPM.
Republican governors began to preen over a supposed crisis at the border on a national scale after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) sent a letter on June 10 pleading for help to secure the border in the face of an absent Biden administration.
The # of illegal border crossings this fiscal year is already the most since 2006. This is a crisis, our law enforcement professionals need help.
In response, @GovAbbott and I sent a letter to all US governors requesting law enforcement support along the border in our states. 1/ pic.twitter.com/U0dywS6XBz
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) June 10, 2021
Abbott, Ducey, DeSantis, and others are using the stunt to blame illegal immigration as the source of an epidemic of drug overdoses that continues.
“The cartels will see to it that their deadly fentanyl and human-trafficking victims reach far and wide,” the letter reads.
Florida’s roughly 50 officers face steep odds in their mission of securing the state’s frontier: the Texas-Mexico border runs 1,254 miles. But they can count another 50 red-blooded Americans to help them in that effort; a foundation controlled by Tennessee junkyard billionaire Willis Johnson told TPM on Tuesday that he is financing the deployment of up to 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the Mexico border in Texas.
“All governors should stand up to protect America,” Johnson said. “So I decided to help the cause.”
When asked what specifically the Florida law enforcement officers would be doing at the border, Plessinger followed up with TPM in a email, saying that “we aren’t enforcing immigration laws.”
Officers will be “investigating criminal activity associated with human smuggling, drugs and weapon smuggling.”
“This is why we aren’t able to provide specific details on numbers and locations,” Plessinger added.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said on Friday that it’s still unclear how the state deployment is being funded.
“Typically, if someone would help us we would pick up some of their funding. And so, so that’s how we would hope that it goes,” he said.
Katie Strickland, a spokesperson for DeSantis, told TPM that the state is hoping that Texas will pick up the cost at a special legislative session held next month.
So far, in addition to Floria and South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa have committed to send help to Texas.