Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared the situation along the U.S. southern border a “disaster” on Saturday and called for its immediate closure as illegal immigrants surge into the country after the expiration of Title 42.
Speaking at a GOP event in Sioux City, Iowa, DeSantis said the insecurity of the border has led to deaths caused by Mexican drug cartels and the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.
“I‘d shut down the border immediately. Why are we letting this happen to our country? It‘s hurting people. The drugs are pouring into the country,” DeSantis said. “Americans are dying for what‘s going on at the border. Criminal aliens are getting into this country. Even people on the terrorist watch list are getting into this country. No, you deserve to have a secure border. You deserve to have the rule of law.”
The three days around the expiration of Title 42 saw officials set records for daily encounters with illegal immigrants, with agents apprehending 10,000 migrants per day from Tuesday to Thursday.
“We also need to restore a sense of normalcy about we are a nation that has borders. Our sovereignty as a people matters. Don‘t tell me foreigners can just decide to come across the border when they want to. We decide who comes into this country as Americans, we have every right to have that border secured and not have this disaster unfolding,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis called for renewed construction of the border wall as a deterrent and said Florida’s efforts to curb illegal immigration have been effective.
“Someone comes across the border, stop them and send them back on the other of the border. Don‘t give them a piece of paper and say you come back for a court date in four years. What kind of a deterrence is that? And I‘ll tell you this, these Mexican drug cartels are killing a lot of Americans. They need to be treated like the hostile force that they are. We need to be holding the cartels accountable, and we need to be holding the Mexican government accountable, because they are allowing a lot of this to happen,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis‘ speech in Iowa comes amid signs that he might enter the 2024 presidential race. Though he hasn‘t officially announced a campaign, he has been building up political staff and touring early–voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
DeSantis called on Republicans to reject a “culture of losing,” referring to Trump‘s loss and continued claims that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen.
“Both Florida and Iowa show strong leadership and a bold agenda can defeat the left in this country. But there‘s no substitute for victory. We must reject the culture of losing that has infected our party in recent years, that time for excuses is over,” DeSantis said.
Former President Donald Trump, who holds a double–digit lead in early 2024 GOP primary polls over DeSantis, was scheduled to speak in Iowa on Saturday evening but had to cancel due to weather conditions, including a tornado watch. DeSantis continued to talk about the stakes of the 2024 presidential race and asserted that Florida should serve as a model for the nation.
“We got to demonstrate the courage to lead and the strength to win. If we do that, if we make the 2024 election a referendum on Joe Biden and his failures, and if we provide a positive alternative for the future of this country, Republicans will win across the board,” DeSantis said. “If we do not do that, if we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past or on other side issues, then I think the Democrats are going to beat us again. And I think it‘ll be very difficult to recover from that defeat.”