DeSantis details hardline border plan, seeking to rival Trump

By James Oliphant

(Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday outlined his most detailed plan yet to secure the U.S. southern border with Mexico as he tries to catch up with Donald Trump in the race for power. 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

At an event in Eagle Pass, Texas, on the Rio Grande River border with Mexico, DeSantis hit out at Trump, grouping him with other presidents who he said had failed to take steps to stem the tide. flow of migrants at the border.

“No excuses about that,” DeSantis said. “Finish the job.”

DeSantis, who announced his presidential bid last month, has struggled to gain traction against Trump, the ex-president who is seeking a re-term in the White House. National opinion polls show DeSantis trailing Trump by more than 20 percentage points.

DeSantis’ border security plan marked his latest effort to appeal to die-hard conservative voters in the party in hopes of drawing some of them away from Trump, who has made illegal immigration a central issue in his presidential candidacies.

After touting his record as Florida governor for weeks on the campaign trail, DeSantis is slowly rolling out national policy agendas. Energy and tax plans are in sight, he said.

As part of his border plan, DeSantis would end so-called “capture and release” and detain migrants crossing the border until their court dates; deny entry at the border to any migrant seeking political asylum; and tax rebates from migrants living illegally in the country to pay for the construction of a border wall.

DeSantis would also like to end so-called “birthright citizenship,” which allows migrant children born in this country to become U.S. citizens, and allows state and local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws. .

He pledged as president to employ US law enforcement officers across the border if necessary to stop the flow of fentanyl and other drugs into the United States.

He said he would do as much as possible through unilateral executive action without waiting for Congress to act.

Trump also pledged to end birthright citizenship and continue the hardline immigration policies he instituted as president. His Monday campaign accused DeSantis of “copying and pasting” Trump’s policy agenda.

While president in 2018, Trump said he planned to issue an executive order to limit birthright citizenship, but never followed through. Many jurists at the time doubted that Trump could use executive power to roll back the right.

At the event in Texas, DeSantis said the border has become a portal through which migrants from around the world enter and said the influx is straining local community budgets.

“There are people from the other side of the world who cross this southern border because they know that all you have to do is show up at the border and you are going to get a ticket to go inside. of the United States,” he said. said.

Ammar Moussa, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, criticized DeSantis’ plan, saying it consists of “political gimmicks that are but an echo of the same cruel and callous policies of the Trump administration that shattered our immigration system”.

President Joe Biden’s administration won a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court last week when it ruled that border states cannot challenge federal priorities for immigration policy enforcement.

Speaking to reporters after the event on Monday, DeSantis again defended his use of private jets to fly migrants from Texas to Democratic-led states such as California and Massachusetts.

“It’s been very effective,” he said, adding that it “will continue to be used.”

(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Mark Heinrich)

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