As the GOP presidential primary advances, candidates are beginning to roll out new details about their policy platforms. For his part, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is prioritizing immigration — particularly his response to Mexican drug cartels — as a focus of his campaign.
During a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, he said that he was struck by the perilous situation and began considering new “rules of engagement” in response to the human trafficking and other international crime perpetrated by the cartels.
In a Fox News Channel interview, he said that the border trip confirmed what he already knew about the border but offered stark details that he had not previously observed.
“It’s worse than you think when you actually get down there,” he said. “And the impunity with which the cartels operate. I was literally in a place in Arizona, there is a piece of wall that just kind of stops. So the guy just goes on the other side of where the wall ends, looks out, and he just motions for people to go.”
At this section of the border, the governor said that border patrol agents are “in town processing people” and not actually stopping the continuous invasion.
“And so they’re bringing products into our country,” he added. “They’re killing a lot of people,”
Even where the border is ostensibly secured with barriers, DeSantis recalled seeing apparent cartel members “actually cut through the steel beams, and they’ll smuggle in backpacks with a lot of drugs.”
He noted that the insufficient response by U.S. authorities helped him come up with a plan of action for his own administration to pursue if he is elected president.
“So what I said is, wait a minute, we defend the territory of our own country,” he said. “We’ll have the military and everyone down there. If you are in the cartels cutting through our fence to bring drugs in, that’s going to be the last thing you do because we’re going to leave you stone cold dead. We are having adequate rules of engagement.”
MISSION: Stop the invasion
— Team DeSantis (@TeamDeSantis) June 26, 2023
It is worth noting, however, that the immigration policies he laid out while delivering a speech near the border in Texas — ending birthright citizenship, completing the border wall, and utilizing the American military to fight the cartels — is quite similar to the platform already unveiled by primary front-runner Donald Trump.