Gov. Ron DeSantis rails against President Biden’s immigration policy

Governor seeks to pressure Biden to resume Trump’s deportation policies

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis railed against the Biden Administration’s immigration policies during a news briefing in Titusville on Thursday.

The briefing was held at the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum, where DeSantis was joined by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey and the parents of two people who were killed by immigrants in the country illegally, also known as “angel families” — Kiyan and Bobby Michael and Jamiel Shaw Sr.

“You’re not going to see people ... dangerous people released in Florida like you’ve seen in some of these other states where they get rid of bail and they do all this stuff because public safety matters,” DeSantis said. “One component of that is making sure people who are in the country illegally and committing crimes are held accountable.”

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DeSantis took aim specifically at President Joe Biden’s policy on the use of detainers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. An immigration detainer is a notice the Department of Homeland Security, which runs ICE, issues to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to inform them that ICE intends to assume custody of an individual who is already in another agency’s custody, according to ICE’s website. The detainer allows the agency to hold the individual for 48 hours after their original release date, excluding weekends and holidays, giving ICE time to assume custody, however, should that time lapse then the agency is obligated to release that individual, according to ICE.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, ICE detainers are formal requests, not warrants, and local law enforcement agencies are not obligated to comply with them.

“Someone may be here illegally, they commit a felony, they get convicted they get sent to state prison. Well, their sentence runs out at some point, and the appropriate thing to do is for the federal authorities to then take custody, and then return them to their home country, and we think that that worked very well for my first two years as governor,” DeSantis said, referring to the former President Donald Trump’s policy of removing anyone who was in the U.S. illegally.

On Feb. 18, the Biden Administration issued new directives to ICE that prioritize deporting people who pose national security threats or have been convicted of more serious crimes.

A memo issued by ICE in February states that “agents are to consider the extensiveness, seriousness and recency of criminal activity” when evaluating if they pose a public safety threat and therefore should be a priority for deportation.

“Now though under the Biden administration, they are basically dispensing with this idea of accepting the criminal aliens, they are not honoring ICE detention detainers and they’re halting removals of even criminal aliens,” the governor said. “We’ve already had in Florida, a handful of criminal aliens that had finished their sentences, and that detainers were removed by the Biden administration.”

DeSantis wants the Trump-era policies to resume and is looking to pressure Biden on the subject.

“I’m sending a letter to the Biden administration today asking them to continue the prior policies, where you’re taking custody of criminal aliens and removing them,” DeSantis.

This move comes after Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration in March, looking to halt these new immigration directives.

Moody said releasing and not deporting undocumented immigrants could result in more crimes and cost the state more in law enforcement resources.

The complaint outlines seven cases where ICE officials declined to take custody of immigrants after the Florida Department of Correction contacted them before their release from state custody. It also says the new directives are affecting county sheriffs who work with ICE to hand over those who are detained and suspected of being in the country illegally.

“We support the lawsuit against the administration that Attorney General, Ashley Moody has filed,” DeSantis said, adding that the case is set to have a hearing soon.

The governor added that he is directing Florida’s Department of Corrections to notify the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to local agencies “of all instances in which ice refuses to detain criminal aliens.”

“So if there’s a decision being made to not enforce the law we want that documented so that the folks throughout Florida will know if you end up seeing a reoffense,” he said.


About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.