Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has unveiled his plan to deal with the immigration crisis that America has been facing since President Joe Biden took office. His approach is quite aggressive and should play well to the base. But former President Donald Trump’s method of dealing with immigration is also rather hawkish. In fact, both men’s plans are not much different from one another, which begs the question: How will DeSantis differentiate himself from Trump on immigration?
During a visit to the southern border, DeSantis highlighted the ongoing issues resulting from the Biden administration’s border crisis, such as individuals on the terrorist watch list crossing the border and criminal aliens entering the country. He expressed his intention to fully deputize state and local governments to enforce immigration law and consider designating cartels as transnational criminal organizations or foreign terrorists to empower federal authorities against them.
DeSantis outlined an aggressive immigration policy proposal during a speech Monday in Eagle Pass, Texas. His plan includes ending birthright citizenship, completing the southern border wall, and deploying U.S. forces into Mexico to combat drug cartels. The governor’s proposal largely aligns with former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, but implementing it would require reversing legal precedents, securing approval from other countries, and potentially amending the US Constitution.
The governor also suggested a reevaluation of the rules of engagement on the southern border, raising the possibility of using force to repel intruders. Trump dismissed DeSantis’s immigration policy, labeling him a failed candidate and claiming that DeSantis would merely replicate Trump’s achievements on border security. In a post on Truth Social, he wrote:
DeSanctimonious showed up today in Eagle Pass, on the Texas Border, with almost no crowd or excitement. He is a failed candidate, whose sole purpose in making the trip was to reiterate the fact that he would do all of the things done by me in creating the strongest Border, by far, in U.S. history. A total waste of time!
DeSantis struck back, responding to Trump’s pledge to carry out mass deportations by stating that Trump had made the same promise in 2016 but failed to deliver. The governor vowed that his administration would be more assertive and ensure firm and swift consequences for violating immigration laws.
While both candidates closely align on immigration policy, the key differentiator for voters will likely lie in their perceived ability to deliver on these immigration policies and pass effective legislation to address the ongoing challenges. To put it simply, the base will love both contenders on immigration. But it will be the candidate who can convince voters that they would have the most success in implementing these policies who will win them over.
Given the similarity in immigration policy between Trump and DeSantis, voters are likely to weigh their decision based on the candidates’ perceived ability to execute their proposed measures and pass effective legislation to tackle the immigration challenges facing the nation. While Trump’s tenure saw some progress in implementing stricter policies, such as the “Remain in Mexico” program, critics argue that he fell short of fulfilling his ambitious promises. Consequently, some supporters may question his ability to achieve substantial immigration reform if reelected.
Gov. DeSantis, on the other hand, presents himself as a candidate who can learn from Trump’s experiences and deliver on immigration policy in a more assertive manner. By emphasizing the need for swift consequences for law violators and proposing a comprehensive plan to tackle the border crisis, DeSantis seeks to differentiate himself by assuring voters that he possesses the necessary determination and political acumen to implement effective immigration policies.
However, DeSantis has not been tested on the national stage as Trump has. While the former president did not accomplish all of his objectives, he did far better than his predecessors on immigration. Both men will have to clearly and persuasively articulate how they will get their policies passed in Congress and how they will decrease the ongoing flow of migrants to the southern border.