(The Center Square) – Following through on a pledge he made during his first border security summit in Arizona and ahead of his next border trip to Texas on Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced the creation of a new national coalition of sheriffs committed to working together to combat crime stemming from the border crisis.
More than 90 sheriffs from 24 states are part of the coalition. Notably absent from the list are Texas border sheriffs who’ve been combating border-related crime for years.
Participants in the coalition include sheriffs from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
“Illegal Immigration has not only ravaged communities along the southern border, it has harmed states across the country with the deadly influx of cartel-trafficked fentanyl and higher rates of violent crime,” DeSantis said. “I’m proud to work with this growing group of law enforcement leaders and bring Florida’s dedicated resources and leadership to bear on this national problem.”
In an undated and signed letter, the sheriffs express their commitment to securing the border.
“As elected law enforcement officers, we must uphold our oaths of office and protect the legal residents of our jurisdictions. While we are committed to upholding the law and maintaining public safety, the federal government has failed in its responsibilities to secure our nation’s borders. During the 2022 Fiscal Year, encounters at the Southwest Border hit record numbers, and encounters in Fiscal Year 2023 are nearly twenty percent higher than in 2022,” they write.
“The consequences of the federal government’s abdication are being felt across the nation. Cartels and gang members are bringing record levels of fentanyl and other drugs into our communities as our officers work around the clock to battle these criminal institutions. As Sheriffs, we are thankful that Florida has recognized the crisis at our border and we are partnering with the Sunshine State to bring law and order back to our streets.
“It is unfortunate that the federal government has effectively abandoned border states … We can no longer sit by and watch our nation become overrun by gang activity and drug-related violence.”
The sheriffs pledged to “join together to partner with Governor DeSantis and the state of Florida to preserve the safety and well-being of the citizens we serve.”
Notably absent signees are key Texas border sheriffs and one of the most influential sheriffs in the state who created a multi-agency Texas Operation Lone Star Task Force to combat cartel and border-related crimes, Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd. One Texas sheriff who signed the letter from Lavaca County has refused to participate or join OLS task force operations over the last two years and is currently being challenged in his reelection bid.
Boyd, who didn’t sign the letter, told The Center Square that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has done more for Texas and provided more support for border security operations than any other governor in the state’s history.
Others have pointed out that it’s Abbott and Texas that are leading on border security efforts. Florida has been supporting Texas’ OLS border security operations as well.
Last fall, Abbott met with Texas sheriffs to discuss efforts to combat cartel-related crime stemming from the southern border.
“Texas has done more than any state in the history of America to respond to this challenge,” Abbott said at the time. “We’re the only state to build our own border wall. We have the National Guard on the border that are involved in turning back people who are trying to cross the border illegally.” Some who get through are interdicted and arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety officers and sheriffs, he added.
“We were drowning in work and we could not keep up until Gov. Abbott stepped up and provided us with Operation Lone Star funding,” Boyd said. “That funding gave us the personnel, gave us the overtime, the equipment, to be able to go out and proactively fight the cartels and their operatives right in our jurisdiction.”
Every Texas sheriff involved in interdicting cartel crime The Center Square has spoken to credits Abbott and Operation Lone Star funding for enabling them to be more effective. Jackson County Sheriff Kelly Janica, a member of the OLS Task Force, told The Center Square it is because of OLS funds that they’re using new technology and have access to other resources.