Some say that he is a great actor. That his public image has nothing to do with his true inner self. They mean, it’s better than it looks. Those who knew him before he was a congressman and later governor, claim to not know him now. He changed. They insist that it is a real surprise that he is so relentlessly extremist and so, so eloquent.
Half of the country attributes his metamorphosis to the fact that Ron DeSantis wants to be President of the United States in 2024. If so — and there has been no official statement to corroborate it, under pain of angering former President Donald Trump — he must win the sympathy of the Republicans who vote in the primaries and who, at this moment, are Trump’s mental prisoners. They belong to him, body and soul, in the sense that there is nothing in the world that makes them waver from their adoration, from their conviction that Trump is the perfect leader and that for this, precisely for this reason, the others, Democrats, Blacks, Jews, women, liberals, illegals, foreigners, ‘impure’ republicans… hate him.
That is why, they say, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who won his re-election last November with the support of 60% of the votes, is in a frenzied crusade of hatred and resentment, with a heavy hand and an extremism that rivals that of Trump. Maybe he’ll get lucky and they’ll think he’s the reincarnation of the leader.
After all, on paper he has his virtues: a graduate of Harvard and Yale. Legal advisor of SEAL Seal Team 1, just 44 years old. In Congress, he was the founder of the Freedom Caucus, the extremist congressional group that allied with Trump. And as governor, he stood out for his ban on measures against COVID-19, such as masks and vaccines.
His latest actions against immigrants shouldn’t then be surprising.
Not a purple state anymore
Not long ago, Florida was a purple state: not red for Republicans, not blue for Democrats. Purple, in the middle. From the governor’s mansion, DeSantis turned it into one of the most die-hard extremists in the country.
In the same week that Florida passed a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy – when most pregnant women don’t know they are pregnant – its Legislature is debating a series of draconian provisions, in addition to harsh ones approved in the recent past, against immigrants.
DeSantis is faithful to the dogma of Republican neo-fascism, according to which ultra aggressive actions, are only in self defense. He then represents the victims. In this case, in reaction to President Biden’s alleged “open borders” policy.
The new package of regulations, limitations and punishments against migrants and those who assist them is a picture of cruelty meeting absurdity and together they give us a compelling and sad picture of the American Republican Party today.
If the bill is approved, among other provisions, it will expose people to third degree felony charges for harboring, hiring, transporting or concealing undocumented immigrants; Due to the seriousness of the crime, the person would be arrested wherever they are intercepted by the police.
The Height of Absurdity
This is absurd: DeSantis does not have the authority to directly punish the undocumented. This is up to the federal government. But he can jail those who help them, regardless of whether or not they are US citizens.
The Orlando Sentinel mockingly speculates that this paragraph would punish the popular Apopka nuns who have been fighting for children for 45 years, without questioning their immigration status.
The law would work against the adult US citizen son who takes his undocumented father in the car, or the lawyer who takes his client to court. Or the owner of a rental unit that rents it out to a family of undocumented immigrants.
And when they talk about “illegals,” the law’s authors aren’t just referring to recent border crossers. They include about a million people who have lived in Florida, many of them for decades, and who have children who were born here.
The bill also requires hospitals to ask patients about their immigration status and report it to the state, which will result in fewer immigrants going for medical care.
It even says that “certain driver’s licenses and permits issued by other states exclusively to unauthorized immigrants are not valid in this state.” And it directs the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to provide assistance to federal authorities in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.
The Height of Evil
The legislation also interferes with the independent functioning of local and county governments, by prohibiting them from allocating funds that can benefit those without a legal immigration status.
This is the latest link in a string of aggressive actions against immigrant families by DeSantis. It is the culmination of his crusade of hate.
Let’s remember that last year, the Floridian governor rented two private planes to transport (legal) asylum-seeking immigrants from Venezuela to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to “humiliate” the Democrats who reside there. The planes, strangely enough, came from Texas, not Florida.
In January he declared a state of emergency and sent National Guard troops to interdict ships carrying migrants from Cuba and Haiti.
Another DeSantis proposal is to force undocumented Florida students to pay out-of-state tuition. In practice, this means a 300% increase in the cost of university studies for immigrants, a measure that would cover 40,000 students who, since 2014, had been paying resident rates.
In general, undocumented students are not entitled to federal financial aid, neither direct in the form of Pell grants, nor federal loans, and at the state level, to other scholarship programs.
The proposal is a portrait of evil, because it occurs while in other states the trend is reverse, towards expanding the availability of state fees for undocumented immigrants.
This includes Arizona, which for decades was the focus of the country’s anti-immigrant legislation. Their voters last year overturned existing educational restrictions against the undocumented and expanded in-state tuition to all.
Florida and Texas are the only states going the other way.
He is more and more popular
This happens because DeSantis wants to appear badder than Trump in his FoxNews presentations.
According to FoxNews, “53% of Floridian voters like DeSantis while 36% have an unfavorable opinion of him. Trump holds a 39% favorable and 50% unfavorable rating”.
DeSantis is not dumb. His action corresponds to the views of the vast majority of Republicans, both in Florida and in the rest of the country. Eight out of 10 of them, according to a Pew poll, believe that deportations of “illegals” should be accelerated.
DeSantis has earned his place in the Republican pantheon, especially by virtue of his heavy-handed anti-immigrant approach.
We do not know if the immigration bill will pass in its current form, although it is likely. But provisions such as the one that allows the FDLE – Florida’s state police – to enter a business and review the documents of workers, could arouse opposition in the business class.
DeSantis is a Don Quixote in reverse, a dubious presidential candidate fighting grotesquely on behalf of the forces of evil, hate and resentment, racism and the mad nationalism of the Republican Party.
This article was supported in whole or in part by funds provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library and the Latino Media Collaborative.
Founder and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles. Editor Emeritus of La Opinion, former Editor-in-Chief. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, novelist, and short story writer. Was the editorial director of Huffington Post Voces. Editor-in-chief of the weekly Tiempo in Israel. Is the father of three grown children and lives with Celia and with Rosie, Almendra and Yinyit in Los Angeles.