Is DeSantis right to tell Biden to secure border amidst COVID spike?


Fact Box

  • Ron DeSantis is Florida’s 46th governor. Before his election in 2018, he served in the US House representing Florida’s 6th Congressional District.
  • On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, President Biden singled out Texas and Florida on their handling of COVID surges by saying “Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. [...] I say to these governors, ‘Please, help.’ But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”
  • DeSantis responded to Biden’s statement in a press conference on Wednesday, August 4, 2021, saying, ”This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to ‘shut down the virus.’ And what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border, you have hundreds of thousands of people pouring across every month. [...] Why don’t you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don’t wanna hear a blip about COVID from you, thank you.”
  • In June of 2021, Florida coronavirus cases were in the 1,200s, with a recent spike of 16,935 in early August. The state has had over 2.7 million cases with 2.3 million recoveries and 39,403 deaths as of August 4, 2021. 
  • According to US Customs and Border Protection, the number of migrant apprehensions have been increasing for the last 10 years, and reached a 20-year high of 210,000 migrants attempting to illegally cross the US southern border in July, up from 190,000 in June.

Andrew (No)

DeSantis's criticisms of President Biden's handling of the pandemic are scientifically inaccurate; he should be ashamed of spreading misinformation. DeSantis has said, 'He's imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border,' and 'whatever variants around the world, they're coming across that southern border.' DeSantis knows there is only one variant of concern; the Delta variant, which is spreading wildly in his own state. Instead of focusing on the Southern border, DeSantis should utilize some of the most simple and accessible safety measures, such as masking.

In saying, 'I don't wanna hear a blip about COVID… [until the border is secure],' DeSantis is making a false equivalency. By demanding that unreasonable action be taken at the border first, it is clear Governor DeSantis is unwilling to make the tough decisions to keep his own citizens safe from the coronavirus. This isn't an either/or situation; Governor DeSantis can do more on COVID and take criticism from the President when he fails to do so.

Governor DeSantis is wrong to use this moment to play politics. His words are not helpful and scientifically inaccurate; clearly, he is only trying to score points with his base. Neither the pandemic nor immigration should be politicized. When issues are treated this way, people suffer. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the politicization of masks, shutdowns, and vaccines lead to the unchecked spread of the disease. Similarly, appearing tough on border issues has led politicians like former President Trump to commit unimaginable cruelties such as separating children from their families (however, this policy predates Trump's administration). When politicians try to score points from public health and humanitarian issues, all Americans lose. 


Bill (Yes)

Florida Governor DeSantis is right to call out President Biden's blatant hypocrisy for criticizing Texas and Florida for being COVID hotspots while Biden's southern border policy is demonstrably contributing to the rise and spread of new COVID cases. Texas Senator Ted Cruz cited how the Biden administration has recently 'released over 7,000 illegal aliens who were COVID positive just in one Texas city' (the city of McAllen). Cruz noted the impact of Biden's policy on the spread of COVID in the past week alone resulted in ''over 1,500 new cases' in McAllen.

DeSantis has been the target of attacks by both the establishment media and Biden as he has been one of the few governors to speak out publicly against the Biden administration's heavy-handed and authoritarian efforts to rollout restrictive COVID-related mandates, such as social distancing, masks, lockdowns, vaccine passports, and the like. Additionally, DeSantis is frequently mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, and this may be part of Biden and the media's calculus—to try to discredit him. DeSantis was clear in discrediting Biden's attempt to paint him as neglecting his duty in combatting COVID in Florida.  

DeSantis is not shy about defending himself against Democrat attacks and turning the criticism around to Biden's disastrous border policies, firing back with, 'What has he done? He's imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border.' DeSantis is one of the few public figures to stand up to the Biden administration's campaign to keep kindergartners in masks and force an unwanted vaccine on those with legitimate objections to its safety and efficacy. DeSantis should be commended for his stance.

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