It is understandable why Florida Governor DeSantis would desperately need to do something - anything - to distract attention away from his own horrendous record of attacks on Covid-19 mask and vaccination mandates, which is in turn filling up the hospitals and morgues in his state. See Vox:

How Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's Covid-19 response became the model of what not to do

In such a situation what better scapegoat could there be than immigrant refugees crossing the Texas-Mexico border to try to escape from violence, poverty, corruption and natural disasters in Haiti and Central America?

As the old saying goes, if these Latino and Caribbean border refugees didn't already exist as targets of anti-immigrant hatred, DeSantis would have had to invent them. For a discussion of anti-immigrant scapegoating by Donald Trump, whom DeSantis is using as his role model, see Amnesty International' Annual Report for 2016:

'Politics of demonization' breeding division and fear

The report stated, in an obvious reference to Trump's attacks on Latino immigrants as "criminals", "rapists" and drug dealers:

"Seismic political shifts in 2016 exposed the potential of hateful rhetoric to unleash the dark side of human nature. The global trend of angrier and more divisive politics was exemplified by Donald Trump's poisonous campaign rhetoric..."

In an official statement attacking border refugees five years later, DeSantis is now following directly in Trump's footsteps:

The governor' statement includes the following quote from Florida's attorney general, Ashley Moody:

"Biden's lax border policy is an open invitation to dangerous criminals, human traffickers and drugs traffickers to enter the United States - creating a crisis at Southern Border like we have never seen."

Obviously, DeSantis is hoping hat his resort to Trump-style racist anti-immigrant demagoguery will distract from his role in causing Florida's skyrocketing Covid-19 infection and death toll (including a child and a grandchild of my own who live in that state - both fortunately recovered), Whether this will work for him remains to be seen.

But of one thing we can be quite sure: As the 2022 midterm elections come closer, we will be hearing a lot more from Republican officials and commentators about the supposed dangers to America from peaceful brown and black immigrants at the Mexican border seeking to find refuge in the US from intolerable conditions in their home countries. This desperate bid by Republicans to distract attention from Covid-19, which is raging out of control in many other GOP-run states besides Florida, will only grow louder and more intense.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
Harvard College A.B.
Harvard Law School LL.B