DeSantis distances himself from Trump plan for FL immigration facility but praises partnership with Trump on prescription drug plan

The Homestead Detention Center. American Friends Service Committee photo

Gov. Ron DeSantis seemed pleased this week to take credit for a Trump administration initiative to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. He washed his hands, however, of a Trump plan to house migrant children in Central Florida.

“The shelters are basically regulated by the federal government. The state’s not involved in it. None of our agencies are in those facilities. It’s basically an HHS deal,” DeSantis said, referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“I haven’t been told that it was going to happen,” he added of the announcement that the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement was seeking facilities in Central Florida, Virginia, and Los Angeles to convert to immigrant children housing beginning next year.

Of the same federal agency’s prescription-import plan, however, DeSantis offered nothing but praise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would authorize demonstration projects by states, wholesalers, and pharmacists to import  drugs approved for sale in Canada – and investigate allowing drug companies to sell drugs earmarked for overseas sales in Florida.

“They actually used our model that we had been sending to HHS, that we wanted approved, as what other states should do,” DeSantis said. “That’s really, really, potentially significant, and that would not have happened but for what we did here in the state of Florida.”

The governor offered the comments Wednesday evening, in response to questions during a news conference in Orlando, where he was promoting the Major League Soccer All-Star Game.

The federal government  already detains children in a facility in Homestead that, according to news reports, has unsanitary and unsafe conditions that have led to outbreaks of communicable diseases. Members of Congress have been thwarted from inspecting conditions, prompting South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to propose legislation that would allow surprise inspections.

In May, local officials in Democratic-leaning Broward and Palm Beach counties announced that the Trump administration had threatened to release thousands of adult nondocumented immigrants within their jurisdictions. Caught off guard, DeSantis promised to speak to the president about the plan, which the administration later abandoned.

That plan would have presented “a huge problem in stressing local services and things, and basically they were going to expect the local folks to take care of everything,” DeSantis said Wednesday.

The new detention plan, however, is “totally within the purview of the federal government. They may rent a facility, they may own some of those facilities and then kind of do it, and that’s just the way it is,” the governor said.

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