Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Thursday encouraged Hispanics in Florida not to vote for Gov. Ron DeSantis to be the 2024 Republican presidential nominee because of his tough stand on illegal immigration.
"I hope the Hispanics of Florida wake up and don't give him a vote, that they don't vote for those who persecute migrants, those who don't respect migrants, because the migrant, as it is said in the Bible, deserves respect," López Obrador said, according to a transcript of his daily press briefing. "You have to respect — says the Bible — the foreigner, not mistreat him."
Earlier this month, DeSantis, a staunch critic of President Joe Biden's immigration policies, signed a Florida bill that makes E-Verify mandatory for any business with 25 or more employees, imposes penalties for those employing illegal immigrants, and enhances penalties for human smuggling.
The bill also prohibits local governments from issuing ID cards to illegal immigrants, invalidates ID cards issued to illegal immigrants in other states, and requires hospitals to collect and submit data on the costs of providing health care to illegal immigrants.
After the Florida Legislature passed the bill, which also appropriates $12 million to transfer illegal immigrants to other states, López Obrador criticized it as "immoral."
"Why does [DeSantis] have to take advantage of people's pain, of migrants' pain, of people's need for political gain?" López Obrador asked at a May 8 news conference. "This is immoral. This is politicking."
Whether Hispanic residents of Florida follow López Obrador's advice and "wake up" remains to be seen. During his reelection campaign last year, DeSantis won 57% of the Hispanic vote, compared to 42% for Democrat opponent Charlie Crist. According to CNN exit polling, DeSantis not only won a larger majority of voters of Cuban heritage (69%-30%), who generally vote Republican, but also a majority of those with Puerto Rican descent (56%-43%), who tend to lean Democratic.
López Obrador said Thursday that DeSantis' tough stand on immigration was tied to his run for the GOP presidential nomination, which he made official Wednesday.
"You can see that I [wasn't wrong] that all his politicking about immigrants was because he wants to be the candidate of the Republican Party," López Obrador said.
Newsmax reached out to DeSantis for comment.
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