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Florida House Democrats Walk Out on Immigration Leader Who Associates With White Nationalists

| January 26, 2017

Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, right, in an appearance at the University of Virginia's Miller Center in 2014. (Miller Center)

Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, right, in an appearance at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center in 2014. (Miller Center)

A House panel’s decision to hear Thursday from a speaker with a history of inflammatory statements about minorities and immigrants roiled the normal peaceful legislative committee week in Tallahassee, prompting Democrats to walk out of the hearing.

The controversy stemmed from a decision by the House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee to invite Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, to testify during a discussion of resettling refugees, particularly those from war-torn Syria.

Krikorian’s organization has been linked to the white nationalist movement and has been the target of criticism from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors hate groups.

“This is racism, this is bigotry, this is hatred,” Rep. Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said outside the meeting. “Mr. Krikorian’s invitation to speak today is an insult to myself, all of my colleagues who are minorities, and millions of Floridians we represent in our communities back home.”

Shortly after the walkout, Florida Democrats sent out an email attempting to fundraise off the blow-up.

“The GOP is already attacking the legislators who took a stand for us against bigotry and hate. That is why we need to raise another $25,000 to defend them against any attack that come(s) their way,” the email said.

Krikorian has frequently caused ripples with his commentary, both on Twitter and for publications and websites like the National Review’s online platform.

For example, in a 2010 blog post for the National Review Online, Krikorian wrote that one possible reason for Haiti being “so screwed up” is “because it wasn’t colonized long enough” when compared to other Latin American countries.

“But, unlike Jamaicans and Bajans and Guadeloupeans, et al., after experiencing the worst of tropical colonial slavery, the Haitians didn’t stick around long enough to benefit from it. … And by benefit I mean develop a local culture significantly shaped by the more-advanced civilization of the colonizers,” Krikorian wrote.

Earlier this month on Twitter, Krikorian responded to comments about civil rights from Democratic Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil-rights movement, by comparing Lewis to “the grown man who won the big game in high school and never stops talking about it.”

During the House subcommittee meeting Thursday, Krikorian said it was impossible for the federal government to screen refugees from nations like Syria thoroughly, and said that some refugee communities formed “domestic breeding grounds for extremists” because terrorists could hide among even peaceful exiles.

In response to a question from Rep. Rene Plasencia, an Orlando Republican whose father came from Cuba and whose mother’s family came from Puerto Rico, Krikorian suggested current refugees are different than earlier waves.

“When your parents came in the ’60s or when my grandparents came as refugees from Turkish genocide in the Middle East, there was no cost to broader taxpayers, there were no welfare issues, and frankly, there weren’t really security issues because there wasn’t a lot of Armenian terrorism going on in the United States,” said Krikorian, who spoke to the subcommittee through an online video service and was not at the meeting. “We are in a very different situation both because of the sending countries, the international environment, and because we have a much more extensive system of taxpayer-funded support for the poor.”

At a Thursday afternoon press conference, House Speaker Richard Corcoran sidestepped a question about who initially decided to invite Krikorian to the subcommittee meeting.

“Ultimately, everything’s approved through the speaker’s office,” he said.

But Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, pointed out that Krikorian is a published author who has testified to Congress. And Corcoran said offensive speech should be countered with better speech, while noting well-known Democrats had questioned Krikorian during his testimony to Congress.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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5 Responses for “Florida House Democrats Walk Out on Immigration Leader Who Associates With White Nationalists”

  1. Knightwatch says:

    Finally… some Democratic backbone! It’s time to get tough, get engaged. Support your local Democrats.

  2. footballen says:

    In reading that article I cannot see what all the hubub is about. It sounds like the same old tired ass baseless accusation that everyone is racist now send us democratic politicians more money. That racism and bigotry card is played over and over like a broken record. Do not get me wrong true racism is disgusting NO MATTER which color you are discriminating against but my God they sling it everywhere and just hope it sticks!!!! It is truly disgusting in and of itself.

  3. Watching2017 says:

    I find it interesting that FL Dems are boycotting a view that even LEGAL immigrants and Native Americans hold: Our resources have been overburdened. But no… this is about racism? Mexico issues “travel visas” to illegal immigrants in the hopes our country will absorb them. These aren’t just Mexican and Central American people. They’re from a variety of countries. For FL reps to behave this way is in the direct opposite of the interest of the FL taxpayers. Our schools are overburdened our hospitals are overwhelmed. We had over 40k unaccounted illegals in Lale Worth alone. This is insane. Send the message back so they can do the work necessary to fix their own countries. We certainly send enough IS AID money to fund them. Or, in the alternative, cut off their aid to finance the services their people will need here. But at some point we have to take a realistic assessment: The influx of illegal immigrants has a hefty price tag, and those of us that were born here or came here legally should not be swept aside so the Dems can continue their platform of calling anyone who doesn’t agree with them a “racist”.

  4. Pogo says:

    Republicans certainly are sensitive (and incredibly hypocritical and cynical too) about the truth about Republicans. Not all Republicans are racists. Name one white supremacist who isn’t still celebrating Trump. Not all Republicans are Nazis and fascists. Name one American Nazi and/or fascist who isn’t still celebrating Trump. And some Republicans, I assume, are not happy with the all the crackpots and scum that have flocked to them. A testament to their willingness to accept any friend for the sake of winning.

    And then there’s Trump. The man who has fathered children with 3 different women is Trump. The man who lies like he breathes is Trump. The vulgar insane monster who proclaims himself the best at everything he says and does is Trump. The man who declares war on the rest of the world and praises censorship of the press, looting other countries in war (“… take the oil…”) is Trump. The man who approves of criminal acts of torture that the United States of America hung German and Japanese war criminals for is Trump.

    So now we have fascism re-branded as ‘alt-right’ and all the same old soulless monopolists, polluters, profiteers, and religious chauvinists and fanatics who have always formed the Republican party telling the rest of us to just give them a chance. They’re here to save the forgotten man. Yeah – after all that’s what billionaire bankers and oil tycoons do. Right?

  5. Sherry says:

    @ Pogo. . . an eloquent and very accurate and insightful comment. . . thanks!
    @watching2017. . . please cite your source for your statement: Mexico issues “travel visas” to illegal immigrants in the hopes our country will absorb them.

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