Gov. Rick Scott wants to close Florida’s borders to additional refugees from Syria in the wake of Friday’s terrorist assault on Paris in which at least one of the attackers held a Syrian passport.
Scott advised U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a letter Monday that the Florida Department of Children and Families, which receives federal funds, won’t assist efforts to relocate the up to 425 Syrian refugees destined to be resettled in Florida. “Following the terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris that killed over 120 people and wounded more than 350,” Scott wrote, “and the news that at least one of the terror attack suspects gained access to France by posing as a Syrian refugee, our state agency will not support the requests we have received.”
The Paris attacks, however, were masterminded by a 27-year-old Belgian who’s fought with ISIS, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, according to French President Francois Hollande, who said the attacks were “planned in Syria, organized in Belgium, perpetrated on our soil with French complicity.”
As the move doesn’t preclude federal officials from resettling Syrian refugees by working with local social-service agencies, Scott also asked in the letter for congressional leaders to prevent funding for such relocations to Florida or anywhere else within the U.S.
“As the federal elected body that exercises oversight and authorizes federal spending, please take any action available through the powers of the United States Congress to prevent federal allocations toward the relocation of Syrian refugees without extensive examination into how this would affect our homeland security,” Scott wrote.
Civil liberties groups almost immediately denounced Scott’s move to close Florida’s borders. The Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida, the state’s largest Muslim civil-liberties and advocacy organization, issued a release condemning “Scott’s divisive statement” to not support the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Florida. “In these moments of pain and escalated fear, we should be able to look to our elected officials to guide the healing process and refrain from harmful rhetoric,” CAIR Florida said in a release. “Gov. Scott’s un-American statement is in fact playing into terrorists’ goal to turn the world against refugees who are fleeing their violence.”
Appearing on former Reagan administration official Bill Bennett’s radio show Monday, Ryan said he is looking for the “best legislative option we have” and has directed lawmakers to come up with recommendations to determine how to ensure terrorists won’t be able to mix with actual refugees.
“Look, we’ve always been a generous nation taking in refugees,” Ryan said. “But this is a unique situation. This is a situation where you have single men coming over, which is not women and children.”
Scott’s letter came as Republican presidential candidates questioned the nation’s Syrian refugee policy, governors in a number of other states announced they wouldn’t accept more Syrian refugees, and Florida U.S. Senate candidate Ron DeSantis quickly moved to infuse the refugee issue into next year’s Senate race.
“We have to err on the side of protecting the American people and we cannot run the risk of bringing terrorists into the United States,” DeSantis, a Republican from Northeast Florida, said in a release.
Also, state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and his son, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R- Fort Walton Beach, offered support to Scott for any border-closing legislation.
The Gaetzes wrote in a letter that the terrorist attacks “in France underscore a stark reality — that no one anywhere is entirely safe from the murderous reach of ISIS and radical Islam. The president of France has called these attacks by ISIS against a civilian population ‘an act of war.’ European governments have closed or may close their borders. The increasing likelihood that mass migration of Syrian refugees may be infiltrated with terrorists makes it necessary that extraordinary vigilance be exercised before accepting this unplanned resettlement.”
The Gaetzes added that Florida has in the past “done its share” regarding refugees, but the “current circumstance is far more different and far more dangerous than any other time when we have been asked to open our borders and communities.”
Coordinated attacks by Islamic State, or ISIS, terrorists killed 129 people Friday in Paris and left hundreds injured.
An estimated 4 million people have left Syria due to its ongoing civil war, with many traveling to Europe. In September, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged the United States would take in 15,000 Syrian refugees in the current fiscal year and another 85,000 the following fiscal year.
Florida has already received a little more than 100 refugees, according to the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
Scott is not alone in seeking to block Syrian refugees from his state. Governors in Arizona, Arkansas, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin have also announced they will refuse to accept any more Syrians.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is running for president, said Sunday that U.S. aid should focus on Christians fleeing persecution in Syria.
“I think we need to do thorough screening and take in a limited number,” Bush said while appearing on the CNN “State of the Union” show. “There are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They’ll be either executed or imprisoned, either by (President Bashar al-Assad) or by ISIS. We should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, also running for president and also appearing on a Sunday news show, ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” said that the U.S. “won’t be able to take more refugees.”
“It’s not that we don’t want to,” Rubio said. “It’s that we can’t.”
CAIR Florida said Scott’s rhetoric legitimizes discriminatory actions against the Muslim-American community. “Even before Gov. Scott’s statement, CAIR Florida saw an increase in hate incidents towards the Florida Muslim community in the aftermath of the tragic Paris attacks,” the release said. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said Scott is blaming refugees for the violence they are escaping. “Not only is the settlement of refugees an obligation of the U.S. State Department, not state governors, but the U.S. refugee system is extremely rigorous, involving multiple background checks and vetting by the Department of Homeland Security,” ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said in a release. “By claiming in the wake of the tragedy in Paris that this vetting process is suddenly insufficient for Florida, Governor Scott is punishing refugees for the horrible attacks perpetrated by the kinds of terrorists they are trying to escape.”
–News Service of Florida
Ken Dodge says
With respect to Gov. Scott’s decision: “Surely, he can’t be Syrian.”
For the first time I have to agree with Rick Scott against our President’s wrong decision.
Why instead we do not aid and suggest to help furnish relocation of these refugees in Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and or United Emirates..they are not only Muslim countries but also our allies and better suited to have refugee camps for them that are closer to home when their home countries conflicts will end and they can move quickly right back to their countries of origin.
We can’t no longer risk or afford to bring refugees with all expenses paid that for worst can have infiltrated terrorist among them ready to kill us “a la Boston style any time”. What about instead not addressing our many homeless families situation residing in our surrounding woods first? Our unemployed with not only without a job, but also a roof or health care? Please Mr. President back off that bad refugee idea.
The fact that this is even an issue is ludicrous. It is a known, documented FACT that Isis has infiltrated these refugee camps. So, after all that has transpired in the last two days, we still even entertain the idea of welcoming this scourge of society? Somebody in charge needs to grow a set and draw the line. The days of “give me your tired, huddled masses” have long been surpassed by “Let me in, and I’ll carve your head off in the name of Allah”. Wise up, America.
Paris was just a minor “setback”.
ISIS has been contained.
It’s time to seal our borders.
We need a president who has the cajones to support the US.
Rick G says
Documented fact??? How do you know that information??? If we’re so afraid of Syrian refugees why were we taking in Iraqis at a fever pace?
Thank you Governor Scott. We just can’t let these men relocate to the US. We should spend the money to support them in the refugee camps.
Listening to our President made me think he needs a mental competency test.
Please explain the difference between our Tea Braggers, our Religious Right, our GOP and radical Muslims? All of these groups are terrorists and have no place in America.
Samuel L. Bronkowitz says
Let’s see- not only did these young male ” refugees” not stand up and defend their own country against threats- but now they, and those aligning themselves with them, don’t want us to stand up and defend our country against threats. Yeah, sure, that makes a lot of sense. How about, instead, we protect and defend the USA. I’m behind our Governor!
The Presidents request to bring more refugees to America from Muslim countries will prove fatal error in the chances for Democrats to win in 2016, maybe will be the fall out of his decision today if he doesn’t back off immediately. Big error.
Not only we have to be concerned to be on an airplane or airport today, but also to enjoy any large gathering of a sport venue, concert, movies or even going shopping to a large malls too. These dangers and risks have been a reality over and over again in our USA. Also reading that we have already contributed 4 billion to “refugee relief agencies” is anyone monitoring/auditing were those funds that we have to borrow end up? What about helping our own first, like I pointed above our homeless some of them veterans living in our surrounded woods and booted from everywhere with not social service to help them?
The governors have to be careful. It would be on them as well as the feds if one of the refugees turned out to be a terrorist. Maybe put the refugees in a central federal holding area for now until they can all be vetted, investigated, and properly identified. After that, resettle them slowly. IS is getting what they wanted, disruption and confusion in the west.
Jim R. says
It’s not disruption and confusion, it’s fear and cowardice
Gov Scott’s decision is the right one. Last month I talked to two policemen from Cologne, Germany. They said the majority of refugees coming in threw away identification so it was impossible to determine who they were. So much for “open” borders. Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia or UAE take any of the refugees? Trump is correct in his thinking. And, as a previous writer mentioned, these young men did not stand up and fight for their country when afforded the opportunity. Could be the prohibition of personal firearms maybe?
When we refuse to be generous, for fear of terrorist attacks, the terrorists have already won.
When we refuse to help those in need, because of fear of terrorist attacks, the terrorists have already won.
When we allow terrorism to change the face of our country, the terrorists have already won.
Now is not the time to become an isolationist, xenophobic nation as proposed by our Governor.. In fact, that is exactly the wrong reaction and, as CAIR Florida mentioned, is giving ISIS exactly what they want. Likewise, many specifically Christian organizations are calling for MORE aid and MORE support to those in and from Syria. UMCOR, Christian Aid Mission, the Vatican, and may more are issuing a call to increase our humanitarianism. To use part of the Vatican’s response (translated):
“[the attack on Paris] is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”
Governor Scott’s statement, and many of the comments on this board, stand in stark contrast to the response called for by many or our leading moral and spiritual organizations.
Now isn’t the time to close our boarders; now is the time to welcome more refugees.
Groot how much careful than frantically oppose Potus decision based on the danger of terrorist infiltration can we do. Maybe go to the capitol and express our reasons? Has been shown over and over again what some refugees turn around and do to us like in Boston they did. Virginia Tech another case: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=virginia+tech+murderer. One more case next with 6 USA citizens murdered in MN: http://rense.com/general60/dkdil.htm. Also in 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/us/20mall.html and on and on.
Is he really able to pull this off or is this just another publicity stunt?
I really don’t believe that he can stop it. Scott is just blowing hot air as usual.
What a Wussy says
Rick Scott is such a cowardly wuss. Makes me ashamed to be a Floridian. One terrorist out of thousands and thousands of refugees, ONE.
THE VOICE OF REASON says
Let them in with the proviso that they submit to monitoring. All telephones, all computers, all internet connections. Any form of communication. Indefinitely. Explain why.
If they’re not willing, they don’t get in.
We do not need any of these refugees. Gov Scott. you are 110% RIGHT!
The true ENEMY is a band of blood thirsty murders and cowards who come from ALL countries and all walks of society. They are called by many different names. Fascists, ISIS/ISIL, White Supremacists, Al-Qaeda, Nazis, KKK, Taliban, etc etc. They often use an insane radically twisted religious ideology to motivate other sick minded criminals to join them in their murderous scourge against ALL peace loving, civilized human beings. Their goal is to create TERROR!
* If we change our values and turn away the innocent- THEY WIN
* If we PANIC- THEY WIN
* If we act in FEAR- THEY WIN
* If we blame ANY religion- THEY WIN
* If we blame ANY race or culture- THEY WIN
* If we become even more divided- THEY WIN
* If we escalate military action to carpet bombing and taking more innocent lives- THEY WIN
Our horrific governor and legislature are playing the FEAR and HATE cards, and ALL terrorists everywhere are celebrating!
Pray that LOVE prevails!
Recently there was a heartwarming article pertaining to Syrian refugees
that moved to Palm Coast. If memory serves, the comments were mostly
of a positive nature. Boy has the tide turned!
Our borders aren’t being rushed by the Syrian refugees as it’s geographically
impossible. The process of vetting these unfortunate people is exhaustive.
It is UN-AMERICAN to refuse asylum to these refugees. Put me down as
a supporter for the 10,000 prospective refugees due here.
Our lives are forever changed by the savage animals that perpetrate terrorism.
I can never board a plane again, nor would I feel comfortable on a cruise ship.
Terrorism has succeeded in making me and many others feel unsafe.
But I’ll be damned if terrorism sways me to turn needy people and their children
away. I’m already embittered and don’t like how I feel about Islam.
In the memory of those lost – I will try to not feed that hatred that was instilled
in me by design on September 11, 2001.
Hatred is a cancer, and it will eat away at your very soul.
Jon Hardison says
1) Refugees aren’t simple bused in and released. Of all the ways there are to gain entry to this country, refugee status is the most grueling. They will already be monitored. They will be investigated by 4 separate branches of the fed. There story and origins will be gone over again and again… and yes. There will still be a chance that one bad guy will get in. But for all the effort that will take, 10 will have gotten in on Student visas. So the “FACT” that ISIL has infiltrated these camps is irrelevant.
2) Closing out borders to those in need is closing the door on what it is to be American. This is what we do. If you can’t stand the heat, as they say…
3) With all the attacks that have taken place, here’s a fact for you:
You have a statistically higher chance of being on a DC10 at exactly 37K feet that is suddenly struck by lightening but survives the strike with minor damage only to crash because an 12 year old American Bald Eagle with one foot and a human ear sewn to its back got sucked into the engine.
…on a Tuesday.
That being said, the very idea that Scott is being credited with having the “balls” to defend his State and his Country is an inversion of logic I simply can not comprehend.
It is clear from this and so many other things that Scott is without “boys”. He is bitless – without strength of character, moral fiber and sadly, human decency.
4) The only plan for ISIL that makes any sense is to put all the known members of Storm Front, the KKK and any other American terrorist organizations, on a bunch of planes, armed to the gills with their own guns, and drop them on Syria. If these two groups of idiots want a religious war, let’m have it. Instead of dropping bombs, we can use our drones to televise it. Everyone gets what they want.
Jon Hardison – 2016!
OMG Jon! What an absolutely splendid idea. . . LOL! Just sorry I didn’t think of it. . . LOL!
Can you imagine the sheet draped KKK cowards actually facing someone with weapons? I can see them floating through the air using their sheets as parachutes. The local mothers thinking it’s some kind of Western styled Halloween promotion or White Sale. The Isis fighters wondering if they are actually women wearing some new fangled burka for virgins only. Hummm. . . should they kiss them or kill them. . . .
OK. . . I’m all for your plan as long as we can also send Trump, Carson, the Tea Baggers in Congress and all the idiot governors who think they have the power to stop anyone from jumping in their pick up and driving across their state line! Trump in particular would absolutely love it. . . as long as it’s televised in Prime Time and he gets his private makeup artist to do his asinine comb over!
America can’t even take care of it’s own, so how do we provide the refugees housing, medical, food, clothing?
Chances of terrorists infiltrating are high because of the phony Id’s and passports.
Females, as well as males are suicidal bombers and just as vicious. Even a lot of children are taught at a very early age to kill Americans and anyone else in the name of the religious icon.
This is only a few reasons NOT to let refugees in. I don’t like Gov Scott, but I agree with his reasoning on this.
There is a time to be humane and a time to be sensible and realistic. This is the TIME to be REALISTIC and, protect our country as much as possible. As Trump would say, bomb the sh—t out of Isis and any other terrorist cause out of touch Obama isn’t going to do it and Hillary agrees with him.
Jon Hardison says
Can’t or won’t?
We have always been able to take care of our vets. We choose not to.
We have always had the means to effectively address our homelessness problem. We choose not to.
We have always been capable of providing our children with the best education in the world. We said, “Nope!”
Example: Congress went to the Army and said, “How many tanks do you need?” The Army said, “None. Please God don’t give us any more tanks. We’re up to our ears in tanks.”
Congress sent them more tanks because the manufacturer, who funds a crap top of campaigns needed to sell more tanks. Lets put this in perspective…
For the cost only 2 tanks, you could pay for more than everything these “PEOPLE” need to escape a hell few Americans can dream of.
Now keeping in mind that we CAN do it and do it safely, what other reason could our “Christian Nation” of “Values” and “Goodness”, “Best Country in the World” possibly need?
Land of the free. Home of the what? Say it with me y’all!!!
CHICKEN – SHITS!
JUST STOP IT! STOP IT ALREADY!!!!!!!