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Gov. Scott Balks At Feds Request To Take In Syrian Refugees

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Governor Rick Scott’s administration has balked at a request from the federal government to resettle hundreds of Syrian refugees in the state.

In an email this week Patti Grogan, director of refugee services at the Florida Department of Children and Families, told the U.S. Department of State that the governor had been dissatisfied with what he heard in a recent White House conference call on the situation.

“Following the terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris, Governor Scott participated in a White House conference call where a) the White House could not explain how America’s process for vetting Syrian refugees was any better than the French process for vetting Syrian refugees, and b) the White House stated they would not provide Florida law enforcement with background information on Syrian refugees the White House intended to relocate to Florida,” Grogan wrote.

More than 51,000 people — including at least 100 Syrians — received refugee services in Florida over the last 12 months.

In November, after President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. would take in an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees, the federal government moved to relocate an additional 425 of them to Florida. That number has since been revised to 518.

Due to Scott’s concerns about the vetting process, Grogan said, the state would not support the additional requests “to an already burdened system” without alleviation of concerns about the vetting process, disclosure to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement background information about each refugee and time for FDLE to review each refugee.

There are nine resettlement organizations nationwide, with 25 local affiliates in Florida. The groups work with the federal and state governments to find placements for refugees.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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