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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A pair of civil liberties groups have denounced Gov. Rick Scott’s desire to close Florida’s borders to additional refugees from Syria in the wake of the terrorist assault on Paris.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) 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.”
In a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Scott said that the state 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.
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.
CAIR Florida said Scott’s stance 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.”
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.