Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations condemns Scott's stance on Syrian refugees
In a scathing response to Gov. Rick Scott's decision Monday to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in Florida, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called his actions "divisive" and "un-American."
"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," said the statement from the Florida chapter of CAIR. "Governor Scott's un-American statement is in fact playing into terrorists' goal to turn the world against refugees who are fleeing their violence."
Scott joined more than half the nation's governors yesterday in ceremoniously blocking the entrance of Syrian refugees into their states and refusing them resettlement services. It's important to note, however, that governors don't actually have the authority to control their own borders. That power lies with Congress, which Scott addressed in a letter Monday, demanding that leaders in Washington block Syrian refugees from coming to the United States at all.
The wave of reaction Monday from government officials came after a series of orchestrated attacks, including mass shootings and suicide bombings, that killed at least 129 people in Paris on Friday. Hundreds more were injured. The terrorist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, has claimed responsiblity.
Scott's reaction is particularly noteworthy, as Florida accepts more refugees than any other state in the country, mostly from Cuba. In the last year, 104 Syrians have made Florida home, and 36 settled in Hillsborough County, more than any other county in the state. The next closest county was Miami-Dade with 20. Pinellas and Duval counties each had 17. Pasco County received four Syrian refugees.
In its statement, CAIR encourged Scott to inform himself on the refugee resettlement process, which involves rigorous background checks and usually takes between 18 and 24 months.
"As members and partners of Refugee Resettlement Taskforce groups, we are very aware of the challenges facing refugee resettlement agencies in our state," the CAIR statement said. "Rather than isolating and stigmatizing refugee communities, we urge Governor Scott to meet with resettlement agencies to understand the programs and opportunities afforded to refugees from all over the world."
For more information on local and national reaction to last week's attacks in Paris, read these stories:
- Some governors, including Florida's Rick Scott, challenge plan to accept Syrian refugees
- Q&A: U.S. process of admitting Syrian refugees includes security vetting
- As top Florida destination for Syrian refugees in past year, Tampa Bay grapples with Paris attacks
- FBI investigating attack threat against St. Petersburg mosque