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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida lawmakers in Washington react to Trump's immigration order



Sen. Bill Nelson, D

We have to do everything we can to protect ourselves from those who want to do us harm, but a hastily-issued policy that bans everyone from one of these seven countries from entering the U.S. – including the Iraqi interpreters who served alongside our troops in Iraq – is not the answer.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R

We generally support additional vetting for many of those entering our country from nations where the United States has identified there are serious concerns regarding terrorist activities and planning. But given the broad scope and nature of these policy changes, we have some unanswered questions and concerns. We are seeking clarity on the changes to the Visa Waiver program, which is critical to the economies of our respective states. And we are uneasy about the potential impact of these measures on our military and our diplomatic personnel abroad, as well as those who put their lives on the line to work with us.

We are both committed to doing what we must to keep America safe. We are equally committed to the defense of religious liberty and our tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution. Like so many Americans, we are both guided by our belief that when we stand before our Creator to face judgment, He will say that “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me."

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami

I am struck by the double standard and hypocrisy of those who are offended by this executive order, but who failed to challenge President Obama when he took similar action against Cuban refugees; especially since President Obama’s action was meant to appease the Castro regime and not for national security reasons. While it is always legitimate to express concerns with presidential executive orders, I understand the President’s primary responsibility is to keep the American people safe. The ban is only temporary until the Administration can review and enact the necessary procedures to vet immigrants from these countries. The ban is based on countries the Obama administration identified as ‘countries of concern’ and not based on a religious test.”

Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City

It's common sense to set a temporary pause on immigration from countries that are bases of Islamic terrorism and recruitment. These countries were identified by the Obama Administration because of their links to terrorist recruitment activities, not any faith. Travelers with valid visas or green cards, including brave Iraqi translators who served our armed forces, should be allowed in with extreme vetting, and I'm glad the Administration is taking steps to clarify this policy. But let's be clear that the threat is real, and the terrorists want to use our immigration and refugee laws as a Trojan horse to come here and kill Americans. This measure is a first step in strengthening our vetting system so the terrorists from these nations cannot use our laws against us.”

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland

Conveniently, the painful truth to some, and what is not being reported, is that President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton banned all Iraqi refugees for six months in 2011, all in the name of national security. President Carter invalidated Iranian Visas in 1980. The real question is why was the left silent then? Why are similar actions to keep us safe today being criticized by the left? The reason is obvious: there are those on the left that want to discredit and destroy the Presidency of Donald Trump, and the sooner the better from their perspective. Just as Presidents Carter and Obama and Secretary Clinton believed, and with ISIS in all corners of the globe, President Trump believes today that the same common sense security measures to protect the American people remain in order. President Trump is right to do all he can to ensure the safety and security of Americans until a system is in place to make certain those seeking to destroy our freedoms are not allowed in our country."

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Hutchinson Island

Our government’s first and foremost responsibility is protecting Americans, including knowing exactly who is entering our country and why they are here. Implementing a short-term ban on visas and refugee admissions to ensure our vetting procedures are keeping U.S. citizens safe is a reasonable approach. At the same time we must never forget that we are a nation of immigrants and a safe-harbor for those fleeing oppression. There is no greater country on Earth than the United States, and I am fully confident that we can both keep our country safe and stay true to the values that make our nation exceptional.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

The United States is and has always been a generous nation when it comes to welcoming those who seek refuge and want to contribute. I expect that these executive orders are in fact temporary and that after the Administration strengthens the vetting process, we can continue our tradition of welcoming those who are persecuted in an orderly manner and without any kind of religious test."

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton

Our nation has a proud history of welcoming refugees from around the world fleeing horrific conditions in their home countries, and escaping extreme violence and persecution to seek safety in the United States. In a direct attack on this proudly American value, the President’s executive order on refugees starts a period in which the United States closes its doors to the most vulnerable people, including children, seeking safety in our country. Our top priority is guaranteeing the safety and security of the American people, and I believe we need a thorough and comprehensive vetting process for all people seeking asylum or refuge.

However, the President’s decision - to slam the door on all refugees for four months and Muslim refugees indefinitely, and to cut by more than half the number of refugees seeking safe haven this year — will leave thousands of vulnerable families and children around the world in limbo, leaving them to suffer horrific atrocities and persecution.

This will mean the LGBT individual from Uganda or any country that criminalizes homosexuality, and the thousands of Baha’i, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim refugees persecuted in Iran, would continue to live in fear of persecution without any hope of being welcomed in our country where Lady Liberty’s torch will no longer light a path toward freedom. This Executive Order will not strengthen our national security, but it will leave thousands of families vulnerable to violence and suffering. Our nation has shut its doors to those fleeing violence before. We should not return to those days.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

I object to the suspension of visas from the seven named countries because we could have accomplished our objective of keeping our homeland safe by immediate implementation of more thorough screening procedures. I do note, however, that at least some individuals will continue to be admitted during this suspension period on a case by case basis and that the suspension period is temporary. In no case should this order be applied to individuals to whom visas have already been issued or who are already permanent legal US residents. ...

Both the letter and the spirit of the rule of law, on which our liberties rest, require that we honor legal commitments and procedures established by law, including existing visas and approved refugee status, absent specific articulable reasons for reversing a prior decision. The new Administration needs to pay careful attention to crafting orders that honor existing legal commitments and existing law, in contrast to this broad brush approach which doesn't focus on the precise problems.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston

The fact that President Trump failed to even mention Jews or antisemitism in his statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day was insensitive, disappointing and trampled on the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazi's during the Holocaust. But his omission is far more troubling in light of the fact that he chose that same day to ban Syrian refugees, halt all refugee admissions to the United States, and temporarily suspend all visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries. It’s an egregious ignorance of history, at the very least. But regardless of that, these are unacceptable actions to take on any day. We weaken our nation by turning our back on those fleeing from religious, political and violent oppression. We are a nation of immigrants, and we cannot quietly accept this.

As a representative of tens of thousands of immigrants, I will stand with my immigrant and non-immigrant constituents and fight this unconstitutional and immoral policy with every ounce of energy I have. As the granddaughter of immigrants who fled persecution in Eastern Europe, I will not allow history to repeat itself by barring people fleeing for their lives and watch them perish because America turned our backs. Never Again means something to me even when it clearly means nothing to President Trump and his administration.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar

I am outraged by @RealDonaldTrump’s #MuslimBan. It is illegal & a stain on America. History will judge us for this failure.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota

The President’s executive order puts the safety of Americans first. Intelligence officials have made clear that terrorists are leaving Syria disguised as refugees and carrying out attacks in the West. We need to stop accepting Syrian refugees as a matter of national security. I’m hopeful the administration will swiftly resolve any issues involving individuals with green cards as well as military interpreters who bravely served alongside our troops.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa

President Trump’s executive order targeting and banning legal permanent residents and refugees from war-torn areas is illegal, immoral and un-American.  It has made us less safe.  If the President wants to empower jihadists, this is the way to do it.

I am in contact with local refugee assistance agencies to monitor circumstances of families who may have been in transit.  I will remain vigilant and do everything possible to ensure America continues to provide safe haven to victims of torture and persecution as our country has done since its founding.

It is outrageous that President Trump has created a religious test and banned well-vetted victims of the Syrian civil war.  America's current vetting process is the most stringent in the world.  Banning Muslims, Iraqis and others who have assisted the U.S. military will empower our terrorist foes. Facts matter.  Trump is taking our country down a dangerous path based on disinformation and discrimination.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor

As the grandson of immigrants, I believe America has held, and must continue to hold, the longstanding tradition of welcoming those who are willing to work hard and contribute to our nation. I also believe we should have increased vetting of those entering our borders based on national security concerns. The seven countries included in the Executive Order have been identified by the State Department as risks to our national security, and I support efforts to temporarily halt travel as we work to assure the American people we’ve done everything possible to keep them safe. The issue of green card holders—legal permanent residents—being detained at airports should absolutely be addressed and corrected quickly. I am committed to ensuring the safety and security of the public, just as I am committed to upholding our generous and welcoming history as a country of immigrants.

Rep. Dan Webster, R-Clermont

President Trump made it clear on the campaign that this was a priority.  I am thankful to see President Trump is taking his responsibility to protect our country seriously and putting Americans’ safety first. I agree with the President that prior to issuing visas or refugee admissions, we must ensure our vetting process is thorough. President Obama acted similarly when he paused the processing of Iraqi refugee visas for six months in 2011. I look forward to working with President Trump, his administration and my colleagues in Congress to establish clearly defined improvements to our visa issuance and refugee admissions process. I am confident we can protect our homeland while remaining the compassionate nation we are to those who are tired, poor, yearning to breathe free or seeking refuge from persecution.

Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg

Our number one priority is to keep America safe. But we must also ensure that America continues to be the beacon of light and hope to the world. These policies are not mutually exclusive. We can and should take steps to improve our vetting processes, while also allowing refugees fleeing persecution to seek a better life in the U.S. The confusion and fear created by the lack of coordination around this Executive Order is shocking and deeply troubling. It also appears the so-called religious test it would implement is unconstitutional. The administration needs to rethink this strategy immediately.

[Last modified: Monday, January 30, 2017 8:30pm]


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