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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

In Tampa Bay, two lawmakers careful in response to Trump



WASHINGTON -- Despite gaining global attention, President Trump’s immigration restrictions made for careful voices among Florida’s congressional delegation, and Tampa Bay provides a unique take.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, each chose not to send out a news release. Rather, they took the passive path and required reporters to ask.

Here are the statements provided Monday evening, three days after Trump's order was issued. (A Bilirakis spokeswoman says he first commented Sunday night to local TV; A Crist spokeswoman did not reply to a question about timing. Later Monday night, Crist issued a fundraising email based in part on the issue.)

Bilirakis: "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.”

Crist: “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.”

Crist’s fundraising email:

If you were troubled by this past weekend's events, you're not alone. I watched as the Trump administration attempted to ban people from entering the country based on their beliefs. But I also saw people peacefully protest this decision, and saw lawyers and judges use the law to effectively block this executive overreach.

These are troubling times where we all must be vigilant in making sure that America continues to stand for the values it was founded on.

The next few days, weeks and months ahead will be important in determining the direction that our country moves in -- will we back down to this administration's harmful and regressive policies, or do we continue to stand up and push back against these actions?
The work will be hard, but I know we can come together and make sure that we keep America safe while making sure we continue to be a beacon of hope for people across the world who look to our shores as a place that they can come to pursue a better life for themselves and their families, as my grandfather and grandmother did more than a century ago.
We must continue to fight for the values we believe in -- that America is great because we are diverse, and that this democracy works because of people speaking out for the ideas that they hold dear.

I will proudly continue to fight as your voice in Washington.

- Charlie

(note: below "Charlie" was a red box that read "donate.")

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 1:17am]


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