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Luis Viera wants Tampa to welcome Afghan refugees

The Tampa City Council member plans to offer a resolution Thursday asking the city, county and social service agencies to provide a welcome mat for Afghans fleeing the Taliban.
Tampa City Council member Luis Viera's resolution in support of the Cuban protests  passed last month. On Thursday, he'll offer another resolution in support of Afghan refugees.
Tampa City Council member Luis Viera's resolution in support of the Cuban protests passed last month. On Thursday, he'll offer another resolution in support of Afghan refugees. [ Charlie Frago ]
Published Aug. 19
Updated Aug. 20

TAMPA — Luis Viera, who made news last month, with a resolution in support of the protests in Cuba, which sparked some drama at City Hall, plans to take another stand on international affairs.

Viera introduced a resolution asking the city to help Afghan refugees at Thursday’s City Council meeting. Council members voted unanimously to advance the resolution to a vote on August 26.

“This country was there for my family in 1960 and we should be there for Afghan families in 2021. It’s the American Way at its best,” said Viera, the son of Cuban parents who fled Fidel Castro’s government. “The same American made the ladder that my family used to climb to the American dream is still working well today. Let’s promote that we use it here in Tampa.”

The resolution asks that the city of Tampa “express its unequivocal support of welcoming Afghan refugees fleeing persecution and terror into our actual community.”

It also asks the city government to collaborate with Hillsborough County “and other applicable public entities” as well as non-profits, charitable organizations and religious organizations to create a welcoming environment for those fleeing Afghanistan.

Viera’s resolution also asks “that all city residents remember our city’s and nation’s roots and history and welcome Afghan refugee families into our city and neighborhoods, schools, houses of worship and community institutions with compassion, love and tolerance.”

In July, Viera’s Cuban resolution brought a rebuke from City Council member Bill Carlson who called part of a “a publicity stunt.” Viera shot back, saying “you better check yourselves before you wreck yourselves.”

John Dingfelder, who voted with Carlson against Viera’s Cuban resolution, said he didn’t think local government should be concerning itself with international affairs.

Viera, elected in a special election in late 2016, represents North and New Tampa.

His resolution would be non-binding and, if passed, wouldn’t require action on the part of Mayor Jane Castor or county authorities. He said at the meeting that his effort would be similar to a resolution approved by City Council in 2015 in support of Syrian refugees.

The meeting begins at 5:01 p.m. and can be viewed online on the city’s channel on YouTube, local cable access channels and the city’s website.