Bill Could Block "Certain" Refugees From Entering Florida

Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Photo by H. Murdock, VOA, via WikiCommons,

Gov. Rick Scott's promise to bar Syrian refugees from settling in Florida has gotten an assist from a bill filed in the state Senate. Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) has filed a bill dubbed "Prevention of Acts of War," that would effectively ban "certain" refugees from entering the state of Florida and prohibiting anyone who has official business with the state from helping them. 

The bill is vague and doesn't specifically mention Syrians. Instead, it singles out "certain foreign refugees and immigrants." What does that mean? Well, according to the bill, any "foreign refugee or immigrant for whom there is reasonable cause to believe that he or she originates from, or has been in close proximity to, any location in which invaders or prospective invaders are known to originate or organize or train for violent acts of war." Invader means any noncitizen who plans to enter Florida with the aim of committing terrorism or waging war. The bill would mandate that the state conducts a background check on any prospective immigrants to see if they fit the criteria. 

That basically means if your country has bad people in it and you're attempting to flee from them, well, sorry, you wouldn't be welcome in Florida with open arms, because, well, you lived in the same country as those bad people. 

The bill would bar any state or local officials from assisting in resettling any of those restricted immigrants unless the governor approves it. Anyone who receives money from the state would also be barred from assisting with resettlement for five years after they receive their last payment. On the flip side, anyone who assists with resettlement would also be barred from receiving state money for five years. 

So let's say you're a Syrian immigrant already legally in Florida and you want to help bring your cousin here. Better hope you don't end up losing your job and need state unemployment insurance sometime in the next five years. Those would be state funds. 

The bill does not technically immediately ban any refugees from entering into the state but does give power to the governor to do so. It would empower the governor to use "police powers, emergency powers, and military force" to prevent "restricted persons" from entering the state. It would also call for Florida to monitor any "restricted person" who may be in the state. 

Scott has already said he would bar Syrian refugees from the state. This bill would give him the power to do so.


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