Bill could block refugees from entering Florida

Posted at 5:19 AM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 07:10:42-05

A Senate Republican on Monday proposed a series of steps that could prevent at least some refugees and immigrants from entering Florida.

The bill, filed by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, does not mention specific countries but would seek to prevent the entrance of any refugee or immigrant who "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."

The bill comes about two months after Gov. Rick Scott called for closing Florida's borders to additional refugees from Syria after terrorist attacks in France --- a stance that drew criticism from civil-liberties groups.

Simpson's bill (SB 1712) would bar state and local officials from assisting in the resettlement of refugees who meet the definition of what the measure describes as "restricted persons." In addition, the bill would bar people who receive state funds from assisting in such resettlements.

The bill also would give the governor powers to prevent the resettlement of people in the state and would authorize the governor and attorney general to challenge federal laws or regulations that could lead to such resettlements.

Rep. Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, filed a similar bill (HB 1095) last week. The bills are filed for the legislative session that starts Tuesday.

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