TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There was plenty of outcry from groups opposed to a House bill targeting Syrian refugees on Tuesday. Opposition calls the bill profiling.
Jacksonville Republican Lake Ray sponsors legislation allowing the governor and attorney general to block refugees from relocating in Florida if they’re believed to be a threat or from a country perceived as a threat. He said attacks in Paris and San Bernardino justify the proposal.
"God forbid these kind of attacks happen at Disney World or Universal Studios," Ray said.
Human rights advocates say if the bill becomes a law, it’s only a matter of time before it ends up in court
"The bill attempts to confer formal authority on the governor or attorney general, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, to be diplomatic, that won't pass constitutional muster," said Mark Schlakman of the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.
"It's absolutely discrimination," said Laila Abdelaziz of the Council on American Islamic Relations. "The bill language includes an amendment that exempts refugees from the Western Hemisphere so it's very clear what the intent of this bill is."
But the bill cleared its second House committee 9-3 along party lines.
"The truth of the matter is that there are people in the world who want to kill Americas," said Rep. Chris Latvala
The bill requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to screen refugees who come to the United States from outside of the Western Hemisphere. Opponents say FDLE won’t be able to do any better than the three-tier federal process refugees already go through.