Saying the state House is "seriously reevaluating Florida's role" in refugee-resettlement programs, Speaker Richard Corcoran has asked President Donald Trump for better cooperation with Washington on the issue.
In a letter Friday, Corcoran described refugee services as a "one-sided partnership" in which Florida and contractors have to follow federal directives.
"Despite the state's legitimate concern with security risks --- a concern even more compelling in Florida given recent tragedies perpetrated by terrorists --- there is no opportunity for Florida to institute more rigorous scrutiny of people coming to our state and receiving our services," Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, wrote. "In 2016, nearly 700 persons from Syria, more than 300 persons from Iraq, and nearly 200 persons from Afghanistan were brought to Florida as part of the refugee program. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement received no information from the Department of Homeland Security or other federal agencies about these individuals and is severely hampered in any effort to differentiate between true refugees and persons who pose a threat to Floridians."
The speaker's office said the letter was sent before Trump issued a controversial executive order that, in part, temporarily halted refugees from coming to the United States.
It also came a day after Democrats walked out of a House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee meeting to protest a speaker with a history of inflammatory statements about minorities and immigrants.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, had been invited to testify during a discussion of resettling refugees, particularly those from war-torn Syria.