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Florida House Democrats Protest Controversial Speaker

House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Florida House of Representatives
Florida House of Representatives

Florida House Democrats protested Republican Speaker Richard Corcoran’s decision to give a platform to a man they said is a racist.

House Democrats walked out of a committee meeting Thursday morning during Mark Krickorian’s presentation. Krickorian is executive director of the Center for Immigrant Studies, an anti-immigration think tank. It was founded by a self-described white nationalist in 1985. House Speaker Richard Corcoran said he listened to Democrats concerns, but adds they could have stayed and challenged Krickorian’s views.

“The way you fight speech that you don’t like is with more free speech," he said. "That’s not me, I’m quoting Justice Brandeis. That’s how you maintain freedom, that’s how you maintain that power.”

Krickorian talked about stopping Middle Eastern and African refugees from being resettled in Florida. Most refugees in Florida are from Cuba and Haiti.

“I would submit it’s morally indefensible to resettle refugees in the West if the alternative is that we could be spending that money protecting 12 times more people where they have found refuge in, say Turkey or Lebanon now,” he said.

Governor Rick Scott has opposed Syrian refugee resettlement in the state. Some Republican state lawmakers want the state to pull out of the federal refugee resettlement program. That wouldn’t stop the federal government from resettling refugees in any state. But a draft proposal from the Trump Administration would ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries like Syria and Somalia.

Sarah Mueller is a journalist who has worked for media outlets in several states since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010 and worked as a print reporter covering local government and politics.