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Florida Lawmakers React To Federal Travel Ban

Gov. Rick Scott, undated.
Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Governor Rick Scott and President Donald Trump are political allies. But Scott is refusing to say what his position is on the president’s travel ban.

Trump is temporarily halting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. The order also temporarily restricts entry for all refugees and brought an indefinite halt to the Syrian refugee resettlement program.

Governor Rick Scott opposed Syrian refugees coming into Florida last year. But the state also depends economically on tourism and global trade. Scott didn't say whether he agrees with the administration’s immigration ban.

“I just saw a number that about a third of the people that moved here last year to Florida moved from another country," he said. "I mean, it’s remarkable, how many people moving here. So, we’ve got to do this right, but we know the system we have today is not working.”

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said her caucus will stand against any discriminatory legislation. She said the order creates a hostile environment for new residents, immigrants, and tourists, who are the backbone of the state’s economy.

“We don’t have a state income tax," she said. "We rely on sales tax and a big portion of that sales tax collection is collected from tourists. So I think we should think twice before we discourage any kind of tourism in our state.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) says it's time for Florida to have an independent redistricting commission.
Credit Nick Evans
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Top Republicans, such as Scott, are defending or avoiding directly giving their position on the executive order. Scott is widely expected to challenge Democratic Senator Bill Nelson for his seat next year. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, considered a contender for governor, said the state should be a welcoming destination for people from around the world. Muslim civil rights activists say no one from the seven countries included in the ban have committed a terrorist act in the U-S since the mid-1970's. The 2016 Orlando shooter was a U.S. citizen. And one of 2015 San Bernardino attackers was from Pakistan, a country not covered in the ban.

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.
As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.