TALLAHASSEE (FOX 13)
Gov. Rick Scott said the state will not be willing to accept any refuges from Syria, adding Florida to the growing list of states changing their minds in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
After reports that one of the Paris terrorists posed as a Syrian refugee to gain access to Europe, Scott asked the federal government Monday not to send any Syrian refugees to Florida.
"We are probably the best melting pot in the world, Florida is," Scott said. "Let's find out what happened, especially when you find out one of the terrorists was posed as a refugee."
The governor's words elicited sharp criticism from the country's largest Islamic civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Why is he so weak that he is giving in to the demands of terrorist organizations?" asked CAIR's Florida chapter executive director, Hassan Shibly. "We fear that may incite further acts of violence, because they see they are getting exactly what they want."
Shibly points out a study by the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute that says of 784,000 refugees that have resettled in the United States since 9/11, only three were accused of plotting terrorism.
Further, the study said refugees endure a two-year screening process by American intelligence agencies.
"They're escaping from ISIS," said Shibly. "They are the victims of ISIS."
None of the terrorists in France have been confirmed to be Syrian refugees, though one reportedly posed as one.
The 25 state governors who said no to refugees, 24 of them being Republicans, insist they're playing it safe.
"It is imperative that Texas do everything we can to ensure that we don't have a Syrian refugee sneak into the state of Texas who can pose a similar terrorist nature," said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
LINK: Read the letter (PDF)
Scott acknowledges that his wish to stop refugees from coming to Florida is not binding. The Federal government can fund the relocations on their own.
Scott has asked Congress to take immediate action to prevent that.
President Barack Obama had pledged to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States in the next 12 months.