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Bob Buckhorn tells radio show he won’t “round up” Syrians living in Tampa

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Bob Buckhorn’s visit to a Tampa mosque earlier this month to show solidarity with the Islamic community seemed to be a rather non-controversial event, but not to the morning hosts at WFLA-970 AM radio on Monday.

Buckhorn’s visit to the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay came exactly a week after President Trump signed an executive order banning travel into the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries. The ruling was overturned last week by the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals.

“I thought that ban on those seven countries was an attack on Islam, and I can tell you, Teddy, when I was at that mosque, on two occasions there were grown men who came up to me who were in tears,” Buckhorn told AM Tampa Bay host Tedd Webb.

Webb then went on to ask Buckhorn if there were people at the mosque who came from one of those seven countries that Trump named on his executive order (Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Libya and Yemen), “You wouldn’t do a thing to round them up?”

“Not unless they had done something wrong,” Buckhorn replied, adding that it was important to screen refugees adequately and have control of our borders, “but that’s not the majority of people who immigrate to this country. It hasn’t been that way for generations. So, no, if they just happen to be from Syria, no I would not round them up. They’re not guilty of anything.”

Buckhorn was also pressed regarding the issue of whether Tampa is a sanctuary city.

The mayor has been consistent in saying that it is not, but added as always that he won’t be advising the Tampa Police Department to act as Customs and Enforcement officials in detaining undocumented immigrants unless they have committed a crime.

“That makes you a sanctuary city!” Webb interjected.

“Not necessarily” the mayor replied, repeating that if those people are found guilty of committing crimes, then they would certainly be detained. But they would not be detained for simply being undocumented.

“Undocumented? They’re illegal! They came into this country illegally, they broke a law to come into this country, Mayor,” Webb responded.

“They did, but I would tell you that we’re a nation of immigrants,” Buckhorn replied.

“We’re a nation of legal immigrants, Mayor,” Webb responded, later stating the premise that one reason Buckhorn might be so liberal on the issue is because “we know illegal immigrants convert into Democratic votes when they become legal.”

Buckhorn laughed before saying, “I don’t know that to be the case,” acknowledging that the Latino vote has been trending Democrat in recent elections, but that George W. Bush did receive 44 percent of the Latino vote as recently as 2004.

Buckhorn was also asked if he believed Donald Trump, 23 days into being president, should be impeached.

“At this point, no … I don’t think he has done nothing impeachable, but he’s made some decisions that clearly a lot of people have disagreed with.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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