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Don Gaetz, Matt Gaetz call on Rick Scott to refuse Syrian refugees

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A prominent father-son pair of Northwest Florida lawmakers are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to join a push by a number of conservative governors to defy the Obama administration’s plan to accept more refugees displaced from war-torn Syria.

On Monday, state Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Matt Gaetz sent a letter to Scott urging him to not accept any additional Syrian refugees.

“We do not believe the federal government is prudent, wise or vigilant in bringing vast numbers of young Syrian males to our country and our state,” wrote the Gaetzes, who represent overlapping districts in Florida’s Panhandle.

The move comes after deadly attacks by an Islamic jihadist group in Paris last week.

“As you may know, the Governor of Alabama has informed the federal government his state will not allow this potential danger to be placed within its borders,” they wrote. “We respectfully call upon you to issue a similar order.”

The GOP lawmakers said such a move comes not from a lack of compassion, but rather an overriding concern for the safety of their constituents and neighbors.

“Florida has a rich tradition of warmly welcoming refugees fleeing from oppression,” wrote the Republican legislators. “However, the current circumstance is far more different and far more dangerous than any other time we have been asked to open our borders and communities.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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