It’s been a baptism by fire for Florida’s freshest faces in Congress as they quickly adapt and react to the latest waves made by President Donald Trump’s executive order indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from entering the country and barring other refugees from entering the country for 120 days.
The order caused a storm of controversy over the weekend, prompting protests on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and at airports nationwide.
Here’s where Florida's congressional freshmen stand on Trump’s executive order:
Rep. Matt Gaetz: SUPPORT
"Like so many Americans, I watched media coverage of President Trump's announcement of executive orders requiring a cessation of refugees and visitors from seven countries that President Obama coined "areas of concern." President Trump's orders prove that yet again, he will act when the former administration would only talk and deliberate.
A ninety-day pause to consider and implement new changes is entirely appropriate. I would like to extend my appreciation to the hardworking federal and state officials who implemented the new rule this weekend.”
Dr. Neal Dunn: SUPPORT
“It's common sense to set a temporary pause on immigration from countries that are bases of Islamic terrorism and recruitment. These countries were identified by the Obama Administration because of their links to terrorist recruitment activities, not any faith. Travelers with valid visas or green cards, including brave Iraqi translators who served our armed forces, should be allowed in with extreme vetting, and I'm glad the Administration is taking steps to clarify this policy. But let's be clear that the threat is real, and the terrorists want to use our immigration and refugee laws as a Trojan horse to come here and kill Americans. This measure is a first step in strengthening our vetting system so the terrorists from these nations cannot use our laws against us.”
Rep. John Rutherford: SUPPORT
“The United States has been and will continue to be a nation of immigrants that welcomes people from around the world that love this land. But we must protect our citizens first and foremost by ensuring that we keep would-be terrorists from exploiting our visa and refugee programs,” Rutherford told Florida Politics. “I support increased vetting of travelers from countries that are known sponsors and harbors of terrorism, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to strengthen our vetting of foreign travelers."
Rep. Charlie Crist: OPPOSE
“Our number one priority is to keep America safe. But we must also ensure that America continues to be the beacon of light and hope to the world. These policies are not mutually exclusive. We can and should take steps to improve our vetting processes, while also allowing refugees fleeing persecution to seek a better life in the U.S.
“The confusion and fear created by the lack of coordination around this Executive Order is shocking and deeply troubling. It also appears the so-called religious test it would implement is unconstitutional. The administration needs to rethink this strategy immediately.”
Rep. Val Demings: OPPOSE
“This isn’t a Muslim issue, this is an American issue. We are hearing stories from around the nation and the world, stories of children, families, and students who are unlawfully being detained or denied the right they earned to enter the United States. It is unconstitutional and offensive.
“We must call this executive order what it is, discrimination."
Rep. Al Lawson: OPPOSE
"I am disappointed by Mr. Trump’s order banning Muslims from entering our country. This is irresponsible & dishonors our values as a nation."
Rep. Darren Soto: OPPOSE
"Trump's Muslim Ban is unnecessary, unconstitutional & Un-American."
Rep. Stephanie Murphy: OPPOSE
"I strongly oppose the President's executive orders on refugees, which violate fundamental American values and undermine our national security. We must work in a bipartisan manner to strengthen our refugee policy in a way that keeps us secure AND upholds our values."
Rep. Brian Mast: SUPPORT:
"Our government’s first and foremost responsibility is protecting Americans, including knowing exactly who is entering our country and why they are here. Implementing a short-term ban on visas and refugee admissions to ensure our vetting procedures are keeping U.S. citizens safe is a reasonable approach. At the same time we must never forget that we are a nation of immigrants and a safe-harbor for those fleeing oppression. There is no greater country on Earth than the United States, and I am fully confident that we can both keep our country safe and stay true to the values that make our nation exceptional.”
Rep. Francis Rooney: SUPPORT
"We need to protect our citizens and secure our porous borders. These are the primary responsibilities of the federal government. In the past few years, radical Islamic extremists have repeatedly attacked innocent civilians around the world. The memories of the massacres in Paris, Nice and Berlin are pressing. We have been victims of terrorism at home too, with the deadly attacks of San Bernardino and the Boston Marathon still fresh in our minds.
Our visa system, based on trust, is woefully inadequate to meet the threat which is presented by emigration from the Middle East. We are lacking processes to assure that anyone entering the United States has been thoroughly vetted and poses no threat to our country and its citizens. This is what the President is seeking to address. Half of the people in the United States illegally right now came in on a legal visa and overstayed it.
There has been much discussion in the press about the order issued on Friday; some accurate, some not.
First, the executive order bans refugee admissions to the United States for a period of 120 days and caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. These are refugees, not visa holders. They have no inherent claim of right to be admitted into the United States. It is important to note that in 2011, President Barack Obama issued a six month ban on Iraqi refugees entering the U.S., but there was no outrage from the liberal media then.
Second, the order bans, for a ninety day period, those seeking to enter the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, although exceptions can be made by the Secretaries of State or Homeland Security on a case by case basis. The purpose of this ban is to have time to put procedures and processes in place to gain control over our borders and assure the American people that we know who is coming in, why and what they will do here. We should demand no less than these basic safeguards from our government."
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.