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Feds Could Cut Refugee Funding If Florida Pulls Out Of Resettlement Program

Steven Martin via Flikr

Florida gets a lot of federal funding for refugees, including people entering the state from Cuba and Haiti. But that money could go away if legislation passes pulling the state out of the federal refugee resettlement program.

According to a legislative analysis, the state got more than $250 million last year for refugee services. The legislation pulling the state out of the federal refugee resettlement program targets Syrian refugees.But most of the refugees into Florida are from Cuba and Haiti.

Credit Steven Martin via Flikr / WFSU News

Mark Schlakman with Florida State University’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights said Congress extended refugee benefits decades ago to people entering Florida from Cuba and Haiti. The federal government could reallocate what Florida currently gets to other states.

“It could be a cue for the states to go back to Congress to get that special status that Florida’s had since 1980 revisited and basically set aside so they would get the value of those federal funds,” he said.

Most of the refugees into Florida are from Cuba. Schlakman says he thinks lawmakers didn’t realize the state could lose the federal funding.

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Sarah Mueller is the first recipient of the WFSU Media Capitol Reporting Fellowship. She’ll be covering the 2017 Florida legislative session and recently earned her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois Springfield. Sarah was part of the Illinois Statehouse press corps as an intern for NPR Illinois in 2016. When not working, she enjoys playing her yellow lab, watching documentaries and reading memoirs.
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