Legislators, don’t pass bill

How far will Florida officials go to demonstrate that they don’t agree with terrorism? This time it looks like they may have crossed the line.

Rep. Dick Kravitz from Jacksonville said he doesn’t like the idea of educating people who will return to regimes that oppose America. To change that, he wrote a bill that is now before the Legislature and, if passed, would ban state financial aid for foreign students who come from countries on the U.S. State Department’s list of countries that support terrorism.

This bill should not be passed. A law of this measure would discriminate against people who have done nothing wrong. Just because someone is born in a so-called terrorist country, it doesn’t mean they are a terrorist.

A notable part of the bill is that it will only ban six of the seven countries on the State Department’s list. Cuba was omitted from the bill, presumably because the state recognizes how large its Cuban population is. Thus, while the country is on the list of those that support terrorism, it seems Florida officials don’t want to lose the support of the state’s Cuban population.

However, if the bill is passed, students from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya and North Korea will be denied financial aid. This assumes that people from those countries support terrorism, while the truth is that they can’t control where they are born. They also assume that the students hope to return to their nations as educated terrorists.

These students may see being educated in America as a way out of their present situation or may stay in the United States and offer their talents in a positive way.

If the true intention of the bill was to limit the number of students coming in from all terrorist-supporting nations, then Cuba should have been included. Because Cuba was amended from the bill, however, it exposes the proposal as pure discrimination, not a security measure, as it is being promoted.

Legislators need to seriously consider the motives behind the bill before making their decision. They should also look at the supposed benefits of denying these students financial aid, versus allowing them to be educated in Florida colleges and universities.

Meanwhile, students can help by contacting their representatives and encouraging them not to pass this bill.