Florida Republicans target scholarships, grants for students supporting Hamas
A new bill introduced Wednesday by Republican legislators could strip Florida college students of their scholarships, grants, and other benefits for “promoting” Hamas or other terrorist organizations.
Florida policymakers have tried to punish students for expressing their support for Palestinians during the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, which has heightened tensions across campuses. Florida has already tried to disband Students for Justice in Palestine at two state university while Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Republican presidential candidate, pledged to cancel student visas if anyone shared “common cause” with Hamas.
Florida taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing terrorist sympathizers, who want to harm us and others. This was the statement of state senator Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, who sponsored the Senate Bill.
Similar legislation has been filed in Florida’s House and Senate that would prevent students from receiving financial aid at state colleges and university if they promoted a “foreign terrorist group”. This would include Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad, as well as any other organization designated by the U.S. State Department as having the “capability and intention to engage in terrorist activities”.
These students would not be eligible for state grants, financial assistance, tuition assistance, or fee waivers. These students would also have to pay higher tuition rates for out-of state schools instead of the in-state lower rate.
The legislation also requires that colleges and universities report any students who promote terrorist organizations to Student and Exchange Visitor Program of United States Department of Homeland Security.
These bills were introduced only days after Florida legislators convened at Tallahassee in special session for the purpose of passing several bills that support Israel and sanction Iran.
Democrats will certainly oppose the proposal, and lawmakers will be considering it during the next session of 2024, which starts in January.
Anna Eskamani, a state representative from Orlando (D), posted on Facebook that the Florida Legislature would rather target students for promoting terrorism than address issues such as property insurance. “At the same time, actual domestic terrorists continue to have access to assault weapons.”
Eskamani, one of the few lawmakers to vote in favor of the non-binding Resolution that called for a “de-escalation” and a cease-fire between the State of Israel and the occupied Palestine during the Special Session.
DeSantis’ administration has tried to deactivate Students for Justice in Palestine at two universities in an attempt to show its support for Israel. However, it has not been able to do so due to legal concerns that have lingered. The disbanding of these groups has been questioned by free speech groups, while the Florida Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is against the state’s “equating” non-violent American Students, specifically SJP, with terrorists.
DeSantis is pushing for greater action against students, while running as the Republican nominee for president.
DeSantis stated at a debate in Miami last week that if you were here on a visa for a student and made common cause with Hamas I would cancel your visa. I would also send you home. “No questions asked.”
John Temple, a state representative from Wildwood (R), is the sponsor of this bill.