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DeSantis wants colleges to expel, deport protesters who target Jewish students

Ron DeSantis gestures while speaking.
Phil Sears
FR170567 AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions from the media, March 7, 2023, at the state Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.

Governor Ron DeSantis said that college students in Florida have a right to protest the Israel-Hamas War but they should not be allowed to target Jewish students.

His comments came at a press conference in Palm Beach on Monday, April 22, the same day the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum called on colleges to do more to address a rising threat of antisemitism on campuses across the country.

DeSantis said he'd like to see American students at Florida universities expelled for harassing Jewish students, and an even stricter punishment for international students who do the same.

"I think the students if they're foreign students on visas, their visas should be canceled and they should be sent home. That should just happen,” DeSantis said.

Even though the state doesn’t administer visas, a person’s visa could be canceled if their admission is rescinded.

DeSantis said that, without any kind of repercussion, protests could become increasingly violent.

“And so the students do this stuff, and know there's not gonna be any repercussions. The minute there's repercussions, you will start to see a change in behavior,” DeSantis said.

On Monday, classes were virtual at Columbia University amidst days-long protests over the war in Gaza. Chabad at Columbia University said protesters told Jewish students to "go back to Poland," in an open letter published on social media over the weekend.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Anti-Defamation League have reported rising Islamophobia and antisemitism respectively on college campuses since October, when the war began.

Earlier this month, CAIR reported over 8,000 complaints of Islamophobia since the start of the war. About 8% of those complaints centered around incidents that happened at schools.

In January, the ADL recorded more than 3,200 antisemitic incidents since the start of the war. Over 700 stemmed from incidents at school.

Watch the governor's full press conference which was mostly about Everglades restoration here.

Copyright 2024 Central Florida Public Media. To see more, visit Central Florida Public Media.

Danielle Prieur
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