In the wake of the Hamas terror attack against Israel, and anti-Israel protests erupting across the country, some Republicans are shifting their attention on immigration away from the border and onto stopping foreign nationals who express anti-Israel or pro-Hamas views from getting into the U.S. legally as well.
The Hamas terror attacks immediately drew attention from conservatives and Republicans to the southern border, and the risk of terrorists getting in through past Border Patrol.
However, both the attacks and protests that emerged in college campuses and cities throughout the U.S. also raised new questions about potential restrictions on legal immigration — including in the refugee process.
2024 presidential candidates and GOP lawmakers have called for the U.S. to no longer accept refugees from Gaza. Reps. Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., and Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., introduced legislation that would block anyone from Gaza being admitted as a refugee, while multiple 2024 candidates have promised to do the same.
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“I don’t know what Biden’s going to do, but we cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees,” presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said during an event. “If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all antisemitic. None of them believe in Israel’s right to exist.”
“We aren’t bringing in anyone from Gaza,” former President Donald Trump said recently.
Separately, multiple lawmakers and 2024 candidates have come out in favor of revoking visas of foreign nationals who are seen to have celebrated Hamas at student protests and elsewhere. That echoes similar moves in Europe, where there have also been calls to yank visas from foreigners spouting pro-Hamas rhetoric.
In the U.S., Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., have written to the administration calling for Hamas supporters to be deported. In the Senate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced legislation to cancel visas for foreign nationals who “endorse or espouse terrorist activity.”
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“America is the most generous nation on earth, but we cannot allow foreign nationals who support terrorist groups like Hamas and march in our streets calling for ‘intifada’ to enter or stay in our country,” Rubio said in a press release.
It marks an emphasis shift of immigration priorities that have, for most Republicans, focused predominantly on illegal immigration and the southern border since the eruption of the migrant crisis in 2021. But legal immigration restrictions were a key part of the Trump administration — including the travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries, a slashing of refugee caps down to 18,000 a year, and efforts to implement additional screening of immigrants. Many of those efforts have been reversed by the Biden administration, with the refugee cap now at 125,000 a year.
Trump has promised a number of overhauls to legal immigration if re-elected, including the expansion of the travel bans for mainly majority-Muslim countries and a ramping up of ideological screening for all those coming into the U.S.
Stephen Miller, the former Trump White House advisor who played a central role in those restrictions during the Trump administration, told Fox News Digital that he welcomed the increased attention on legal immigration from fellow Republicans, but wants to see more.
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“I think there is now a tragically long overdue realization that we have made it far too easy in this country for people to get student visas, green cards, work visas, tourist visas, etc., who not only don’t support the value system of our country, but actively reject it — so hazardous is that is passed on to second and third generation immigrants and so it becomes a multi-generational problem.“
Miller, who is supporting President Trump for re-election in 2024, said he doesn’t believe the calls from Republicans for limits on refugees from Gaza go far enough.
“We got to where we are already in our current state over a period of many decades by accepting refugees from all over the world,” he said. “So this is not just a one country or a two country or a three country problem. This is a global problem.”
Miller wants to see a complete suspension of the refugee program and “the aggressive denial of visas to people in every country who fail to support our way of thinking in America.”
“The correct number of immigrants to bring into our country who hate America, hate Jews or hate the West is zero,” he said.