FIRST ON FOX: Nineteen Republican lawmakers are calling for foreign students who are in the U.S. on temporary visas and have expressed support for Hamas to have their visas revoked and be deported from the country — in the wake of the deadly terror attacks on Israel.
Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., — both members of the Anti-Woke Caucus — have led the letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expressing concern about reports of pro-Hamas demonstrations.
“We write to request information regarding the potentially unlawful presence on U.S. soil of non-immigrant foreign nationals who have endorsed terrorist activity,” they say.
They note that students on student visas can be disqualified under the Immigration and Nationality Act from being eligible for a visa if they endorse or espouse terror activity. While that is normally checked at the time they apply for their visa, holders can also have their visa revoked if they breach the terms of their visa.
The lawmakers highlight a number of pro-Palestinian protests in universities and colleges across the country, including reports of throat-slitting gestures and statements that praise terrorists as “liberation fighters” and “martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for liberation.”
Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. since 1997.
“Others student demonstrator slogans and memes, such as the paraglider terrorist, are most reasonably interpreted as endorsing or espousing terrorism. Similarly, praising mass murder as ‘creative’ or ‘valiant’ and glorifying the perpetrators of such atrocities as’”martyrs’ are clear endorsements of terrorism and terrorist organizations,” the lawmakers say.
They note that it is likely that some of those involved are holders of either F-1 student visas or J-1 exchange visitor visas. There were over 437,000 F-1s issued in FY 2022 and 315,000 J-1s.
“Foreign students contribute much to our society, but individuals who advocate terrorist violence against civilians are not welcome here. If a visa was issued before DHS uncovers evidence of a visa-holder’s ineligibility under INA s.212(a)(3)B), in the interest of national security, the individual in question should immediately have their visa revoked and face expedited deportation proceedings,” they say.
They ask the agencies whether they have any reason to believe that any non-immigrant visa holders have been made ineligible due to their participation in such support for Hamas, and if the agency has made any moves yet to revoke or reviews visas as a result.
The push has the support of Heritage Action, which commended the lawmakers for their action on the matter.
The letter comes amid growing concerns from Republicans over the presence of either terrorists or terror supporters in the U.S. from abroad. Multiple Republicans in both the House and the Senate have warned about the potential for terrorists to come into the U.S. via the southern border — it is a threat DHS has recognized, while also highlighting the action it is taking to neuter that threat.
“America welcomes individuals around the world to follow the legal process to come to this country for tourism, work, or academic study,” Duncan said in a statement. “However, we specifically prohibit visas to anyone who supports terrorist regimes in Section 212(a) of the [INA].”
“If you’re a visitor to our country and support Hamas’ gruesome murder of innocent babies and killing people while they sleep, then you do not get to remain in America and enjoy freedoms that are antithetical to the terrorist extremists you support,” he said. “Americans refuse to allow antisemitic terrorist sympathizers to create home-grown terrorist cells on our soil. Americans should never support terrorists over innocent people fighting for freedom from oppression.”
“We’ve already had a record number of illegal immigrants from terrorist-harboring nations,” Banks said. “We need to shut down our border and then deport all non-citizen Hamas sympathizers The Biden administration has the legal authority and an obligation to do both—anything less betrays America’s national security.”