In the wake of pro-Palestinian/Hamas rallies occurring in Florida and nationwide, Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other Republican lawmakers in Florida have taken a hard line in support of Israel.
DeSantis condemned pro-Hamas rallies in Florida at which protestors chanted, “free Palestine,” and held signs saying Israel was guilty of “ethnic cleansing, genocide and apartheid.”
DeSantis said, “The rallies in Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale supporting Hamas are abhorrent. Hamas is a terrorist group that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and commits atrocities to further that end. We are proud of the relationship between Florida and Israel and remember well the support we received from the IDF following the Surfside tower collapse. Florida stands with Israel as it faces one of its greatest challenges.
“I have asked the Biden Administration to follow our existing laws by cancelling the visas & immediately removing foreign nationals who support Hamas. Any foreign national marching on our streets calling for ‘intifada’ or celebrating the slaughter of Israeli babies needs to go.”
In response to some claims that the U.S. should take in Palestinian refugees, DeSantis said, “It’s not our role to be absorbing people from there. If people are bringing in things [the ideologies of] anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism … that would be reason why you don’t get admission to this country to begin with.”
At a campaign event, he said, “as president the number of people we will bring in from Gaza will be zero. We are not going to do that.”
He also told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that “Gaza refugees, Palestinian Arabs, should go to Arab countries.” He also said all Republican presidential candidates should pledge to reject accepting any Palestinian refugees. “I just put my stake in the ground. That’s where we’re going to be, and I think that everyone running for president on the Republican side should follow suit.”
Rubio on Saturday urged the Biden administration “to cancel and rescind visas for foreign nationals who endorse or espouse terrorist activity, including those who defend or support Hamas by calling for intifada, jihad, or other similar actions to eliminate the Jewish state of Israel.”
He said that Hamas, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, “carried out the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust,” and many of the protesters, including rally organizers, supporting Hamas, are in the U.S. on visas.
“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,” he said. “The Biden Administration has the authority and an obligation under existing law to immediately identify, cancel the visas of, and remove foreign nationals already here in America who have demonstrated support [for] terrorist groups, and in many cases, even celebrated the slaughter of Israeli babies and the rape of Jewish girls.”
He also explains that federal statute, 8 USC1182, describes classes of “aliens ineligible for visas or admission,” which includes anyone who “endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization,” which he says includes “pro-Hamas demonstrators.”
The law also describes inadmissibles as “alien[s] whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.”
He also agrees with DeSantis, telling the New York Post, “[w]e are in no position to accept additional refugees, especially from a region with as high a risk of terrorism, given our nation’s inability to secure our own border or vet those who are already here.”
In fiscal 2023, CBP agents apprehended 659 known, suspected terrorists, the most in recorded history. The overwhelming majority were caught attempting to enter the U.S. through the northern border. Law enforcement officers have expressed concerns that far more have entered and no one knows how many or who or where they are.
Rubio also says he plans to introduce legislation to require the federal government to rescind visas of foreign nationals who actively support Hamas and remove supporters of Hamas from the U.S. The bill would also pull federal funding from colleges and universities that allow protests, demonstrations, and other activity “that can be reasonably construed to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support” a U.S. government designated FTO.
Florida is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the U.S. The Miami area has the second-largest population of Israeli-Americans in the U.S.