Republicans are using the war between Israel and Palestine as fodder to push for a new wave of deportations at home.
On a campaign stop in Iowa on Monday, Donald Trump announced that if reelected, he would reinstate and expand his “Muslim ban,” a series of executive orders issued in 2017 that prohibited travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, calling for a “strong ideological screening of all immigrants to the United States.”
Trump also criticized pro-Palestine protests on U.S. college campuses, conflating the support for Palestinian freedom from Israeli apartheid with support for Hamas, the militant group behind more than 1,400 Israeli deaths.
The former president said he would also take the opportunity to revoke student visas from “radical anti-American and antisemitic foreigners” at universities and would “proactively” send ICE officers to what he described as “pro-jihadist demonstrations.”
“If you want to abolish the state of Israel, you’re disqualified; if you support Hamas or the ideology behind Hamas, you’re disqualified; and if you’re a Communist, Marxist, or fascist, you are disqualified,” he said.
Senator Marsha Blackburn joined the deportation chorus on Tuesday, announcing her co-sponsorship of a bill by Senator Marco Rubio that calls for a vote on the expulsion of “individuals who stand with and back Hamas.”
Over the weekend, Rubio called on the Biden administration to cancel the visas of foreign nationals supporting Hamas and announced that he would pursue legislation to restrict federal funding to college campuses that host protests supporting Palestinian liberation.
Senator Tim Scott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also took to the airwaves to vocalize their support for the growing GOP initiative.
“Anyone who stands up and says they want to kill Jews, they support terrorism, they should have that visa revoked,” Scott said on a podcast episode of The Sean Hannity Show.
DeSantis backed the Rubio proposal, noting on an airing of The Guy Benson Show that if someone supports Hamas, they “don’t have a right to be studying in the United States.”
On its face, proposing to deport or limit Hamas supporters’ entry into the country is not outrageous. After all, the State Department deemed Hamas a terrorist organization in 1997. But support for foreign terrorist organizations is already screened for in people seeking entrance into the U.S., so the new language utilized by Rubio and his compatriots achieves no policy gains but instead provokes fear and whips people into a frenzy at a time of historic tension and divisions. And at a time when lawmakers and the media alike keep confusing being pro-Palestinian with being pro-Hamas, it’s all but guaranteed such a proposal would be used in a very dangerous way.