The Biden administration’s top immigration official asserted before Congress that students visiting the United States on a visa ought to be ordered removed from the country if they support terrorist groups.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas agreed during an exchange with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during a Senate committee hearing Wednesday that foreign students who have espoused support for terrorism ought to have their visas immediately rescinded.
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The admission could set up countless college and university students for legal troubles as the fall semester ends, should the Biden administration move forward.
Rubio asked Mayorkas a question that he has faced in recent congressional hearings: whether current federal law deems a non-U.S. citizen as “inadmissible” if the applicant has espoused or endorsed terrorist views.
Mayorkas said he believed that that was the case.
“So what if you already have a visa, and then, while in the U.S. with that visa, you espouse or support terrorist activity? Shouldn’t that be an automatic cancellation of that visa?” Rubio asked.
“Senator, I would have to check the law, but I would understand that it might be a basis for the revocation of the visa and the removal of the individual. I’d want to check the law in that area,” said Mayorkas, who gave a similar answer when questioned by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Oct. 31.
Rubio pushed Mayorkas, the son of a Holocaust survivor, to take a stance on the policy.
“I think it makes sense that if you can’t get a visa because you espouse terrorist views or endorse terrorist views, then if you have a visa and you do that while a visitor — we’re talking about visitors to the United States — that visa should be canceled,” said Rubio.
“I would agree,” said Mayorkas.
“OK, good because I’m asking the administration to enforce that, and I hope you will. I think that’s important,” said Rubio.
Rubio issued a statement to the Washington Examiner following the hearing that called for the Department of Homeland Security to take swift action and follow through on Mayorkas’s stance in light of recent protests at college campuses in the U.S. where students have publicly supported Hamas, a terrorist group based in the Gaza Strip that attacked Israel last month.
“Foreign adversaries and terrorist sympathizers have no place in America,” said Rubio. “As we continue to face an increase in pro-Hamas sentiment, it’s in our national security interest to ensure foreign nationals seeking to harm our nation are prohibited entry. Those that are already here must be removed.”
Last month, Rubio introduced the Terrorist Inadmissibility Codification Act, which would explicitly block known members, officers, officials, representatives, and spokespersons of terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, ISIS, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from being admitted into the U.S.
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In fiscal 2023, which ended in September, Border Patrol agents arrested 172 people nationwide who illegally entered the U.S. from Canada or Mexico and were later determined to be on the FBI’s terror watch list. Those on the watch list are known or suspected terrorists and can include family members and associates.
The 172 figure is the highest annual number seen in Border Patrol’s 99-year history but is less than a hundredth of a percent of the more than 2 million people arrested at the nation’s borders illegally that same year.