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US senators oppose Biden’s plan to welcome refugees from Gaza, citing terrorism concerns

Washington DC – U.S. Senators Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and 32 of their colleagues sent a letter to President Biden yesterday opposing his plan to welcome Gaza refugees into the United States, citing citing concerns about possible links to terrorists. The senators called on President Biden to instead focus his efforts on the return of Americans currently being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

A recent poll found that more than 70% of Gazans considered Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel the “right” decision. The letter comes as Hamas continues to hold five U.S. citizens hostage and this week released alleged video footage of two of the remaining hostages, including a U.S. citizen.

“Your administration’s reported plan to accept refugees from Gaza poses a national security risk to the United States. With more than a third of Gazans supporting Hamas militants, we are not confident that your government can adequately vet this at-risk population for terrorist ties and sympathies before allowing them into the United States… We are also frustrated that your government is moving forward with a plan to evacuate Gazans from the Gaza Strip while American citizens continue to be held hostage by Hamas. We demand that your administration stop making plans to accept refugees from Gaza until you adequately address our concerns and instead focus your attention on securing the release of American hostages held by Hamas,” the senators wrote.

The senators noted: “We must ensure that Gazans with terrorist ties or sympathies are denied entry into the United States – no easy task, considering that Gazans were the ones who brought Hamas to power in 2006. Without thorough investigation, your government may inadvertently allow terrorists posing as refugees into its homeland. This is especially the case because Hamas terrorists have a long track record of interacting with the civilian population in Gaza.”

“Unfortunately, the risk of terrorists entering our homeland is not a hypothetical issue. Border officials arrested 169 people on FBI terror watch lists in fiscal year 2023, a record number that surpasses the total for the past six fiscal years combined. Among the arrested terrorists is a Hezbollah fighter who planned to “make a bomb” and was on his way to New York. Given your administration’s staggering inability to stem the flow of potential terrorists at our border, how can Congress trust your administration to protect refugees crossing the Egypt-Gaza border, which is nearly 6,000 miles from Washington, D.C. , adequately investigated?” they continued.

According to the senators, in order to prevent a national security threat from coming to our homeland at taxpayer expense, President Biden answers how many refugees his administration plans to accept, what screening will take place to prevent terrorist sympathizers from reaching our homeland , the cost to U.S. taxpayers, whether the government has consulted with partners in the region, and the locations for refugee housing.

In addition to Senators Britt and Ernst, the letter was also signed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senators John Thune (R-S.Dak.), John Barrasso, M.D. (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) , Mike Rounds (RS.Dak.), Ted Budd (RN.C.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Rand Paul, M.D. (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Boozman ( R-Ark.), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebr.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) , Roger Marshall, MD (R-Kans.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Kennedy (R-La.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Thom Tillis (RN.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Nebr.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Kevin Cramer (RN.Dak. ), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jerry Moran (R-Kans.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

US Senators Katie Britt, Joni Ernst and colleagues Biden plan to bring poorly vetted Gazans to the United States is a national security risk