The Biden administration has confirmed that it has the authority to revoke the visas of foreign nationals who are living in the U.S. but who support terrorist groups such as Hamas – just as Republicans are urging the government to crack down on pro-Hamas foreigners.
In a letter to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the State Department confirmed that Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization and that the State Dept. has the power to revoke visas.
“The Department of State also has broad authority under the [Immigration and Nationality Act] to revoke visas,” the agency said. “We exercise the authority when there is information or evidence indicating a visa holder may be ineligible for a U.S. visa.”
Additionally, it said that when it receives “derogatory information” indicating ineligibility, it takes “immediate action” which can include revocation of visas.
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Even after issuance of a visa, the Department of State works closely with the Department of Homeland Security and other partner agencies to ensure every visa applicant is continuously screened to ensure they remain eligible for travel to the United States,” it told Rubio.
The department also said it “shares your outrage regarding Hamas’ brutal attack against the State of Israel and its citizens.”
“State Department confirms they have the power to revoke the visas of Hamas supporters and deport them. Now they need to do it,” Rubio said in response.
Additionally, a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the department has broad authority to revoke visas “when there is any indication that an applicant poses a threat to U.S. national security, including when the applicant is potentially ineligible for a visa under any of the INA’s security-related grounds of ineligibility.”
“For example, the Department uses that revocation authority if there is reason to suspect that an individual has provided material support to a foreign terrorist organization,” they said.
“Maintaining robust screening standards for visa applicants is a dynamic practice that must adapt to emerging threats,” they said. ” We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes and to support legitimate travel and immigration to the United States while protecting U.S. citizens.”
As for whether any visas have been revoked, the spokesperson said that visa records are confidential under U.S. law and it therefore cannot discuss specific visa cases.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications,” the agency said.
Those answers come a week after Rubio quizzed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the matter, noting language in statute that those who espouse terrorist views are to be denied visas. Mayorkas said that espousing or supporting terrorist activisty could be the basis for the revocation and deportation of an individual.
“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,” Rubio said.
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“I would agree,” Mayorkas responded.
The agreement puts the Biden administration on the same page as many Republicans, who have urged the government to revoke visas if foreign nationals have espoused pro-Hamas views.
The issue has been zeroed in on by some lawmakers in the wake of the Hamas terror attacks on Israel, which has led some to call for greater restrictions on both illegal immigration and legal immigration as a consequence.
Nineteen lawmakers last month wrote to the administration calling specifically for the revocation of student visas from those involved in protests that glorify the terror group.
“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.
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Rubio has also led a resolution calling for the government to “revoke visas and initiate deportation proceedings for any foreign national who has endorsed or espoused the terrorist activities of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah,” or other terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was blasted this week after its administrators acknowledged the university stopped short of expelling anti-Israel student protesters because of “visa issues.