Hamas Backers Could Lose US Visas

In a recent move by Republican members of Congress, there’s a push to expel individuals believed to be supporters of Hamas from the United States. In response, the U.S. State Department has acknowledged its power to withdraw visas from foreign nationals residing in the U.S. who have shown support for the Palestinian organization, which is recognized as a militant group.

In a communication with Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, the department affirmed its extensive powers under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to cancel visas. The department highlighted that this authority is applied when there are indications or proof that a visa holder might not meet the criteria for a U.S. visa.

As per the INA, individuals involved in terrorist activities or those who encourage support for a recognized terrorist group are prohibited from entering the U.S. It’s important to note that the State Department officially classified Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization on October 8, 1997.

The department further stated in its letter to Senator Rubio that it consistently collaborates with the Department of Homeland Security and other relevant agencies to continuously vet visa applicants, ensuring their ongoing eligibility for U.S. travel.

Last month, Senator Rubio had written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the revocation of visas for those participating in pro-Hamas protests. Rubio emphasized the need to use existing laws to eliminate such hatred from the U.S. and mentioned his plans to introduce new legislation aimed at preventing Hamas supporters and those backing other foreign terrorist organizations from enjoying U.S. privileges.

In its reply, the State Department echoed Rubio’s condemnation of Hamas’ recent violent actions against Israel and assured immediate measures upon receiving information suggesting potential visa ineligibility. This could include visa revocation when necessary.

Senator Rubio shared this correspondence on his social media on Wednesday evening, stating that with the State Department’s recognition of its visa revocation authority, it is now imperative for them to act accordingly.

Meanwhile, U.S. college campuses have been witnessing a surge in antisemitic incidents and protests following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. These protests have been advocating for a truce in the conflict between Israel and Hamas and calling for the U.S. to cease its support for Israel.

Such campus responses have been met with criticism from Republican politicians, noting a lack of significant action by university authorities in addressing these disturbances.