The State Department under President Joe Biden is declining to revoke visas for foreign nationals in the United States who express support for Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senator Marco Rubio urged the agency to use existing federal immigration law to revoke the visas of individuals participating in pro-Hamas rallies.
Rubio pointed out that according to 8 U.S.C. 1182, an alien can be deemed inadmissible into the United States if they endorse or espouse terrorist activity. He emphasized that since Hamas is classified as a foreign terrorist organization, it is clear that a thorough review of all visa holders and applicants is necessary. This process should involve collaboration with federal and state/local law enforcement, as well as universities.
In response, State Department officials acknowledged that they have “broad authority” to revoke visas under the Immigration and Nationality Act but did not commit to taking action.
They stated that when derogatory information indicating potential visa ineligibility is received, immediate steps such as entering the information into U.S. government databases and revoking visas may be taken if deemed appropriate.
While the State Department confirms its power to revoke visas and deport Hamas supporters, action is yet to be seen. This development highlights the need for them to follow through with their authority.
Previously, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that the Biden administration would not revoke visas for pro-Hamas foreign nationals in the U.S., defending the First Amendment and peaceful protest.
In the fiscal year 2022, the federal government provided green cards and nonimmigrant visas, including F-1 student visas, to individuals from countries known to be supportive of Hamas. For instance, over 8,300 Iranians entered the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas last year.
Furthermore, more than 8,000 green cards were granted to Iranians in the same fiscal year, with over 800 being Diversity Visa Lottery recipients and more than 520 arriving as refugees.