Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has called for the deportation of any foreign nationals who have expressed support for Hamas or the group’s attacks on Israel.
Cotton sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security on Oct. 16 urging Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to prioritize the deportations in light of increased violence in the region. Cotton cited the Immigration and Nationality Act which calls for the deportation of any foreign national who supports terrorism.
“Federal law is clear that any alien who ‘endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization’ is inadmissible and must be deported,” wrote Cotton.
“The appalling explosion of anti-Semitism in the United States over the past few weeks should disturb anyone who shares American values,” wrote the Senate Republican. “While American citizens may have a First Amendment right to speak disgusting vitriol if they so choose, no foreign national has a right to advocate for terrorism in the United States.”
The Republican said the deportations should apply to any foreign national, including those who are currently residing in the United States on student visas. He referred to pro-Hamas foreign nationals as fifth-columnists – or a group that attempts to undermine the solidarity of a country from within its borders.
“Swiftly removing and permanently barring from future reentry any foreign student who signed onto or shared approvingly the anti-Semitic letter from the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee on October 7 would be a good place to start,” wrote Cotton.
Pro-Palestine student groups at universities across the United States released statements and published letters in support of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Although many university administrators have condemned the statements, wealthy donors are now threatening to pull promised donations to several institutions.
One of the first universities to face such an international conflict in the wake of the recent attacks and subsequent retaliation from Israel was Harvard University. The Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups released a statement co-signed by roughly 30 student organizations stating they held “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
Similar statements were released by pro-Palestine organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine, at George Washington University, the University of Virginia and the University of California-Berkley, per Fox News.
The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Tufts University said Palestinians were in the midst of “a historic attack on colonizers.”
“Footage of liberation fighters from Gaza paragliding into occupied territory has especially shown the creativity necessary to take back stolen land,” the group wrote in their statement. “It has not been without cost, as hundreds of Palestinians have been martyred in the past days, fighting to liberate themselves and their land.”
In a statement to the media following a negative backlash, university spokesman Patrick Collins said Tufts condemns “the terrorism and atrocities that Hamas has carried out against Israel.”
“We strongly disagree with and denounce SJP’s statement and want to make clear that no student group speaks for the university,” Collins said, per ABC3340.
Hamas has been regarded as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since October 1997.