U.S. Senators Katie Britt, Joni Ernst, Colleagues: Biden Plan to Bring Poorly Vetted Gazans to United States is a National Security Risk

May 3, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 3, 2024 — U.S. Senators Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and 32 of their colleagues yesterday sent a letter to President Biden opposing his plan to welcome Gazan refugees into the United States, citing concerns of potential terrorist ties. The Senators called on President Biden to instead focus his efforts on returning Americans currently held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

 A recent poll found that over 70% of Gazans viewed Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel as the “correct” decision. This letter comes as Hamas still holds five American citizens hostages and this week released purported video footage of two of the remaining hostages, including an American citizen.

“Your administration’s reported plan to accept Gazan refugees poses a national security risk to the United States. With more than a third of Gazans supporting the Hamas militants, we are not confident that your administration can adequately vet this high-risk population for terrorist ties and sympathies before admitting them into the United States…We are also frustrated that your administration is pushing ahead with a plan to evacuate Gazans from the Strip when there are still American citizens held hostage by Hamas. We demand that your administration cease planning for accepting Gazan refugees until you adequately answer our concerns and focus your attention instead on securing the release of U.S. hostages held by Hamas,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators noted, “We must ensure Gazans with terrorist ties or sympathies are denied admission into the United States—no easy feat, given the fact that the Gazans were the ones who voted Hamas into power in 2006. Without thorough vetting, your administration may inadvertently accept terrorists posing as refugees into the interior. This is especially the case as Hamas terrorists have a long track record of co-mingling with civilian populations in Gaza.”

“Unfortunately, the risk of terrorists entering our homeland is no hypothetical matter. Border officials have arrested 169 people on the FBI terror watch lists in Fiscal Year 2023, a record-setting number that exceeds the total of the last six fiscal years combined. Apprehended terrorists include a Hezbollah fighter who intended “to make a bomb” and was headed for New York. Given your administration’s abject failure at countering the flow of potential terrorists at our border, how can Congress trust your administration to adequately vet the refugees crossing the Egypt-Gaza border, located nearly 6,000 miles away from Washington, D.C.?” they continued.

To prevent bringing a national security threat into our homeland at the taxpayer’s expense, the Senators requested President Biden answer how many refugees his Administration is planning to accept, what screening will be in place to prevent terrorist sympathizers from reaching our homeland, the cost to the American taxpayer, whether the Administration 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 (R-S.Dak.), Ted Budd (R-N.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, M.D. (R-Kans.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Kennedy (R-La.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Nebr.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.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.).

The full text of the letter can be found here