GOP slams Biden admin for plan to import Gazan refugees before rescuing U.S. hostages

Republicans are crying foul over the Biden administration’s refusal to offer clear answers regarding its plan to import Gazan refugees.

Earlier this month Sen. Joni Ernst and dozens of her colleagues penned a letter to President Joe Biden demanding answers about his plan to import Gazan refugees.

“Your administration’s reported plan to accept Gazan refugees poses a national security risk to the United States,” they wrote. “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 further worried that accepting Gazan refugees might cause a crisis at the Egypt-Gaza border, leading to chaos that would only empower Iran-backed Hamas.”

“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,” they added.

The Republicans specifically wanted to know “how many Gazan refugees” the president planned to admit, how he intended to screen potential refugees for “terrorist links or sympathies,” whether the Biden administration had spoken to other “regional partners” about the plan, and where the administration planned to house the refugees.

According to Fox News, the State Department eventually responded with a generic letter containing already-known information about the U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who’ve been living in Gaza.

“The United States has provided support for over 1,800 eligible individuals from Gaza who have departed or want to depart,” the letter read. “This includes U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and their families, many of whom have come to the United States.”

“This also includes particularly vulnerable individuals such as children with serious health conditions including cancer and physical disabilities who require acute or specialized care in the United States or in the region. Any individuals from Gaza who have traveled or would travel to the United States are thoroughly vetted, as the safety and security of the American people is our top priority,” it continued.

Ernst wasn’t pleased by the deflection.

“The Biden administration is blowing off my work to prevent an Oct. 7-related attack on our own shores, which shows just how seriously this president takes our security,” she told Fox News.

“Instead, Biden is doubling down on his dangerous plan to welcome Hamas sympathizers to our homeland, despite the risk to American lives,” she added.

She was also unimpressed with the administration’s vow that any refugees will be “thoroughly vetted.”

“Make no mistake, I have seen failures in the vetting process before, and I certainly don’t want to see them repeated,” she told Fox News. “When Gaza’s own neighbors cannot properly vet friend or foe, there is no way our State Department can make those assessments, and they fail to provide concrete information otherwise.”

All this comes weeks after a report emerged claiming the administration is mulling importing Gaza Palestinians as refugees amid the Israel-Hamas war. The report was filed by CBS News via internal Biden administration documents that the outlet had obtained.

“In recent weeks, the documents show, senior officials across several federal U.S. agencies have discussed the practicality of different options to resettle Palestinians from Gaza who have immediate family members who are American citizens or permanent residents,” CBS News reported.

One option reportedly entails taking advantage of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to welcome Palestinians who’ve successfully fled Gaza and made it into Egypt.

This method would grant the Palestinians “permanent residency, resettlement benefits like housing assistance and a path to American citizenship.”

However, earning entry into the U.S. would require the would-be refugees to “pass a series of eligibility, medical and security screenings.” Also, the eligible population is expected to be very small.

In a statement to CBS News, the White House for its part initially appeared to publicly deny that such a plan exists.

“[The administration] categorically rejects any actions leading to the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza,” the statement read.

“The best path forward is to achieve a sustainable cease-fire through a hostage deal that will stabilize the situation and pave the way to a two-state solution,” it continued.

Vivek Saxena

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