GOP Uproar: Arab States Shun Palestinian Refugees, But Guess Who’s Embracing Them?

Anas-Mohammed /
Anas-Mohammed /

So here we go again. The Biden administration is mulling over the idea of rolling out the welcome mat for Gazan refugees. Naturally, this has caused quite the uproar among GOP senators because nothing says “welcome to the neighborhood” like a national security debate.

According to an article by CBS News, our intrepid leaders in Washington are seriously considering allowing Palestinians from Gaza to resettle in the U.S., especially those who have the lucky ticket of American family connections. Sounds simple, right? Just a harmless family reunion.

Well, not so fast, says Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and her band of 34 GOP brothers-in-arms. They penned a fiery letter to President Joe Biden on May 1, practically begging the administration to hit pause on these plans. Their worry? Some of these refugees might have more on their minds than just the American dream, given the “high-risk population for terrorist ties and sympathies” in Gaza.

“We demand that your administration cease planning for accepting Gazan refugees,” the Senators wrote. Their letter was a mix of indignation and incredulity, questioning how we could even think of taking such a gamble in the land of the free and the home of the brave. After all, Gaza is practically run by Hamas, and according to these senators, checking backgrounds might be just a tad difficult when you can’t even get into the area without a Hamas hall pass. These Senators even suggested that Biden focus his attention “on securing the release of U.S. hostages held by Hamas.”

The senator issued a pretty stark warning: Hamas has the run of the Gaza Strip these days, which means U.S. officials can’t just pop over for a visit and vet potential refugees properly.

And let’s sprinkle some extra spice onto this political dish. A poll from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research dropped a bombshell statistic that 71% of Palestinians in Gaza were all in favor of Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. The poll revealed that 52% of Gazans support Hamas. Additionally, 93% of Gazans believe that Hamas did not commit atrocities against Israeli civilians, while 94% believe that Israel committed war crimes. No red flags there, right?

The letter also throws shade at the Biden administration’s border policies, which the GOP senators suggest might be about as effective as a screen door on a submarine. They point to Customs and Border Protection’s own stats that nabbed 169 individuals from the terrorist watch list at the border in fiscal year 2023. This is the highest annual number of “terrorist” apprehensions made by the Border Patrol since its establishment in 1924. Their point? If we can’t handle our own borders, how are we supposed to vet refugees from a Hamas-controlled enclave thousands of miles away?

“We must ensure Gazans with terrorist ties or sympathies are denied admission.” The Senators add that this is “no easy feat, given the fact that the Gazans were the ones who voted Hamas into power in 2006.” 

Adding more fun to the mix, the senators are baffled—just baffled—why the U.S. would even consider accepting Gazan refugees when even Arab states, who are geographically and culturally closer, won’t touch this with a ten-foot pole because of—you guessed it—security concerns.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform dropped a report in April that basically waved a big red flag about potential security risks. The report stated that the Biden administration has observed that some economic migrants are misusing asylum applications, refugee status, and humanitarian parole authority to gain quick entry into the United States.

So, as the administration contemplates setting up refugee processing centers in places like Qatar and Turkey, which is sure to make everything smoother (because adding more bureaucracy always helps, right?), the GOP’s message is clear: Let’s figure out who we’re inviting to dinner before setting a place at the table.

Oh, and they want answers—lots of them—about everything from the number of refugees to the cost of this grand plan because nothing says “government efficiency,” like a thorough interrogation session over what could possibly go wrong with this picture.