Representative Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Montana, is advocating for the passage of legislation in Congress aimed at halting Palestinian immigration into the United States. The proposed legislation, known as the Safeguarding Americans from Extremism (SAFE) Act, seeks to impose strict immigration restrictions on foreign nationals holding Palestinian Authority (PA) passports or PA-issued travel documents. It would render them inadmissible to the United States.
The SAFE Act further aims to prevent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from granting green cards and temporary or “nonimmigrant” visas to PA passport holders, and it would revoke visas issued to this group after October 1. The bill also seeks to block DHS from extending Temporary Protected Status, asylum, or refugee status to those with PA passports. Such statuses would also be revoked for individuals granted them within the current fiscal year.
Rep. Zinke characterized the proposed legislation as “very hard and harsh,” emphasizing its stringency. He asserted that the bill is a response to perceived failures in the current administration’s vetting process for immigrants, particularly from the Gaza region. He voiced his concerns about national security and the need for rigorous screening.
The SAFE Act is co-sponsored by several Republican Representatives, including Andy Harris, Aaron Bean, Ralph Norman, Scott DesJarlais, Clay Higgins, Ronny Jackson, Bill Posey, Barry Moore, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Andy Biggs. The bill stands out as one of the most stringent immigration measures specifically targeting the Gaza region.
Rep. Zinke’s call for such stringent immigration restrictions comes amid renewed scrutiny of the potential connection between immigration and terrorism following Hamas’ attack on Israel. Republicans have cited an increase in encounters with individuals on terror watch lists at the southern border.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued an internal memo warning of the possibility that foreign fighters affiliated with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Jihad may seek to enter the United States. However, the agency reported no concrete indications of such attempts to date.
DHS has affirmed its commitment to multilayered border security efforts, emphasizing screening and vetting processes, and has maintained that encounters with known or suspected terrorists are infrequent.
Rep. Zinke clarified that his concerns are not directed at Palestinians as a group but rather at the need for enhanced vetting processes. He likened the situation to a pandemic and called for preventative measures to halt its potential spread, citing what he views as shortcomings in the current administration’s vetting capabilities.
I don’t trust the Biden Administration any more than I do the Palestinian Authority to screen who is allowed to come into the United States. This is the most anti-Hamas immigration legislation I have seen and it’s well deserved pic.twitter.com/4ZhZghS4Wq
— Rep Ryan Zinke (@RepRyanZinke) November 2, 2023