By Tom Ozimek
As experts predict a million refugees might flee Gaza amid the Israel–Hamas war, controversy has erupted in Congress as some leftist lawmakers have called for them to be brought to the United States, while some Republicans say no and have crafted legislation to block any such moves.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), a member of the left-wing “Squad” in Congress, was cited by the New York Post as calling for the United States to “welcome refugees from Palestine,” while Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) introduced a bill that would block people with passports issued by the Palestinian Authority from being admitted to the country.
“We can’t let President Biden abuse our parole and visa rules to bring unvetted Palestinians into American communities the way he did with thousands of unvetted Afghans,” Mr. Tiffany said in a statement posted on X, referring to the Biden administration’s decision to let 76,000 Afghan refugees come to the United States following the Taliban takeover of the country after a botched U.S. pullout.
“I introduced the GAZA Act to protect America’s national security,” Mr. Tiffany added, with the lawmaker sharing the contents of the Guaranteeing Aggressors Zero Admission (GAZA) Act exclusively with Breitbart.
The bill would block the Biden administration’s use of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) parole mechanism from letting Palestinians settle in the United States, according to the text of the measure, as cited by Breitbart.
While Mr. Bowman has called for the admission of Gaza refugees to the United States, he said that they should be vetted prior to being allowed in.
“Fifty percent of the population in Gaza are children,” he said. “The international community as well as the United States should be prepared to welcome refugees from Palestine while being very careful to vet and not allow members of Hamas.”
Like Mr. Tiffany, other Republicans have expressed opposition to opening the door to Gaza refugees.
“The U.S. is the most generous nation in the world, but we are in no position to accept additional refugees, especially from a region with as high a risk of terrorism, given our nation’s inability to secure our own border or vet those who are already here,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told The New York Post.
Likewise, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said Saturday that the United States “cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees,” adding that neighboring Arab nations should “open their borders” and take them in.
It comes as Israel has called for a mass evacuation of Gaza ahead of a planned offensive to destroy Hamas and rescue hostages—if they’re still alive.
‘Wide Range of Offensive Operating Plans’
The Israeli military said Saturday it had seen a “significant movement” south of Palestinian civilians, a day after ordering Gaza City residents to flee and later announcing it is “preparing to implement a wide range of offensive operative plans” that will include coordinated strikes from the air, land, and sea.
That came after Israel’s prime minister promised further actions in response to Hamas’s massacre of Israelis last week, in which Hamas terrorists killed at least 1,300 Israelis, mainly civilians, and seized scores of hostages.
The Hamas terror group, which is known for its reckless disregard for civilian lives and using human shields, has told people to ignore Israeli calls to evacuate from northern Gaza, according to The Associated Press.
The United Nations has estimated that roughly 423,000 people have been displaced in Gaza, while U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said it would be impossible to stage such a large evacuation without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
Mariana Dahan, founder of the World Identity Network (WIN) Foundation, told the New York Post that the Israel–Hamas conflict “may add over 1 million people to the already staggering number of 6 million Palestinian refugees in the world.”
The Israeli military said that Hamas was setting up roadblocks and “forcefully preventing their civilians from relocating to southern Gaza for their own safety.”
With the rhetoric heating up around the fate of the people evacuating Gaza, the issue of Palestinian refugees has become a hot topic in Washington.
Discussions on Capitol Hill
President Joe Biden said consultations were underway with regional governments on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as Palestinians endured a power blackout and shortages of food and water.
Progressive Democrats in the House on Friday called on the Biden administration to take steps to limit civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.
In a letter addressed to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, signed by 55 House members, the lawmakers expressed their concerns about the “unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza” as Israel responds to the terrorist attack by Hamas.
“As President Biden has previously stated, Israel has the right to defend its people and respond to these vicious attacks,” they wrote.
“We strongly believe that Israel’s response must take into account the millions of innocent civilians in Gaza who themselves are victims of Hamas and are suffering the consequences of their terror campaign,” they added.
The Israeli military, for its part, has said it will “make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians” while it carries out operations in Gaza in the coming days.
Caden Pearson contributed to this report.