Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis declared he would cancel international students’ visas who support Hamas terrorists’ attack on Israel.
On Friday, the presidential hopeful spoke at a campaign event in Iowa. DeSantis detailed his plan to deport foreign nationals studying in the United States who support Hamas. This comes as pro-Palestinian student groups at universities nationwide have issued statements and organized demonstrations in support of Hamas’ most significant attack against Israel in decades.
“You see students demonstrating in our country in favor of Hamas,” DeSantis said. “Remember, some of them are foreigners.”
DeSantis said he would cancel their visas and send them home if he wins the presidency in 2024.
At the same rally in Iowa, South Carolina Senator, and fellow Republican presidential contender Tim Scott claimed he would cut off federal funding to schools that did not remove antisemitism from their campuses.
More than three weeks into the conflict between Israel and Hamas, both presidential candidates have expressed their solidarity with the Jewish state.
Over 5,700 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, leading to retaliation from Israeli forces. Thousands more have been wounded, and Hamas has taken many others hostage.
DeSantis has been vocal in condemning Hamas’ ambushed attack on Israel and has taken steps to help Floridians stranded in Israel find their way home.
Since the governor’s executive order permitting logistics, rescue, and evacuation operations under Florida’s Division of Emergency Management went into effect last week, approximately 300 Floridians arrived in the Sunshine State aboard planes from Israel. Project DYNAMO, a nonprofit organization dedicated to search and rescue, helped make the flights possible. Additional efforts to Florida for evacuation flights are expected.
According to the governor’s office, the Florida Division of Emergency Management also sent cargo planes to Israel containing medical supplies, clothing items, hygiene products, and children’s toys.
Earlier this month, DeSantis called students who support Hamas a total disgrace after at least dozens of student groups at various U.S. universities, including Harvard University endorsed Hamas’ attacks on Israel with public statements and protests.
In the wake of the attack on October 7, around 30 student groups at Harvard issued a statement reading, “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
Students for Justice in Palestine chapters and other pro-Palestinian student groups at several other universities, including George Washington University, the University of Virginia, and the University of California, Berkley, also released similar statements on the weekend of Hamas’ attack.
The statement by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups was later deleted after student organizations began removing their signatures amid bipartisan backlash and some CEOs demanding the names of students who signed it.
Many other pro-Palestinian student groups at institutions across the U.S. still have their statements posted online and continue to partake in protests celebrating Hamas’ attack.
There have been additional requests from Republican legislators for the deportation and cancellation of visas for foreign nationals who support Hamas.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has said that foreign nationals who defend or support Hamas should have their visas revoked by the Biden administration. After the terrorist incident in Israel, Republican Senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton called on the Department of Homeland Security to remove foreign nationals who sympathized with Hamas, especially those on student visas.
DeSantis has furthermore stated he does not support accepting refugees from Gaza who wish to evacuate the violence in the region.
At a campaign event earlier this month, DeSantis said, “I don’t know what Biden is going do, but we cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees.”
“I am not going to do that,” he added. “If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all antisemitic. None of them believe in Israel’s right to exist.”
The response from the Biden administration to Hamas attacks against Israel was heavily criticized by Scott and other Republicans. During a speech in Washington, D.C., the South Carolina senator said earlier this month that the president has blood on his hands.