GOP Senators to Biden: Prioritize Hostages Above Gazan Refugees

GOP Senators to Biden: Prioritize Hostages Above Gazan Refugees

A group of Republican senators, led by Sen. Joni Ernst, is calling on President Biden to focus on freeing hostages held by Hamas instead of considering a plan to allow Gazan refugees into the United States. The senators expressed concerns about national security risks associated with resettling Palestinians on US soil, emphasizing the challenges of vetting a high-risk population like Gazans for potential terrorist ties and sympathies.

The lawmakers highlighted the limited access to Gazans during the conflict, making thorough vetting nearly impossible. They criticized the reported plan to evacuate Gazans while American citizens remain captive, urging the administration to prioritize securing the release of US hostages.

Senior Biden administration officials have been exploring options to accept a small number of Gazans, including those who fled to Egypt to escape the fighting and individuals with family ties in the US. However, the White House has not confirmed the details of the reported plan.

The senators expressed apprehension that accepting Gazan refugees could lead to a surge of refugees at the Egypt-Gaza border, straining relations with Egypt, which has already restricted border crossings due to security concerns. They raised questions about the potential impact of a large-scale refugee policy for Gazans on the region.

Ernst and her colleagues questioned the administration’s priorities, pointing out that nearby Arab countries have declined to accept Gazan refugees due to security worries. They emphasized the importance of focusing on rescuing American citizens held by Hamas before considering the acceptance of Gazan refugees.

In their letter to President Biden, the senators sought clarification on the number of Gazan refugees the administration plans to accept, details about the screening process, and whether regional partners have been consulted on the proposed refugee policy. With about 130 hostages, including five US citizens, still held by Hamas after months of conflict, the lawmakers underscored the critical need to prioritize the release of American captives over refugee resettlement plans.

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