Florida is amidst a political maelstrom following pro-Palestinian/Hamas rallies across the state and the country. Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio have been vociferous in their support for Israel in the wake of these demonstrations.
Governor DeSantis criticized the rallies, especially those in Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale, for their pro-Hamas stance, labeling them “abhorrent.” DeSantis said, “Hamas is a terrorist group that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and commits atrocities to further that end. We are proud of the relationship between Florida and Israel and remember well the support we received from the IDF following the Surfside tower collapse. Florida stands with Israel as it faces one of its greatest challenges.”
“I have asked the Biden Administration to follow our existing laws by canceling the visas and immediately removing foreign nationals who support Hamas. Any foreign national marching on our streets calling for ‘intifada’ or celebrating the slaughter of Israeli babies needs to go,” the Florida Governor stated resolutely. DeSantis is also firmly against the U.S. admitting Palestinian refugees. He argues that the U.S. should not be a hub for individuals carrying ideologies rooted in anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. He stated unequivocally that if he were president, no individuals from Gaza would be admitted into the country.
Senator Rubio, meanwhile, has echoed similar sentiments. Calling upon the Biden administration, he demanded the rescindment of visas for foreign nationals advocating terrorist activities, particularly those supporting Hamas, which is officially designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Rubio stressed that while America is a generous nation, it cannot play host to individuals who champion terrorist entities like Hamas. Backing his stance, Rubio cited federal statute 8 USC § 1182, which deems ineligible for visas or admission those endorsing terrorist activities or supporting terrorist organizations, a category into which he places pro-Hamas demonstrators.
“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,” the Florida Senator said. Rubio’s concerns also extend to America’s border security. With reports highlighting that CBP agents apprehended 659 known or suspected terrorists in fiscal 2023, Rubio emphasized the gravity of the situation, pointing to potential threats from unrecorded entries.
Florida is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the U.S. The Miami area has the second largest population of Israeli Americans in the U.S.