(The Center Square) – Twenty attorneys general, including Missouri AG Andrew Bailey, are asking the Biden administration to revoke student visas for anyone suspected of supporting terrorism.
The five-page letter sent Wednesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Security Alejandro Mayorkas specifically refers to recent pro-Palestine protests on college campuses.
“For example, the national chapter of a group calling itself Students for Justice in Palestine described Hamas’s attack as ‘a historic win for the Palestinian resistance,'” the letter said. “SJP issued a ‘call to action’ asking its college chapters to demonstrate, and more than 20 chapters responded, spearheading anti-Israel activity on campuses across the country. That group is linked to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
The students’ activity may put their immigration status in question, they said.
“As state attorneys general, we are concerned that foreign students admitted to colleges in the United States on student visas may be supporting terrorist activity through membership in SJP and are ineligible to hold a student visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act,” the letter said.
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, the letter’s lead author, said providing material support for a terrorist act is a class Y felony in his state. A class Y felony carries a sentence of 10 to 40 years in prison, according to the Arkansas code.
“Additionally, Act 710 of 2017 prohibits the state from contracting with, or investing in, companies that boycott Israel,” Griffin said. “The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an ACLU-led challenge to that law by a 9-1 margin, and earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn that ruling.”
The attorneys general are taking a giant leap, Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, said in an interview with The Center Square.
“There needs to be actual evidence of providing material support and that had to beyond just expressing ideological agreement because that would be protected under the First Amendment,” Cohn said.
The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the issue twice.
“In a case called Bridges vs. Wixon, the Supreme Court said, ‘Freedom of speech and press is accorded aliens residing in the country,'” Cohn said. “And in a 1953 case called Chew vs. Colding, it said, ‘The Bill of Rights is a futile authority for the alien seeking admission for the first time to these shores. But once an alien lawfully enters and resides within our country, it becomes invested with the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all people within our borders.'”
The Department of Homeland Security did not return a message from The Center Square.
The attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia signed the letter.