The White House on Monday pushed back on hardline Republican demands to deport foreigners who joined pro-Palestinian protests, warning the proposals would not pass First Amendment protections on free speech.
Republican 2024 hopefuls are competing to see who can be toughest on demonstrators backing the Palestinian cause after Hamas terrorists killed 1400 people on October 7.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example, said pro-Hamas demonstrators should have their visas canceled.
John Kirby, White House national security spokesman, was asked about sending home people who support the Palestinian cause.
‘I would just tell you, you don’t have to agree with every sentiment as expressed in a free country like this to stand by the idea of the First Amendment and the idea of peaceful protest,’ he told reporters at the daily briefing. ‘I’ll leave it at that.’
White House national security spokesman John Kirby pushed back on the idea of deporting foreigners who took part in pro-Palestinian protests in the wake of the attack on Israel
Harvard Graduate Students for Palestine rally on the steps of Widner Library, Harvard University, last weekend
University campuses have been the scene of a string of protests against Israel’s action in the Gaza Strip.
They have raised questions about whether its treatment of Palestinians were in part to blame for the Hamas attack, and some have characterized the assault as a form of resistance rather than terrorism.
In some cases, Republicans have suggested that anyone speaking up for Palestinians is a supporter of Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. since 1997.
Last week, 19 Republican lawmakers joined forces to call for foreign students who have expressed support for Hamas to have their visas revoked.
‘We write to request information regarding the potentially unlawful presence on U.S. soil of non-immigrant foreign nationals who have endorsed terrorist activity,’ they said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination weighed in at the start of last week, promising to revoke the visas of ‘radical anti-American and antisemitic foreigners.’
And former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who is currently running third in the race, suggested that state funding to higher education could be cut for institutions that failed to ‘manage hate.’
Earlier a third small aid convoy entered Gaza from Egypt in the latest effort to relieve the humanitarian crisis as the enclave runs out of food, water and medicine.
Israel had initially resisted any aid deliveries for fear that they would strengthen Hamas.
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the Gaza Strip after two weeks of aerial bombardment
Members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society organize supplies of humanitarian aid sent by World Health Organization (WHO), after entering Gaza through Rafah border crossing
A third convoy of aid entered Gaza on Monday. Israel initially blocked humanitarian aid for fear that Hamas would divert aid for its own purposes
But they began after President Joe Biden visited Tel Aviv last week and promised that shipments would end if evidence emerged that Hamas was taking advantage of them.
Kirby was asked how the U.S. was monitoring the convoys to ensure the aid was getting to its intended recipients.
He said the U.S. was working with trusted partners.
‘That’s the way we we do it in so many countries around the world where we don’t have a footprint. … we’re not on the ground to personally inspect these things,’ he said.
‘But we do have trusted partners on the ground including the U.N. and some of these aid organisations, who will report what they’re seeing and where they’re taking this material and who’s getting it.
‘We’ll stay in close touch with them. And we all share the same desire that Hamas not be able to divert any of this stuff for their own purposes.’