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Rubio Questions Secretary Mayorkas on Revoking Visas for Terrorists

Nov 8, 2023 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) questioned Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Biden Administration’s request for additional funding to quickly process migrants who enter the country illegally. 

  • “I think it makes sense that if you can’t get a visa because you espouse terrorist views or endorse terrorist views, then if you have a visa and you do that while a visitor, we’re talking about visitors to the United States, that visa should be canceled.” – Senator Rubio

Click here for video and read the transcript below:

RUBIO: Secretary Mayorkas, under our current laws, and I know I’m correct on this, if you endorse or you espouse terrorist views and you apply for a visa that’s denied, you’re inadmissible, right?

MAYORKAS: I believe that’s the correct language.

RUBIO: So what if you already have a visa, and then, while in the U.S. with that visa, you espouse or support terrorist activity? Shouldn’t that be an automatic cancellation of that visa?

MAYORKAS: Senator, I would have to check the law, but I would understand that it might be a basis for the revocation of the visa and the removal of the individual. I’d want to check the law in that area.

RUBIO: I think it makes sense that if you can’t get a visa because you espouse terrorist views or endorse terrorist views, then if you have a visa and you do that while a visitor, we’re talking about visitors to the United States, that visa should be canceled.

MAYORKAS: I would agree.

RUBIO: Okay, good. Because I’m asking the administration to enforce that, and I hope you will. I think that’s important. There’s a lot of talk about immigration. I deal with immigration every day because, as you know, where I live in Miami, virtually everyone is from somewhere else, whether it’s another state or primarily another country in South Florida. So everywhere I go people talk to me. 

I talked to a lady three days ago. She says her son may be in Honduras. She’s going to Venmo him, five(thousand) or $6,000, or via Cash App. He’s going to pay someone to bring him to the U.S. border, where he will present himself to border officials. He will be admitted into the country and at some point be released. He knows this because other people have done it. Depending on how he’s released within 180 days, I believe he’ll have a work permit. And, at some point in the future, he’ll have to show up for a hearing, and maybe not get an immediate trial date, but he’s basically, within the next eight weeks, going to be living in the U.S. This is the pattern that they have established and that they understand. And once he’s successful at doing that, he’ll obviously tell people back home how he did it and they’ll do the same thing. Is that not, in essence, what is happening?

MAYORKAS: I would perhaps, Senator, qualify a few of the facts, but that is indeed a pattern that we see which speaks to how broken our immigration system is. But how important are the policies that we have promulgated to prevent that scenario from occurring? Let me give you an example of the policy that we have promulgated to ensure that that scenario does not occur. What we have done is promulgated a regulation that provides, it’s called the circumvention of lawful pathways; our model is to build safe, orderly, and lawful pathways to come to the United States and seek relief under our laws, and to deliver a consequence for those individuals who do not avail themselves of those lawful pathways, but instead follow the pattern that you have described. But as of right now, the pattern I’ve described is the prevalent one that is one pattern. But the policy that we have promulgated, the model that we have architected, is in fact a significant defense against that in the context of a broken immigration system. And our policy is working, although it is under challenge in the courts. Our circumvention of lawful pathways regulation is being challenged in one court and our lawful pathways are being challenged. And so we get hit from both sides. But the model is an optimal model that we are continuing to pursue. 

RUBIO: I got your point, and I only have a minute left. I want to get to one more question. My point is that perception is as important as reality. The perception right now still is, and the aforementioned lady told me this on Monday. So, I guess I can tell you that there’s at least one more person that’s coming. I want to talk,  Secretary Becerra, maybe this would involve you a little bit, too, about a specific category, which is this ‘refugee resettlement’, including Cubans and Haitians. But let me just focus on the Cuban one because I know that one well. 

So if you come from Cuba, you are presumed to be fleeing political persecution. So you are automatically eligible for refugee cash, you’re eligible for food stamps, you’re eligible for Medicaid. Others who immigrate to this country have to wait five years for those and don’t get the refugee cash, but within a year, depending on if you’re paroled, you can apply for a green card, and then you can travel back to Cuba as often as you want multiple times. You can take cash, and you can buy stuff with your food stamps. I didn’t read this in a magazine. I’ve seen it. They fill up these bags, with items purchased from food stamps, and they take it back to Cuba over there or they just transfer cash back. Some people go back to Cuba for three months at a time. They’ve been here a year. 

If you are fleeing persecution, how can it be that a year later, you are spending summers in Cuba? How can it be that less than a year later you’re traveling back, say, 6 to 8 times a year to Cuba? I’ve never heard of people fleeing persecution going back to a place repeatedly. There’s an issue here, is there not?

MAYORKAS: Senator, respectfully allow me to say that you’ve misdescribed the Cuban Adjustment Act and what happens when an individual from Cuba arrives in the United States because we do indeed remove individuals to Cuba.

RUBIO: So assuming Cuba will accept them and they’re ineligible for some reason, right?

MAYORKAS: That is correct.

RUBIO: But the overwhelming majority do not get removed. Which is fine. I’m not talking about the people that are here. Once you are here, you’re assumed here because you’re a refugee fleeing persecution and you have a host of benefits at a minimum. If a year later you’re here as a refugee, but you’re going back to Cuba six times, shouldn’t you at least lose the refugee status?

MAYORKAS: Senator, let me follow up with your concern. The question being, if I understand it correctly, is if indeed an individual flees the country of origin by reason of fear of persecution, they obtain refugee status because…

RUBIO: Specifically Cuban in this case.

MAYORKAS: …Because that fear has been affirmed, and they are now a refugee. Does their desire and travel to the country of origin militate against the legitimacy of their claim?

RUBIO: It’s a year.

MAYORKAS: I will follow up on that, Senator.