May 23, 2024

The Biden administration is considering allowing Palestinians from war-torn and Hamas-infested Gaza to enter the United States as refugees, according to internal documents obtained by CBS News. The documents reveal that senior officials from multiple U.S. agencies have been discussing the feasibility of resettling Palestinians from Gaza who have immediate family ties with American citizens or permanent residents. 

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One proposal involves utilizing the United States Refugee Admissions Program to facilitate the entry of Palestinians from Gaza who have managed to escape to neighboring Egypt and have U.S. ties. 

According to the documents, high-ranking U.S. authorities have explored the option of getting more Palestinians out of Gaza and seemingly into Egypt before treating them as refugees if they have family ties in the United States. This would necessitate collaboration with Egypt, which has notably declined to accept any significant number of individuals from Gaza.

Egypt-Hamas relations

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has succeeded in quelling Hamas’ Islamist insurgents in North Sinai and is apprehensive about the potentially destabilizing impact of an influx of refugees. Furthermore, Sisi likely perceives Hamas as a potential threat to his regime.

Following the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup in 2013, the Sisi administration cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and targeted Hamas, which originated from the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Between 2014 and 2016, the Egyptian military flooded tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt while accusing Hamas of collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian state. Additionally, Egypt has enforced Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

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So, while the Biden administration and international groups lobby Egypt to open to refugees or cooperate with their humanitarian efforts, Sisi, thus far, has not been willing to play ball. 

Departure of Longstanding US Policy

However, if the Palestinians are deemed eligible to be refugees through medical and security screenings, they would qualify to fly to the U.S. Once they enter the U.S., they would receive benefits such as permanent residency, housing assistance, and a pathway to American citizenship. 

The proposals to relocate Palestinians as refugees would represent a departure from longstanding U.S. policy. Since its establishment in 1980, the U.S. refugee program has never resettled Palestinians in significant numbers.

In the past decade, the U.S. has resettled over 400,000 refugees fleeing conflict globally, and fewer than 600 were Palestinian. In FY 2023, the U.S. accepted only 56 Palestinian refugees, making up a fraction of one percent (0.09%) of the more than 60,000 refugees resettled during that period, according to State Department data.

While many Democrats might support this initiative, admitting Palestinians as refugees will undoubtedly exasperate political challenges for the Biden administration concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Israel-Hamas conflict has already highlighted factions and divisions within the Democratic Party and sparked large-scale antisemitic and terroristic protests-turned-riots on major college campuses across the nation. Republicans and members of Jewish communities will be horrified by the national security implications of resettling Palestinians within the United States.

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The Biden administration has boosted refugee resettlement efforts, reversing the sharp reductions and record lows under former President Donald Trump. Biden administration officials have a target of admitting as many as 125,000 refugees in FY 2024, which concludes at the end of September… just in time to vote these people out.


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