GOP Battles Biden Admin Decision That Made It Easier for Terrorists To Enter US

Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) / Getty Images
July 20, 2022

Congressional Republicans want to mandate that any immigrant who applies for a U.S. visa disclose ties they might have to Iran and its terror affiliates, according to legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Those seeking entrance into the United States are not currently asked on immigration forms if they have ties to the hardline Iranian government and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the country’s paramilitary fighting force responsible for orchestrating terror attacks on Americans.

The bill, led by Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) and a coalition of 14 lawmakers affiliated with the House Republican Study Committee (RSC), comes on the heels of a Free Beacon report detailing the Biden administration’s decision to loosen immigration laws so that individuals with known ties to designated terror groups can more easily enter the country. The amended law permits foreigners who provided "insignificant material support" to designated terror groups to receive "immigration benefits or other status."

"Opening the border to members of a hostile terrorist army violates the Biden administration’s constitutional obligation to protect states from invasion," Banks said. "Unfortunately, House Democrats have prioritized appeasing Iran above all else."

Banks and his colleagues say the administration is opening "the floodgate for supporters of IRGC terrorism to enter the United States," according to an RSC-authored memo circulating among Republican offices on Capitol Hill and obtained by the Free Beacon.

The Republican legislation, called the "Protecting America from IRGC Terrorists Act," seeks to close these loopholes by mandating that every foreigner applying for a U.S. visa or citizenship disclose any ties to Iran and the IRGC on relevant immigration forms. The Republican coalition says the legislation is particularly important as Iran and its terror proxies actively plot to assassinate current and former U.S. government officials.

"I am shocked that disclosing Iranian and IRGC affiliations was not already a requirement for U.S. visa applications," Rep. Lisa McClain (R., Mich.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and one of 15 Republican cosponsors of the bill, told the Free Beacon. "Iran has shown us time and time again that they are no friend of the United States."

The legislation, which is likely to garner widespread Republican support but stall in the Democrat-controlled House, would force the State and Homeland Security Departments to "ask about an alien’s affiliation with the Iranian state and the IRGC on visa, permanent residency, and naturalization application forms," according to a full copy of the bill.

"By requiring these carefully crafted questions in our immigration vetting process, the bill aims to strengthen immigration accountability and transparency and provide more data for the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security to better evaluate potential US national security threats," the RSC wrote in its internal policy brief on the legislation.

The Biden administration made several changes to federal immigration laws late last month that allow individuals who provided "humanitarian assistance" or "routine commercial transactions" to designated terror groups to obtain residence in the United States.

A State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon at the time that the changes were made to facilitate the immigration of vulnerable Afghans who may have been forced to work alongside terror groups operating in the country.

Former U.S. officials and experts, however, pointed out that the policies do not mention Afghanistan and apply specifically to designated terror groups. The Taliban, for instance, is not designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The broad nature of the changes drew accusations that the special immigration benefits could apply to IRGC members—though the State Department disputes that charge.

The changes "are an effort to address issues related to Afghanistan," a State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon in July, when the policy change was first announced. "The circumstances between Afghanistan and Iran are very different."

Republican House lawmakers, led by Banks, launched a formal probe into the policy change earlier this month, as the Free Beacon first reported.

The order was "released just weeks before negotiations with Iran over restoring the nuclear deal recommenced," Banks and three of his colleagues wrote in a letter to the White House demanding in-depth information about its justification for amending immigration law. "Your administration may be trying to entice Iran back to the nuclear deal by using broad executive authorities to weaken the penalties connected to the [foreign terrorist organization] designation without requiring the IRGC and other Iran-supported terrorist organizations to verifiably cease their terrorist activities."

Rep. Mike Waltz (R., Fla.), a cosponsor of the bill and member of the Armed Services Committee, said the legislation "will help ensure these terrorist supporters are barred from our homeland."

"Over the last two decades, the IRGC is responsible for the killing of over 600 U.S. servicemembers and continue to threaten U.S. public officials who dared challenge their terrorism," Waltz said. "Allowing any individuals into our country who may have assisted these terrorists would be a direct national security threat to our citizens."