Immigration Reform 2013: Marco Rubio Hints At Freeze On Muslim Student Visas

Think Progress reported Wednesday that Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) hinted at considering excluding foreign Muslims from being granted student visas to come to the United States, in light of the attack at the Boston Marathon by two immigrants

Fox News host Neil Cavuto prompted Rubio to address how the attack by the Tsarnaev brothers had influenced the discussion on immigration reform. Rubio said that he was prepared to take into account Fox News Host Bob Beckel’s suggestion that anyone who observes Islam should not be granted a student visa.

Beckel was invited to America Live with Megyn Kelly to address the recent controversial comments he made — comments suggesting that the United States look at Muslims on student visas to determine whether some of them should be sent back home or to prison.

Kelly reacted to Beckel’s suggestion, saying “What’s to stop us from taking the next step and going the Japanese internment camp route? Let’s round them all up, forget about the ones who want to come in, let’s take the ones who are in the country. I mean now you’re getting into a dangerous place.”

The Islamophobic reactions to the Boston bombing have been rampant. Members of Congress, conservative political spokespeople, and others said the attack furnishes a perfect example of how Islam is a violent religion or that Muslim communities influence violent jihad. The irony of these statements is that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was kicked out of his mosque for using destructive discourse and a Muslim community in Toronto recently worked alongside authorities to help stop a terrorist attack. Furthermore, neither of the Tsarnaev brothers came to the country on student visas.

Kelly noted that there have been about four terrorists who entered the United States on student visas out of the 75,000 currently on the ground. While Beckel himself acknowledged that what he was suggesting would not have stopped the Boston bombing, he continued on to say that “if we could save one Boston Marathon event or one child’s life by saying we’re going to take a two year hiatus from countries that we know do not like us.”

Beckel told Kelly he wasn’t suggesting sending home Muslim students who are already here, or have already been accepted for the September semester, but did say that the student visas was one of the easiest ways to get into the U.S., and that matter had to be addressed:

“There are 75,000 Muslim students on visas in this country. A student visa is easiest thing to get. One of people in 9/11 was on a student visa, and there have been others on student visas.”

Shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing last week, immigration authorities admitted they do not have the resources to monitor all of the student visas they issue in order to confirm recipients are in fact students and going to classes. But there are other ways to approach the problem of student visa overstays. Congress could, for example, impose a reporting requirement on universities that force them to disclose changes in enrollment status with respect to their international students.