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Rubio Calls for Deportation of International Students Over Campus Protests

The Florida senator suggested international students should be punished for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Sen. Marco Rubio talks with reporters in the U.S. Capitol after the senate luncheons on January 24, 2023.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a letter to the Biden administration this week demanding that international students who have taken part in pro-Palestine protests in the U.S. be deported immediately.

The action Rubio is calling for would deprive these students, who are in the country on education visas, of their rights to free speech, assembly, and due process — rights that are afforded not only to U.S. citizens, but to anyone who is present in the U.S.

Rubio addressed his letter specifically to State Secretary Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, claiming they were legally obligated to follow his demands regarding international students who have protested against Israel’s genocide of Palestinians.

The Florida senator wrongly accused the pro-Palestine protesters of rallying in support of Hamas, claiming that students’ swift deportation would be justified because Hamas is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. In reality, student protesters are demanding that their universities divest from companies that profit from the genocide of Palestinians.

International students who have participated in the nationwide protests, including those living in or helping to construct encampments on campuses, should face “immediate expulsion from their host institution and our generous country,” Rubio said. “No questions asked.”

He went on to call the demonstrations “abhorrent,” stating in his letter that “American colleges and universities [should be] reminded” by the Biden administration “of their responsibilities” to enforce “the laws of our land.”

“Let me be clear: espousing support for a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization is grounds for the termination of a visa and immediate removal from our country,” Rubio added, again mischaracterizing what the protests have been about.

Rubio’s letter fails to recognize the democratic rights that international students are entitled to while in the U.S.

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), the action that Rubio is calling on the Biden administration to employ would be illegal in cases where students have a visa or green card. In a FAQ on its website, the ABA notes that participation in protests could result in deportation for undocumented students, depending on the current presidential administration.

“If they have a visa or greencard they cannot be deported” for engaging in a protest, the organization states.

Rubio’s letter comes as universities across the country have authorized police departments to violently sweep Gaza solidarity encampments, with cops stationing snipers on the roof of Indiana University, tear gassing students in Virginia, physically assaulting people in Austin, and shooting protesters in the face with rubber bullets in Los Angeles. Cops also fired a gun during a raid on a building occupied by students at Columbia University.

According to a count by The Appeal, there have been 2,900 people arrested on campuses for protesting against Israel’s genocide so far.