After the October 7 attacks, thousands took to American streets to celebrate. Some explicitly praised the heinous acts of rape, beheading, and kidnapping of civilians. Among these demonstrators were many noncitizens, including those on student visas. Universities such as MIT refrained from suspending students who neglected their classes in order to protest, seeking to protect those students’ immigration status.

Policymakers can fight imported anti-Semitism by safeguarding American Jews from foreign threats, while reinforcing the value of American citizenship. The United States has a long-standing tradition of defending itself against perilous foreign ideologies. George Washington once expressed his hope that America might become a “safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.” Washington’s emphasis on virtue is critical. Some of the earliest immigration restrictions aimed to ensure that only virtuous actors were admitted—excluding prostitutes, anarchists, and Communists.

Following World War II, these restrictions broadened to prevent members of totalitarian parties and violators of human rights from immigrating. Terrorists and their affiliates are barred from entering the U.S.; so are their supporters. Even today, such laws continue to result in the denaturalization and deportation of former Nazi officials who managed to enter America under false pretenses.

Successive amendments to immigration law and Supreme Court rulings have made it challenging to exclude Communists and to remove them once they’re in the United States. But as the Supreme Court has clarified, noncitizens outside the country do not have American constitutional rights. The president and Congress can thus take decisive action to prevent more anti-Semites from entering the country.

A president interested in fighting this problem could mandate that all visa applicants at foreign consulates be asked how they feel about terrorist organizations like Hamas. If applicants express support, consular officers already have the discretion to deny their visa applications. The president could also introduce a new regulation directing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to regard anti-Semitic protests and actions as violations of the “good moral character” requirement for citizenship, preventing naturalization.

Congress can tackle the problem, too. Lawmakers can revise the Immigration and Naturalization Act to include anti-Semitic activities as a new criterion for inadmissibility. A well-drafted measure would cover everyone convicted of persecuting, harassing, stalking, or criminally targeting individuals based on their actual or perceived Jewish identity, as well as anyone expressing views that call for the extermination of the Jewish people, opposing the existence of Israel, or supporting U.S.-designated terrorist organizations—including, but not limited to, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Ideally, these measures will lead to the removal and departure of the most dangerous anti-Semites from the United States. Even if the Supreme Court does not permit these restrictions to apply to immigrants inside the country, they will prevent future undesirable entrants through consular screenings.

Some may call these proposals a betrayal of freedom of expression, but there’s a good reason that the Constitution applies only inside the U.S.—and that immigration isn’t a right, but a privilege granted by law. America should be a haven for the virtuous and persecuted, not for the persecutors.

Photo: SDI Productions/E+ via Getty Images


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