National Security & Defense

Rand Paul Calls for ‘Immediate Moratorium on Visas for Refugees’

Rand Paul speaks in Orlando, Florida, November 14, 2015. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

Senator Rand Paul is introducing legislation to impose “an immediate moratorium on visas for refugees” in response to the Paris terrorist attacks.

“I think that the best way to defend the country from attackers, attackers that don’t really have an army but would come here as individuals, is to make sure we try to prevent their access into our country,” Paul told reporters on a Monday afternoon conference call. 

Paul’s legislation would also block visas for students from countries that have a significant jihadist movement and restrict access to the United States even for people who hail from traditional allies and have not been required to obtain a visa before traveling. Paul offered the bill as a reiteration of his long-standing national-security views, but also used it to open fire on his Democratic and Republican rivals for the White House.

The Kentucky freshman noted that he advocated such policies long before the Paris attack, citing the 2013 arrests of two Iraqis who had entered the country as refugees despite being former members of al-Qaeda. There is at least one new proposal in the bill: the provision that requires people from visa-waiver countries to wait 30 days to enter the United States, unless they have previously participated in the Global Entry program, a background-check process run by the Department of Homeland Security.

That policy is a direct response to the Paris attacks. “No one immigrates, no one [is] studying, and no one is visiting our country without special scrutiny,” he said. “Most of these attackers are going to turn out to be French citizens.”

Paul also used the legislation to criticize Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), one of his chief rivals for the GOP presidential nomination. “Many of the ideas I have in this bill I introduced in the immigration bill and [they] were opposed by Marco Rubio,” Paul said. “This is still and will be a bone of contention between Marco Rubio and I that he has opposed the extra scrutiny that I think will keep our country safe.”

#share#He took another shot at Rubio when asked what strategy he thinks is required to defeat ISIS. “I think it’s always been a mistake to arm the allies of ISIS,” Paul told reporters. “And really President Obama and Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton have all agreed that they wanted to arm the allies of ISIS and the allies of al-Qaeda and I think that was a mistake.”

When pressed to offer a strategy going forward, Paul argued that the United States could not ultimately eradicate the terrorists. “I have supported the bombing, I have supported the arming of the Kurds,” he said. “But in order for there to be a long-lasting solution, the radical barbaric form of Islam that motivates ISIS will not be stamped out by Christians, or Americans, or French for that matter. Ultimately the only way that this aberration is completely wiped out is Islam has to rise up and say ‘this is not part of our religion and . . . we are going to fight to eradicate it.’ . . . Ultimately, the force that occupies that area is going to have to be a Muslim force and probably it has to be a Sunni force in the area that ISIS currently occupies.”

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

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