Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Wednesday suggested that, given the attack on Boston carried out by two immigrants, he would consider barring young foreign Muslims from getting student visas to come the United States.
Prompted by host Neil Cavuto to address how the attack by the Tsarnaev brothers — neither of whom came to the country on student visas — had influenced immigration reform, Rubio said that he was willing to consider Fox News Host Bob Beckel’s suggestion that anyone who observes Islam should not get a student visa:
CAVUTO: Senator, there are some getting leery of all the Muslim students in America. Bob Beckel is among those saying stop grants visas, others speaking about slowing down the number getting into the country. What do you think?
RUBIO: We need to be open to changes that provide more security. I don’t like profiling anybody or singling or generally leading, on the other hand student visas are something this country does because it’s in our national interest but you don’t have a right to a student visa. I’m not prepared to take a firm position on restriction. I want to learn about what might have worked to prevent past attacks.
Islamophobia has been pervasive in the responses to last week’s attack on Boston. Some members of Congress, along with conservative political spokespeople, have said the attack underlines that Islam is a religion of violence, or that Muslim communities have influenced violent jihad. In fact, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was kicked out of his mosque for using violent rhetoric, and the Muslim community in Toronto recently worked with authorities to help stop a terrorist attack.
On Thursday morning, Rubio stood by his comments in an interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum:
MACCALLUM: You opened the door to perhaps not allowing Muslim students to receive student visas in this country. Did you mean that, 24 hours later?
RUBIO: Yeah. Because, let me explain to you. We have to get proper perspective here. No one has a right to immigrate to the United States. No one has a right to visit the United States and no one has a right to get a visa to study in the United States. There is no right to do that…. I’m not singling out anyone per se. I’m saying if there are indicators people are coming from parts of the world where dangerous people are living and plotting against us that should be a factor determining whether we allow people to come here from there or not.