A pivotal vote on Muslim immigration split the Republican presidential field in the Senate—with Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio voting to continue to allow large-scale Muslim immigration and Senator Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voting to pause Muslim immigration.
The amendment, offered Sen. Rand Paul, would have suspended visa issuances to more than 30 Muslim countries with active Jihadist populations. Graham and Rubio were both members of the Gang of Eight, which proposed legislation that would expand Muslim immigration, and Paul and Cruz were both opponents of the Gang of Eight bill.
Graham and Rubio’s vote against curbing Muslim migration follows the attack in San Bernardino. The male suspect, Syed Farook, is the son of Pakistani immigrants; and the female suspect, Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, was a Pakistani native. According to CNN, the two met, “when he [Farook] had gone to Saudi Arabia in 2013 on the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are required to take at last once in their lifetime. It was during this trip that he met Malik, a native of Pakistan who came to the United States in July 2014 on a ‘fiancée visa’ and later became a lawful permanent resident.”
Sen. Paul’s amendment failed 89-10, with only nine other Senators joining Paul’s bid for a halt to the large-scale distribution of visas to nations with jihadist populations. The nine others supporting Paul’s amendment were Jeff Sessions, Mike Lee, David Vitter, John Barrasso, Mike Enzi, Mark Kirk, Jerry Moran, Richard Shelby and Senator Ted Cruz.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Whip John Cornyn, and GOP Conference Chair John Thune voted against the amendment. Thune’s vote is particularly notable as the GOP conference is in charge of the Republican Party’s messaging in the Senate.
As The Hill newspaper writes:
Paul’s amendment would place a ‘pause’ on issuing visas to more than 30 countries, that the Kentucky Republican said are ‘at a high risk for exporting terrorists.’ It would also require that individuals from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program to either wait 30 days before coming to the United States or go through enhanced background and security checks, as well as requiring the government to perform additional screening on any admitted refugees.
According to Rasmussen, 65 percent of conservative voters think the correct number of refugees to admit from the entire Middle East is zero. According to a Kellyanne Conway survey, a majority of Americans want a pause on all immigration from everywhere in the world.
Under current immigration policy, the U.S. issues about 280,000 visas annually to temporary and permanent Muslim migrants— including more than a 100,000 green cards each year.
Green card holders are given lifetime work permits and residency, welfare, and ultimately become full voting citizens of the United States. As the Senate Immigration Subcommittee has documented, over the next five years the U.S. will permanently resettle nearly 700,000 Muslim migrants on green cards— or a population larger than the size of Washington D.C. According to Pew Research, only 11 percent of Muslim Americans identify as Republican or leaning-Republican, making them one of the most reliable Democrat voting blocs in the country.
Rubio’s opposition to Sen. Rand Paul’s effort to pause mass Muslim migration is consistent with Rubio’s voting record. Earlier this year, Rubio introduced an immigration expansion bill known as the I-Squared bill which would substantially expand immigration. That bill is backed by Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration lobbying group, as well as the lobbying firm chaired by Rupert Murdoch, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and Disney’s Bob Iger. It has also been endorsed by Oracle, whose billionaire co-founder Larry Ellison is helping to fund Rubio’s campaign. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has said, “Senator Rubio works for the lobbyists, not for Americans. That is why he is receiving more money from Silicon Valley than any other candidate in this race. He is their puppet.”
Rubio also co-authored the 2013 La-Raza backed amnesty and immigration expansion plan. Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz has detailed:
Rubio’s  Bill Would Have Opened Floodgates to Islamic Refugees”. Horowitz explained that the bill would have, “dramatically weakened the precautions against fraudulent asylum petitions by, among other things, eliminating the time constraints on filing those applications… [and] in totality… would have created endless avenues for this president to bring in an unlimited numbers of Islamic immigrants from the most volatile corners of the world.
In recent weeks, Rubio has reiterated his support for bringing in Syrian refugees. In fact, in an interview on Fox News with Neil Cavuto, Rubio expressed his support for bringing in both very young and very old refugees, who will likely become instant public charges on the U.S. taxpayer. “Common sense still applies,” Rubio told Cavuto in his explanation about which migrants from terror-prone Muslim regions he would admit into the country. “If it’s a seven-year-old child, if it’s a 90-year-old widow, if it’s a well-known Chaldean priest, these are people you can vet.”
In a Thursday letter to administration officials, Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions offered an opposite theory, saying that terrorists have proven they can not only recruit and groom young Muslim migrants, but the future children of Muslim migrants allowed in the country. They cited the Chattanooga shooter who recently murdered four marines and a Navy Sailor as being an example of a terrorist attack caused by immigration. Like Rubio’s hypothetical seven year-old Muslim migrants he says “common sense” tells you to let in, the Chattanooga shooter came here from Kuwait at around the age of six.
Once young Syrian refugees have citizenship, they then have the right to bring in their relatives as well. The elderly widow, to take Rubio’s example, would be able to bring in her children, while also receiving costly medical and nursing care from U.S. taxpayers. Rubio has previously said he’d “hate” to block funding for Obama’s refugee program— which leaders are planning to push through by December 11th. As a result, Obama would not only be able to bring in the young and old Muslim migrants favored by Rubio, but the middle-aged Muslim migrants as well. Moreover, with his vote on Thursday, Rubio voted to continue immigration from not just Syria but every Muslim country in the world.
In their joint letter, Sessions and Cruz explained the dangers this would pose:
We are dealing with an enemy that has shown it is not only capable of bypassing U.S. screening, but of recruiting and radicalizing Muslim migrants after their entry to the United States. The recruitment of terrorists in the U.S. is not limited to adult migrants, but to their young children and to their U.S.-born children – which is why family immigration history is necessary to understand the nature of the threat… Congress is days away from consideration of an omnibus year-end funding bill that would set the U.S. on an autopilot path to approve green cards, asylee, and refugee status to approximately 170,000 migrants from Muslim countries during the next year.