Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said foreign students protesting at U.S. colleges against Israel amid its war with Hamas in Gaza should be “deported.”
“Any time you actually encourage for the genocide, the elimination of an entire race of people, any time you support terrorism and encourage murder, there should be consequences,” Scott said in a Fox News interview Wednesday. “It should be consequences for those students. And it should be consequences for those universities.”
The comments follow a similar sentiment from fellow GOP hopeful Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who demanded Wednesday that a Florida chapter of the pro-Palestinian student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) be disbanded.
Scott previously said he would withhold Pell grants from universities that did not act to prevent antisemitism on campus, referring to the protests.
The conflict in Gaza began Oct. 7 when Hamas — which controls the Gaza Strip — launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing 1,400 Israelis, most of them civilians. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said responding strikes from Israel have so far killed nearly 5,800 Palestinians, including more than 2,300 children.
While organizations like SJP — which referred to Hamas as the “Palestinian resistance” and explicitly supported it — have garnered criticism, many other students who have protested against the war have not endorsed Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and European Union.
That has created First Amendment concerns for political speech on college campuses.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a free speech group, called Florida’s directive to abolish the SJP unconstitutional and dangerous.
“If it goes unchallenged, no one’s political beliefs will be safe from government suppression,” the group said in a statement.
SJP’s chapter at George Washington University also came under fire Wednesday after a small number of its members projected messages criticizing the university and the Israeli government on a campus building.
Also in the Wednesday interview, Scott criticized President Biden’s $100 billion supplementary budget request, which includes $14 billion intended for Israel. Scott said the Israel funding should not be tied to other issues.
“The focus should be on Israel. We should have a stand-alone package for Israel,” he said. “We know that that would unite the vast majority of the House and the Senate, and the president could sign it.”
“We should provide Israel with a clearer picture of a unified America in support of their efforts to eliminate Hamas as a threat for the rest of Israel’s existence, which requires the wiping Hamas off the map,” he continued.