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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Bill Introduced to Block U.S. Visas for Terrorists

It is incredible that we even need legislation to bar a terrorist from obtaining a visa to travel to New York and take his seat at the U.N. But we do, and unless this legislation is passed, Aboutalebi will waltz into the U.N.
U.S. citizen, one of the 52 held by Islamic revolutionaries during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, 1979-1981.

U.S. citizen, one of the 52 held by Islamic revolutionaries during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, 1979-1981.
Photo Credit: U.S. State Dept.

On Tuesday, April 1, Colorado congressman Doug Lamborn (R) introduced H.R. 4357 into the U.S. Congress. This proposed legislation is intended to prevent known terrorists from obtaining visas to enter the United States as ambassadors to the United Nations.

Yes, it is absurd that legislation needs to be passed to prevent such a farce. But unless this legislation is passed, the U.S. will allow one of the Iranians who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and held 52 of our citizens captive for 444 days, to enter the U.S. and to travel to the U.N. in New York.

That is because the current president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hasan Rouhani, named Hamid Aboutalebi as Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Aboutalebi is a member of the militant group The Muslim Students Followers of the Imam’s Line, which took the Americans hostage in Tehran.

On November 4, 1979, the Islamic revolutionaries scaled the walls of the American Embassy and occupied it to show their support for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and to express outrage that the deposed Shah of Iran had been admitted into the U.S. for cancer treatment. The revolutionaries wanted the Shah returned to Iran for a trial and, presumably, execution.

“America should not willingly accept into our country a diplomat who helped hold American diplomats hostage. Diplomatic immunity should not apply to terrorists. The only way terrorists should be allowed into our country is if they are coming to face justice. The President can already deny visas to diplomats for spying. Terrorist activities by diplomats, past or present, should be dealt with just as severely,” said Lamborn in a statement released on April 2.

Aboutalebi is now downplaying his role in the group, claiming that he was “merely” a translator and negotiator during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, referred to in Iran as “Conquest of the American Spy Den.”

Lamborn’s proposed bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK1), is a companion bill to the senate version introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), S. 2195.

The bills which seek to prevent known terrorists from obtaining visas in order to enter the U.S., were sent to the Judiciary Committees of their respective houses.

Only 11 percent of all bills introduced make it out of committee, and only approximately three percent of all bills were enacted during 2011 – 2013, so expectations are not high that these bills will pass.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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