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The Democratic comments about refugees so far fall well short of what Biggs and other conservatives have described.
Rep. Jaamal Bowman, D-N.Y., said "the international community as well as the United States should be prepared to welcome refugees from Palestine while being very careful to vet and not allow members of Hamas."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said the U.S. has a "historic role" in accepting refugees.
Israeli Defense Forces told people in north Gaza, an area that’s home to about 1 million people, to evacuate as Israel prepared to respond to attacks by Hamas.
Now, some conservatives are using that figure to falsely claim the Democratic Party is broadly advocating to take them all in as refugees.
"Democrats want to bring one million to the US," conservative news website The Gateway Pundit posted Oct. 15 on X.
"Democrats want the USA to take in half of Gaza, including up to 1 million ‘refugees,’ at your expense, because Israel is destroying their homes," read another X post from the same day, this one from a radio show host. "Prediction: Biden will find a way to do this."
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said something similar on X on Oct. 16: "The Democrats' push to take in a million Palestinian refugees is absurd. Even other Middle Eastern nations recognize the fact that terrorist cells could disguise themselves as refugees fleeing war."
Biggs linked to a clip of an interview he gave to radio show host James T. Harris. "We were talking about how we had a move by the Democrats to try to get Palestinian refugees over in America," Harris said. "How serious are the Democrats?"
"They are pretty serious about that," Biggs replied. "These Democrats, a lot of them are finding sympathy with Hamas and the Palestinian movement — not with Israel, who was attacked ruthlessly."
We contacted a Biggs spokesperson to ask for his evidence that the Democratic Party has sought to allow 1 million refugees from Gaza to the U.S.
"He is referring to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s calculation that more than 1 million Palestinians have already been displaced from their homes in just one week. Additionally, he is referring to Israel’s evacuation order to 1 million Palestinians," Biggs spokesperson Matthew Tragesser told PolitiFact in an email. Tragesser said "many Democrats" including Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., "have publicly supported bringing in the Palestinian population via the refugee resettlement process to the United States."
We asked Tragesser to point to specific statements by the two lawmakers showing they called for 1 million refugees from Gaza to be allowed into the U.S. and got no response. Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez have made broad statements supporting refugees, but we found no statements showing they called for 1 million to come to the U.S.
Comments by two members do not represent the entire party.
Some social media posts making the 1 million claim linked to an Oct. 14 New York Post article headlined, "Progressives call for US to take in some of the expected 1 million Gaza refugees." But the story quotes only one Democratic lawmaker — Bowman — and he didn’t call for a specific number of refugees to enter the U.S.
Bowman said that "50% of the population in Gaza are children. The international community as well as the United States should be prepared to welcome refugees from Palestine while being very careful to vet and not allow members of Hamas."
We contacted Bowman’s office to ask whether that was his full statement or whether he has said how many Gaza refugees he thinks the U.S. should receive. We got no response.
In an Oct. 16 CNN interview with Ocasio-Cortez, host Abby Phillip played a clip of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who said he opposed allowing any refugees from Gaza into the U.S. and said "all" of them are anti-Semitic. Phillip asked Ocasio-Cortez if the Arab countries should take on the "lionshare of the burden to absorb what could be over 1 million if not more refugees from Gaza."
Ocasio-Cortez said she supports accepting refugees, but cited no number.
"I think there’s something to be said about the region’s partners being able to support and step up Palestinians," she said. "However, that does not abdicate the United States from our historic role that we’ve played in the world of accepting refugees and allowing people to restart their lives here." We contacted Ocasio-Cortez’s press office to ask whether she made any statements calling for a specific number of refugees to be allowed into the U.S. and got no response.
Even if there were any evidence to the claim that Democrats are advocating to accept such a sizable number of refugees into the U.S., current policies would not allow that.
Receiving refugee status is a difficult process that can take years.
Biden campaigned in 2020 on a promise to set annual refugee admissions at 125,000 and seek to raise it over time. We gave Biden a Promise Kept in July for raising the refugee cap to 125,000.
But in the federal fiscal year ended in September, the U.S. let in about half the allowable amount: 60,014, including 56 Palestinians, according to the Refugee Processing Center within the State Department.
There is another path for people fleeing difficult situations including war: humanitarian parole. Unlike refugee status, parole does not include a path to citizenship but does allow people to live and work in the U.S. for two years. Biden has extended parole to people from Afghanistan, Ukraine and some Latin American countries.
Through Aug. 31, more than 211,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans had arrived lawfully under the humanitarian parole processes, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
But PolitiFact found no evidence that Democrats are widely advocating for 1 million people to enter through that process, either.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council, which advises President Joe Biden on national security and foreign policy, told PolitiFact that there are no plans for any new refugee programs or granting parole. That matched what National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Oct. 12.
Spencer Tilger, a spokesperson for the International Refugee Assistance Project, a legal aid group, said Palestinian refugees have historically faced hurdles — and they do now as well.
"Given that there are no airports in Gaza, and the territory’s Egyptian and Israeli borders are sealed, a more pressing concern is that Palestinians displaced by Israeli military action actually have no safe place to go or safe way to get there," Tilger said.
Biggs said the Democrats are pushing "to take in a million Palestinian refugees."
That’s how many people in north Gaza have been told to leave: 1 million.
Two Democrats — Reps. Bowman and Ocasio-Cortez — said the U.S. should accept some refugees, but neither mentioned a number. They talked about other countries doing their part, too.
The U.S. would not be able to take in 1 million refugees from Gaza — that’s eight times the cap for all refugees.
We rate this statement Pants on Fire!
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Az., X, Oct. 16, 2023
Gateway Pundit, X, Oct. 15, 2023
Fox News, House GOP members introduce bill to block Palestinian refugees from entering US, Oct. 15, 2023
New York Post, Progressives call for US to take in some of the expected 1 million Gaza refugees. Oct. 15, 2023
The Hill, Ocasio-Cortez: DeSantis remarks about Gazans are ‘incredibly destructive and dangerous’ Oct. 17, 2023
CNN’s Abby Phillip, X, Oct. 17, 2023
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the near east, UNRWA situation report, Oct. 17, 2023
Migration Policy Institute, Generations of Palestinian Refugees Face Protracted Displacement and Dispossession, May 23, 2023
Migration Policy Institute, Welcoming Afghans and Ukrainians to the United States: A Case in Similarities and Contrasts, July 13, 2022
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Refugee Processing and Security Screening, June 3, 2020
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP Releases August 2023 Monthly Update, Sept. 22, 2023
Congress.gov, H.R.5959 - To make ineligible for visas, admission, or parole aliens that are holders of passports issued by the Palestinian Authority, Introduced Oct. 13, 2023
Refugee Processing Center, Admissions & Arrivals, Sept. 30, 2023
PolitiFact, Joe Biden keeps promise to raise refugee admissions to 125,000, July 6, 2023
National Security Council, Statement to PolitiFact, Oct. 17, 2023
Email interview, Matthew Tragesser, spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Az., Oct. 17, 2023
Email interview, Spencer Tilger, spokesperson for the International Refugee Assistance Project, Oct. 17, 2023
Email interview, Theresa Cardinal Brown, senior advisor on Immigration and Border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Oct. 16, 2023
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