GOP Senators Seek to Block Iran's President From US Visit Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran on Aug. 29. (Getty Images)
By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 15 September 2022 08:33 AM EDT
Six Republican senators have introduced a bill to ban Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi from entering the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting, which runs through Sept. 27.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Marco Rubio of Florida, joined together to introduce the Strengthen Entry Visa Enforcement and Restrictions [SEVER] Act on Wednesday.
"Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi would already be excluded from entering the United States for the U.N. General Assembly if President [Joe] Biden and his administration were enforcing existing statutes in good faith," Cruz said in a statement.
"Raisi has a record of terrorist activities, including his advocacy for the assassination of [former] President [Donald] Trump and other U.S. officials. He is also listed by the State Department as ineligible for entering the United States because of mass atrocities he committed. Nevertheless, the Biden administration seems set on circumventing these restrictions.
"The SEVER Act will deny entry to Raisi and the few dozen individuals who are hand-picked by the Ayatollah to repress the Iranian people and pose threats to American national security, to ensure they cannot get into the United States. It is well within the rights of the United States to deny them entry, and we absolutely should."
Cruz told The Washington Free Beacon:"The United States is absolutely able to deny entry to anyone who threatens our national security. Raisi is a mass-murdering terrorist who was handpicked by the ayatollah — and he's coming to the United States while there are Iranian agents trying to murder former American officials and dissidents on American soil. Joe Biden should not grant him a visa, and Congress should pass the SEVER Act to ensure he doesn't do so now or in the future."
A bipartisan group of lawmakers and more than 500 Iranian-American professionals have already sent letters to Biden asking that Raisi be denied entry into the country for the meeting.
Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., wrote to Biden on behalf of 51 other members of Congress asking Biden to "deny Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation entry into the United States."
"Given Ebrahim Raisi's record of supporting terrorism and violating human rights, he should not be afforded the privilege to step onto American soil nor the privilege to address the United Nations General Assembly," Young's letter said.