An Upstate congressman has proposed legislation calling for non-citizens who are on a terrorist watch list to be deported from the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican from Laurens, introduced the Terrorist Deportation Act earlier this month. Under his bill, anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident would face "immediate and mandatory deportation proceedings" if his or her name appears on the Terrorist Screening Database. Roughly 1 million people throughout the world are listed on the database — only 5 percent of them are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
The measure could lead to the deportation of 80,000 people in the United States, said Allen Klump, Duncan's deputy chief of staff.
The legislation is nearly identical to a bill that Duncan filed in September that died after being assigned to a subcommittee. With President Donald Trump now in the White House, Duncan said his measure has a better chance of passing.
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“This new administration provides an opportunity for us to get serious about securing our country again and to get tough with the terrorists who threaten the safety of our citizens,” Duncan said in a statement issued by his office. “My bill will make it harder for suspected terrorists to come to America and easier for our law enforcement and counter-terrorism professionals to remove suspected terrorists who are already here.”
Duncan, whose district includes part of Greenville and all of Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties, said his bill also would provide a legal remedy for people who have been mistakenly added to the terrorism watch list and related no-fly list.
"While we are making America safer for our citizens, we must also do everything we can to protect the rights of American citizens who are mistakenly caught up in terror investigations," he said. "My legislation seeks to achieve that balance point."
Ten Republican House members, including U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, are co-sponsoring Duncan's bill.
Duncan's bill sparked a spirited discussion on his Facebook page that included more than 180 comments and replies. Slightly more than half of the posts were supportive of his proposal.
“Thanks Jeff for being vigilant on these matters,” wrote one person. "”here are ideological groups that hate America and want to destroy this nation.”
Pickens resident Nikole Hunter-Weber expressed a different view. She described Duncan's bill as a “racist, Islamaphobe bill designed to keep 'those' people out of here.”
"This kind of hate is what is making terrorists HATE us even more," she wrote.
Bill O'Dell of Cashiers, North Carolina, said Duncan should “stop sowing FEAR” and “work on some real problems like healthcare, Social Security, infrastructure, child poverty, education, wage inequality, climate change, energy etc.”
Seneca resident Matt Alexander praised Duncan's bill.
“Thank you Congressman!” he wrote. “The more opposition that you get from these leftists, the better job you're doing! Let that be your barometer!”