Dem House candidate refuses to explain opposition to GOP rival’s bill restricting Palestinian immigration

Monica Tranel, a Democrat seeking to unseat Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke in the state’s election next year, complained publicly about her GOP opponent’s bill to halt Palestinian immigration into the U.S. amid the war in Israel, but refused to explain her stance on the issue.

Zinke’s measure, the Safeguarding Americans from Extremism (SAFE) Act, would deem any foreign national with a Palestinian Authority (PA) passport or PA-granted travel document inadmissible to the United States. The legislation would also block DHS from granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and asylum or refugee status to PA passport holders.

“BREAKING: Ryan Zinke, in a disgusting display of Islamophobia, just introduced a bill to expel Palestinians from the US who are here legally. We don’t have a choice — we must defeat him in November,” Tranel wrote in a post last week on X, formerly Twitter.

Fox News Digital asked the Montana Democrat to explain why she believes the bill is a “disgusting” move and where she stands on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East while most representatives express support for Israel. The Democrat did not respond.

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Fox asked Tranel whether she would have voted for the bipartisan Israel aid package that passed the House or supported a ceasefire in the Middle East, or whether she supported Zinke’s call for tougher sanctions on Iran and a ban on funds going to Iranian and Palestinian organizations. Tranel did not respond.

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“This bill looks and is a very, very hard and harsh bill. Absolutely. And I said from the very, very beginning,” Zinke told Fox of the bill. “I don’t think you’ll find a more stringent bill on the Gaza region than this. What has drawn us to this is that this administration has failed in every previous account or two that has come in this country.”

Tranel is running in the race for Montana’s First Congressional District, the same seat she ran for and lost in the 2022 midterms against now-incumbent Zinke.

A record-breaking 169 individuals on the FBI terror watch list were encountered at the southern border over the last 12 months, up from 98 in Fiscal Year 2022, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics.

In September alone, border officials arrested 18 people on the FBI’s terror watch list.

Lora Ries, director of the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, sounded the alarm after Hamas’ initial attack on Israel.

“So, when you combine 1.7 million with the 7.4 million CBP has encountered, we have to assume that the sleeper cells of terrorists are here inside the U.S., and Congress needs to wake up and pre-empt,” Ries said.

With FY 23 seeing 2.48 million migrant encounters at the southern border alone and the ongoing terrorist attacks on Israel, members of Congress and presidential candidates have also sounded the alarm on potential threats at U.S. borders and called for a halt on Palestinians’ entry into the U.S.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has also sounded off on potential terror threats crossing our southern border. 

“The idea of a potential terror attack occurring in the United States is no longer just a what-if — it is a when,” Daines said at the weekly Republican Senate Leadership press conference. “With a war in the Middle East emboldening violent extremists and a wide-open southern border, we are more and more vulnerable for attacks on our soil right here at home.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Bill Melugin, and Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.

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