Keeping the American People Safe
This week in the House of Representatives, we will be considering the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act (H.R. 158) introduced by Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI). This bill seeks to prevent our enemies from entering the United States through our visa-waiver program, a program intended to make it easier for citizens of friendly countries (including Britain, France, Belgium, etc.) to come to the U.S. Currently, citizens of those countries could stay for up to 90 days without a visa.
But as Congresswoman Miller recently said, “…it is no secret that ISIS is recruiting people from many of these same countries. For instance, the suspected mastermind of the attacks in Paris was a citizen of Belgium.” Additionally, she said, “…other countries often don’t give us all of the information that we need to identify possible threats.”
This is a security weakness that we must address. The Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act would strengthen the visa-waiver program, barring citizens of visa waiver nations who have traveled to Syria or Iraq within the past five years (since the start of the Syrian civil war) from participating. This bill would also allow for the Department of Homeland Security to suspend a country’s ability to participate in this program. A similar proposal is working its way through the Senate as well.
Consideration of this bill follows House passage last month of the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act (H.R. 4038), which would immediately suspend the Syrian refugee resettlement program.
Though they are significant, targeted first steps, the SAFE Act and the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act will not solve all of our national security problems because no system is perfect.
In addition, we are looking for ways to improve our system, increase our border security, and tighten up our laws for those who overstay their work, travel, or student visas. Proposals such as these will strengthen our national security. I will keep you updated on our progress.