House tightens restrictions on visa-waiver program

On Tuesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to require visas for all those who have been to Iraq or Syria in the past five years who want to travel to the U.S..

“This will help neutralize the threat from foreign terrorists entering our country,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday.

The bill which passed 407-19 takes aim at the visa-waiver program.

The visa-waiver program allows citizens of 38 participant nations to come to the U.S. and stay for 90 days without obtaining visas.

“You have more than 5,000 individuals that have Western passports in this program that have gone to Iraq or Syria in the last five years,” said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Those are gaps that we need to fix.”

Additionally, in order for those countries to stay in the program, they must share counter terrorism intelligence with the U.S. government.

The push to tighten restrictions on visas came after the Paris attacks last month.

Many of the terrorists who participated in those attacks had passports from countries which take part in the U.S. visa-waiver program.

The measure had bi-partisan support from both Republicans and Democrats. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) worked closely with his GOP counterparts on the bill and says that this measure is a reasonable security measure when compared to Donald Trump’s recent call to exclude all Muslims from entering the United States.

“The important issue here is no one is excluded by this bill. There are however additional requirements designed to ensure that those who come in this country are in fact not a risk to this country,” Hoyer said.

 

[CNN] [The Associated Press]