Analysis of the
WASHINGTON, DC (December 14, 2015) — The Center for Immigration Studies has published an analysis of the "Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015," the House bill drafted to tighten up the visa waiver program (VWP). It has been reported that the measure will be included in the omnibus 2016 spending bill as a kind of political replacement for the bill passed in November to tighten up refugee security screening.
"Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015"
A substitute for doing anything meaningful
Originally introduced in January by Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich), H.R. 158 was significantly amended and received renewed support with the recent national security concern following the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
The bill, passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, does not solve the national security problem resulting from an inability to completely vet possible applicants and screen for terrorist radicals. But the legislation is more ambitious than the Senate version.
One key provision makes it out-of-bounds for people who have visited – or who are natives of – Syria or Iraq, or state sponsors of terror to use the VWP. Another major provision tightens up requirements and certifications by countries to live by the conditions of the participation – including use of fraud-resistant passports and strict timeframes for reporting of lost or stolen documents.
Dan Cadman, a Center fellow and author of the analysis, said, "Congress has at last decided to tackle many of the gaps and problems with the VWP, which has represented for some time the "soft underbelly of homeland security"; but there can be no doubt that the U.S. vetting for refugees and asylum seekers still represents a major national security risk, and remains an unaddressed problem."
View the entire report at: http://cis.org/Brief-Analysis-HR-158-Visa-Waiver-Program-Improvement-Act-2015
One major problem with the bill is the exception to several requirements that has been carved out for countries in the Schengen visa-free zone, which covers nearly all of northern, western, and central Europe, including hotbeds of terrorist activities in France and Belgium. Cadman writes that "this exception is the caveat that undoes the intent of the rule."
Contact: Marguerite Telford