Hearing

02.10.16

National Security and Law Enforcement: Breaking the New Visa Waiver Law to Appease Iran

February 10, 2016 11:00 AM | 311 Cannon House Office Building

Last December, the Homeland Security Committee, White House, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reached a bi-partisan agreement on the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. This law strengthens the Visa Waiver Program and helps secure the homeland against the growing threat of foreign fighters with Western passports. This progress was quickly tarnished when Secretary of State John Kerry unilaterally sent a letter to the Iranian Foreign Minister indicating that he would use national security waiver authority – a power not granted to the Secretary of State – to exempt Iranian business travelers from following the law. DHS subsequently announced their implementation strategy, confirming that waivers would be used to exempt individuals, contrary to the law.  This hearing will allow Members to question DHS and State Department Officials on their apparent willingness to break the law by using limited waiver authority to exempt large categories of people from the important national security provisions of the law.

VWP_Timeline

 

VWP_Waivers

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U.S. Department of State Bureau of Counterterrorism “Country Reports on Terrorism 2014” p.285

U.S. Department of State Bureau of Counterterrorism “Country Reports on Terrorism 2014” p.285

Statement on U.S. Begins Implementation of Changes to the VWP

Opening Statements

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman
Opening Statement

Live Stream

Witnesses

The Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske
Commissioner
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Witness Statement

Ms. Hillary Batjer Johnson
Deputy Coordinator
Homeland Security, Screening, and Designations
Bureau of Counterterrorism
U.S. Department of State
Witness Statement