02.18.16

McCaul, Miller on Further Travel Restrictions for Visa Waiver Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) today released the following statements on the Administration’s announcement that foreign travelers who have recently visited Libya, Somalia, and Yemen will no longer be allowed to enter the United States visa-free and will be required to go through additional security vetting. In December, Congress passed a law requiring extra screening measures for individuals from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries who traveled to terrorist hotspots, including Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Sudan. The law also permitted the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate additional countries of concern based on the threat posed by terrorism from those countries.

Chairman McCaul: “I commend Secretary Johnson for adding Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to the list of countries of concern, triggering additional security procedures which will help make America safer. It is vitally important that individuals who have recently traveled to these terrorist hotspots are not eligible to enter the United States visa-free. Instead, they must go through additional screening which will help us ensure that terrorists do not exploit the travel system to infiltrate our country. I also urge the Administration to remain vigilant in monitoring the evolving terror threat to the homeland – so that emerging terrorist safe havens can be added, as need.

“Despite these positive steps, I still have grave concerns that the Administration is not implementing this law as Congress intended and plans to waive important security screening requirements to appease countries like Iran. The President must faithfully adhere to the law—it’s his duty to the Constitution and to ensure the security of the American people.”

Rep. Miller: “I support this expansion announced by the Department of Homeland Security, designating Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as countries of concern whose citizens will undergo additional screening prior to entering the U.S. This expansion is a prudent measure expressly authorized under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Protection Act so that DHS has the ability to adapt to the ever-changing threat of global terror.”

The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 overwhelmingly passed the house with bi-partisan support and became law as part of the year-end spending bill signed into law on December 18, 2015 by President Obama.  Chairman McCaul sent a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson this month urging that Libya and other areas where ISIL now has a presence should be added to the list of countries of concern.

Chairman McCaul and other key House leaders also sent a letter to Secretaries Kerry and Johnson and another letter to President Obama expressing their concerns on the implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act.

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