Plan would no longer allow people who have traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan since March 2011 or held citizenship in one of the countries to enter the U.S. through an expedited process
Congress is headed toward imposing new travel restrictions on foreigners who have traveled to countries such as Iran, Syria and Iraq in the last five years, tapping into public anxiety following the Paris and California terror attacks.
The restrictions would apply to citizens of 38 countries, mostly in Europe and Asia, who enjoy special travel privileges allowing them to come to the U.S. without a visa.
|Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)|
Under provisions included in a must-pass spending deal unveiled Wednesday, people who had traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan since March 2011 or who held citizenship in one of the countries could no longer enter the U.S. through an expedited screening process. They would need to obtain a visa.
“This is a potential vulnerability for the United States,” Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) said Tuesday.
U.S. entry restrictions on people who have traveled to
countries including Iran and Syria have been included
in a must pass spending bill. Above, visa applicants wall
at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. AP
The action, unusually swift for Congress, coincides with rising public focus on national-security issues, where Republicans typically hold an edge, and an effort by President Barack Obama to show he is in touch with public concerns about combating the threat posed by Islamic State.
The Obama administration on Tuesday was criticized by members of its own party for its handling of visas, with 21 Senate Democrats led by Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) urging the Department of Homeland Security to immediately conduct social-media background checks when it screens visa applications. DHS currently looks at postings by visa applicants intermittently, as part of three pilot programs that began in earnest this year.
Some 20 million people a year enter the U.S. through the visa-waiver program, which was first created in 1986 to encourage tourism. The program allows short-term stays of up to 90 days. Conservatives have been skeptical of the program, and nearly a decade ago tried to end funding for it on the grounds that it was too easy for would-be terrorists to manipulate.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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