Border and Enforcement News

Posted on: March 9th, 2015
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Lawmakers Seek to Increase Visa Waiver Program Security Measures

Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers are seeking to increase security measures for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The waiver program – established in 1986 to facilitate tourism and trade with allied countries – allows nationals from thirty eight specified countries to travel in the U.S. for up to 90 days without a traditional visa. Some worry that the program leaves the U.S. vulnerable to terrorists with citizenship in VWP-eligible countries.

Over 3,000 European nationals have traveled to Syria to train and fight alongside Islamic extremist groups. U.S. lawmakers are concerned that some of these 3,000 European nationals, who are now trained and equipped to launch violent attacks, will travel to the U.S. via the Visa Waiver Program to commit acts of terrorism.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and VWP-eligible allies already cooperate to screen waiver applications based on no-fly lists, terrorist watch lists, and falsified or stolen passports. Even with these security measures in place, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and other U.S. government officials hope to further strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program, which Feinstein considers to be the “Achilles heel of America”.


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