Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | ISIS | visa waivers | terrorism

Ex-DHS Chief Chertoff: Don't Let Fear Limit Access to US

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 07:05 AM

Proposed legislation introduced by Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to suspend the Visa Waiver Program would damage the economy, complicate Obama administration foreign policy, and undermine America's reputation, according to former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, The Daily Signal reported.

The program waives visa requirements for citizens of 38 countries, including friendly European states, Australia, and Japan. Visitors from these countries can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days.

Fears that Islamic terrorists with valid European passports would exploit the program to carry out attacks on the homeland have led to calls for its suspension.

Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said such a move would be counterproductive overkill. "It would be the equivalent of conducting an operation that requires a scalpel by using a chainsaw," the Signal reported.

Security measures already in place, including the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ensure that those who pose a security risk to the country are barred from entry.

"It needs to be clear that the program does not allow anyone willy-nilly to enter the U.S. whether or not they pose a risk," Chertoff said, according to the Signal.

Tourism is a key element in the economy. Foreign tourists in 2013 spent $180 billion, according to Adam Sacks of Tourism Economics, the Signal reported. Some 40 percent of visitors who entered the country from 2000 to 2013 came through the Visa Waiver Program.

Suspending the program would be costly and require hiring more visa processing staff at U.S. embassies overseas. Suspension would also irritate allies needed in the coalition against the Islamic State group.

"And it would give a boost to [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin, who would go to the Baltics and say, 'They told you they were friends, but the U.S. pitched you aside at the first sign of trouble.'"

Gabbard's legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, would suspend the program for any country whose passport holders are fighting with Islamic extremist organizations. Federal authorities would have the power to re-authorize visa waivers based on recommendations of the intelligence community.

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Proposed legislation to suspend the Visa Waiver Program would damage the economy, complicate Obama administration foreign policy, and undermine America's reputation, said former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
ISIS, visa waivers, terrorism
366
2014-05-07
Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 07:05 AM
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