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Senator Blunt Backs Key Reforms to Strengthen Visa Waiver Program, Protect Americans

December 08, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today co-sponsored the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, legislation to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program.

“The federal government’s number one responsibility is to keep Americans safe. To do that, we must strengthen the Visa Waiver Program to ensure terrorists cannot exploit America’s ties with our friends and allies to enter the country and carry out attacks within our borders. The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act takes several important steps to enhance the security of the program, without inflicting undue harm on our economy and the millions of Americans who depend on the travel and tourism industry. The measure has strong, bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, and should be passed and signed into law without delay.”

Following are several key reforms included in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act:

  • Denies VWP status to individuals who are from Iraq, Syria, and other countries with significant terrorist activity, or who have visited those countries in the past five years;
  • Requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to terminate a country from the VWP if the country does not share intelligence or law enforcement information;
  • Requires all VWP countries to check travelers against INTERPOL databases to determine whether the traveler is wanted by law enforcement agencies based on ties to terrorism or criminal activity;
  • Requires all VWP countries to issue their citizens fraud-resistant “e-passports” containing biometric information, and requires countries to be able to confirm that such documents are legitimate when they are scanned;
  • Requires top U.S. security agencies to conduct more frequent intelligence and threat assessments of VWP countries to determine whether they pose a high risk to the national security of the United States; and
  • Requires DHS to take steps to better detect false information, improve the validation of data supplied by travelers, and add new data fields to enhance checks on each travelers.

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