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Larson Applauds Bipartisan Bill to Close Loopholes in Visa Waiver Program

December 8, 2015
Press Release

Washington – Today, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act (H.R. 158):

“In light of the horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, it is unquestionably clear that homegrown terrorism and European nationals returning from terrorist hot-spots continue to pose an imminent threat to the security of our homeland," said Larson. "Nothing is more important than the safety of the American people, and I hope today’s bipartisan vote is an indication that we can begin a sincere dialogue on ways to address a number of concrete security gaps – keeping firearms out of terrorists’ hands included.

“I commend Leader Pelosi and Speaker Ryan for putting politics aside to focus on the critical effort to prevent terrorists from entering the United States. This bill is not a panacea, but it is a first step towards thoughtfully and effectively strengthening security.”

Currently, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows nationals from 38 countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days with merely an online security screening prior to their admission, the effectiveness of which is often compromised by insufficient intelligence sharing by the VWP countries. Under this bill, new passport requirements would make it harder for criminals or extremists to falsify their identities when traveling to the United States, and the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department would remove countries from the VWP unless all travelers are screened against INTERPOL databases. Additionally, those who have traveled to Iraq, Syria, or countries deemed state sponsors of terrorism will be required to undergo additional screenings unless that travel was conducted as part of military service or on behalf of a federal agency.