The U.S. House of Representatives will take up a bill this week to tighten U.S. border control after last month’s Paris attacks by toughening entry requirements for those traveling from “visa waiver” nations, a Republican leader said on Wednesday.
“Now we’re looking at the visa waiver program – those gaps and vulnerabilities in that,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on CNN. “You’re going to see a bill roll out later this week and pass next week as well.”
McCarthy then told Fox Business Network the bill would be unveiled on Thursday and would “move through in a very strong bipartisan vote next week.”
The Obama administration this week announced changes to the program, which allows travelers from 38 countries, including much of Western Europe, to enter the United States without obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy. Each year about 20 million visitors to the United States use the program, which allows them to stay 90 days.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, in a statement, said lawmakers will consider several changes, including requiring participating countries “to issue smart e-passports with biometric chips” and screening travelers with databases of lost and stolen passports and criminals.
“In the coming days, the House will continue to evaluate these proposals and determine appropriate next steps to ensure we know exactly who is entering our country,” the chamber’s top leader said.
This is all well and good, and the fact that it has bipartisan support is encouraging. A grateful nation will be spared listening to some of the childish rhetoric as we head into the holidays.
However, it’s a real head-scratcher as to why there can be a national discussion about such things only after people are slaughtered. Many of us have been hoping that “steps to ensure we know who exactly is entering our country” have been taken since, oh, late 2001.
Of course, any talk of tightening the rules is just so much political theater as long as our southern border remains open for all illegal business.