Bob Goodlatte: A matter of national security

bob-goodlatte-afp2We’ve known for some time that vulnerabilities exist in our immigration system. It should come as no surprise that terrorists have and will continue to exploit the holes in our immigration laws. Contrary to what President Obama may say, recent events both abroad and in the United States are proof that the terrorist threat of ISIS is real and clearly not contained. It’s a matter of national security that we improve the immigration system.

Legitimate concerns have been raised that ISIS terrorists and sympathizers could enter the U.S. through what is called the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Created in 1986 as a way to promote and facilitate travel and tourism to the U.S., this program allows nationals of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for a maximum of 90 days for business or tourism purposes, without obtaining a visa. The particular concern with this program, however, is the fact that an estimated 5,000 Europeans – many of whom live in countries that participate in this program and may have the ability to come to the U.S. under it – have gone to countries like Syria or Iraq in order to train and fight alongside ISIS and the radical Islamist terrorists. While the positive effects of the VWP on our economy should not be understated, no amount of economic stimulation is worth risking the lives of American citizens.

Just a few days ago, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, by an overwhelming vote of 407 to 19. This bipartisan measure takes constructive steps to close gaping security holes in the program and enhance Americans’ safety.

Strengthening the Visa Waiver Program, while a good first step, is only one piece of the puzzle. Other vulnerabilities continue to exist in our immigration system, and the House must address these by taking up several bills already approved by the House Judiciary Committee to strengthen the asylum process, improve visa processing security, and finally prevent the interior immigration enforcement switch from being turned off at the whim of whoever happens to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District of Virginia in Congress.



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