The Republicans didn’t get much in the Omnibus bill but they did get some minimal visa travel restrictions denying foreign nationals from using the US Visa Waiver Program if they’ve traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. The good news is the Obama administration announced Thursday they will implement it.
The bad news is the administration is waiving it for Iranian businessmen who could of course be spies, terrorists, et cetera. The Department of Homeland Security said in a press release Thursday that there were several other kinds of travel that are “eligible” for a waiver of the tighter visa rules.
“In drafting this bill, Congress included a national security and law enforcement waiver to exempt certain individuals from the new requirements only in limited circumstances,” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said. “It was never designed or intended to apply to broad categories of VWP travelers,” he added, referring to the Visa Waiver Program.
Several exceptions could be made, Obama said, including travel for government officials or organizations on official duty, and those who travel to the four countries for humanitarian or journalism purposes.
That’s pretty much anyone who wants to come here from one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
In December,the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran accused the United States of violating the nuclear deal (they didn’t sign) by toughening up visa requirements. Apparently the US is not allowed to change immigration laws.
“If the United States Congress cannot implement a more secure visa procedure for those who travel to state sponsors of terrorism like Iran, then the Iran deal ties the hands of lawmakers to a greater extent than even deal critics feared,” Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert in Iran sanctions, told Bloomberg Views.
Apparently we’ve given in on this as well.
In a letter to his Iranian counterpart in December, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reassured Iran that the law “will not in any way prevent us from meeting our JCPOA commitments.”
Kerry noted in a letter to Mohammad Javad Zarif that there are “a number of potential tools available,” including multiple entry ten-year business visas and programs for expediting business visas. He also said the White House had the power to issue waivers to potentially exempt individuals from the new travel laws.
An enemy of the United States can get waivers when they are among those who are putting us in danger? The AP reported that Iran has attacked our power grid but we are going to give them waivers. It will make it easier for them to attack us, won’t it?
What do you think about this?