Typically, to enter the United States, a refugee would need to go through an extensive screening process. However, in the past, tourists from 38 specific countries could easily stay in the United States for under 90 days as part of a visa waiver program, which allows 20 million visitors per year to enter without a visa. The White House posted a "Fact Sheet" on this program here. Due to the recent, tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, the federal government has announced that changes will soon be made to restrict this program for safety reasons.
Members of congress from both political parties have suggested this change as the discussion of Syrian refugees in America grows. California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake have co-sponsored a visa waiver reform bill that would require "visa-waved" tourtists to have security chips in their passports and would exclude people who have traveled to Iraq or Syria in the last five years. Lawmakers believe that national security comes first and that refugees pose a possible threat. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer claims: "If a terrorist is going to try to come into this country, they’re much more likely to use loopholes in the visa waiver program to do it, instead of waiting two years to go through the refugee screening process."
However, opposition to these changes have grown, too. United States Travel Association President Roger Dow remembered, “in the aftermath of 9/11, America and its leaders chose freedom over fear, which enabled our nation’s recovery on multiple levels. That was the proper instinct then and it remains so now ... Let's address the security problems we have, rather than creating new ones.”
These proposed changes are leading many to believe that ulterior motives exist. According to a NBC poll, a majority 56% of the United States opposes accepting Syrian refugees. Changes to the visa waver program would hinder Obama's plan to accept 10,000 refugees in 2016, prompting him to vow to veto the bill.
What is your opinion on the following questions:
- Do you think we should be doing this? Do you think this is justified or for superficial (racist/prejudiced) reasons?
- Is it "american" to reject anyone from the United States? Should we let in as many Syrian refugees as possible/as much as resources allow/as few as possible? What is your opinion on the Chinese Exclusion Act?
- Did you support/would you have supported the visa waver program before this issue?
White House Fact Sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/30/fact-sheet-visa-waiver-program-enhancements
Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2015/11/30/white-house-moves-on-new-visa-waiver-regulations-asks-congress-for-more-reforms/
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/house-republicans-visa-waiver-program_565caec6e4b072e9d1c2c437
Christian Science Monitor (Video): http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2015/1130/White-House-zeroes-in-on-visa-waiver-program.-Will-Congress-follow-suit-video
NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/white-house-strengthens-visa-waiver-program-following-paris-attacks-n471621
YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0DAz_jwPM4