Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that U.S. Homeland Security officals should adopt a more restrictive approach to the visa waiver program rather than expand it. During a recent hearing on Capital Hill, she stated a fear that terrorists are are looking for any loopholes in the system to enter the United States. Below is an excerpt. Click here for the full article.
"Feinstein is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, which heard testimony in September on the “Visa Waiver Program: Mitigating Risks to Ensure Safety of All Americans.” The visa waiver program (VWP) allows citizens in participating countries to enter the United States without obtaining a visa or being interviewed or screened in U.S. embassies and consulates. Bush administration officials are “moving aggressively” to expand the program to include 13 new countries before the end of the year, according to a General Accounting Office (GAO) report released in late September. Those prospective new members include Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and South Korea. At present, the VWP allows citizens of 27 nations to enter the United States for business or travel for up to 90 days. Some 13 million foreign citizens took advantage of the program last year, the GAO report states. Expanding the program is warranted in part because the new nations under consideration have had strong economic, political, and military ties with the U.S., say officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)."