House Passes Bill To Strengthen Visa Restrictions

In a move toward enacting harsher border control, the House passed a visa restriction bill which would make it more difficult for people to enter the United States without a visa, even if they're from an ally nation. According to Politico, a majority of the House members — even the Democrats — voted for the bill, which passed 407 to 19. The main point of the bill, which was pushed through over fears about terrorists possibly coming into the country, is to stop people from coming to the U.S. if they've previously visited Iraq or Syria, where ISIS has a hold on many of the citizens.

Currently, people from 38 countries are allowed to visit the United States for 90 days without a visa for business or tourism purposes. This program is why many U.S. citizens can travel to most countries in Europe without having a visa. This new bill, however, would change that. One stipulation attached to it would increase intelligence sharing between the partner countries.

One of the suspected San Bernardino shooters, Tashfeen Malik, has been cited as evidence for why the program needs to change, despite the fact that Malik came to the United States on a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancee visa. So these new changes wouldn't have stopped her and her American husband, Syed Farook, from carrying out the shooting.

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Although the bill passed the House, it still has obstacles to overcome before it could be enacted. First it must go through the Senate, where there are a few obstacles. Notably, some senators actually want to make the visa restrictions even tougher. But since there was bipartisan support for the bill in the House, and there is in the Senate as well, it will probably easily pass through both chambers. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul spoke about the reasoning behind the bill: radicalized people who might hold a European passport from one of the partner countries.

That’s what this bill is designed to stop. We need to strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program to keep terrorists from reaching our shores.