Senate Bill Would Block Visa Waivers For Europeans Who Visit Syria, Iraq

Senate Democrats are pushing a legislative alternative to stopping the U.S. plan to accept Syrian refugees, which would place restrictions on which Europeans receive visa waivers.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), would keep Europeans who have traveled to Iraq or Syria in the past five years from entering the U.S. without a travel visa, according to The Hill. Under the visa waiver program, citizens from certain European countries can enter the U.S. for 90 days without a visa.

“Let’s say France has had 2,000 people leave to go and fight [in Syria.] They’re a visa waiver country so the people come back to France and then they come into the United States. The bill we would propose would strictly limit that,” Feinstein told reporters on Wednesday, according to The Hill.

The bill would also change fingerprinting requirements for those covered by the visa waiver program.

“Currently, in most cases, the fingerprints are checked after they arrive in the United States. They should be done before,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, according to The Hill.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said that senators discussed concerns over the visa waiver program more than the vetting of Syrian refugees during a briefing with Department of Homeland Security officials on Wednesday, according to Roll Call.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “the visa waiver program potentially is the place where there’s greater gaps possibly than the refugee program itself,” according to The Hill.

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