Conexión Del Río/Staff Report

WASHINGTON, DC – Congress came one step closer to tightening visa loopholes that could be used by terrorists. The House Committee of Homeland Security unanimously approved legislation authored by U.S. Representative Will Hurd, a former CIA officer from San Antonio, as part of an ongoing counterterrorism initiative to enhance U.S. visa screening procedures at posts overseas. Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be authorized to deploy trained law enforcement personnel for applicant vetting and biometric screening technology to 50 U.S. Embassies abroad. 

“We simply cannot afford to let terrorists slip through the cracks,” said Hurd. “We live in a day and age when bad actors from all over the world could exploit our legal visa process and plot against Americans. It is time we send trained professionals to properly vet travelers in order to push out our borders and stop those who seek to do us harm before they even get to our shores.” 

The U.S. Travel Association offered their support of the Strong Visa Integrity Secures America Act of 2016: “The enhanced security protocols included in H.R. 5253 will not only intelligently advance visa security efforts in our constantly changing global threat landscape, but also keep our country connected and competitive on the world stage. For those reasons, the travel industry supports this legislation and looks forward to continually working with committee members on visa security issues.”

“I would like to express our strong support for H.R. 5253, the Strong Visa Integrity Secures America Act, which is aimed at improving visa applicant vetting and overall visa security measures,” said Don Erickson, CEO of Security Industry Association. “Strengthening visa integrity will help protect all Americans, and the federal government must be able to utilize the reliable technologies that are readily available.”

“The Chamber applauds the Committee for focusing on the important issue of national security as it pertains to the visa granting process,” said R. Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. “The Chamber was also pleased with the focus of the bill’s sponsors on potential risks to the country. This approach is reflected throughout the bill, whether it concerns the placement of Homeland Security personnel at diplomatic and consular posts around the world, performing visa security assistance remotely, or the new requirements for CBP to conduct continuous screening of individuals seeking to enter the U.S.”

The Strong Visa Integrity Secures America Act of 2016 is expected to advance to the House floor in upcoming weeks.