Visa program creates vulnerability for ISIL to exploit
The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is spurring calls for major changes to a visa program that allows for easy entry into the United States for people with Western passports.Those looking to expand the program are focused on increasing the tourist trade and not on [preventing terrorist attacks. They probably should rethink their support for the program in the light of the imminent threat posed by ISIL.
Some lawmakers say the program, which allows citizens from 38 countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa, has created a major security weakness for groups such as ISIS to exploit.
House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said Friday that as many as 12,000 members of ISIS have U.S. or European passports and could slip into America undetected.
“The biggest fear is that there are 10,000 to 12,000 foreign fighters that have joined ISIS and various estimates but many of them have Western passports,” Thornberry said on CNN.
“They're either American or they're Western European passports. So they can come here to the United States homeland without a visa. And they can bring … what they've learned about bomb making and about assassinations with them here at home.”
But lawmakers have mostly talked about expanding the program, not scaling it back.