Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | February 18, 2016 – In a statement issued today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it is “continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply alarmed by the extension of discriminatory travel prohibitions to additional Arab nations. There is no empirical evidence to support that these travel bans will effectively strengthen the Visa Waiver Program. These regulations are more likely to screen out health and aid workers, clergymen, journalists, teachers, translators, businessmen and others who help get their families and loved ones to safety. Politicians should not forget that many people who traveled to these countries helped to expose the humanitarian crisis and save many civilians from death. These restrictions essentially penalize them for their morals and dedication to humanity.
ADC President Samer Khalaf stated, “The bill is not just a visa requirement, it is discriminatory. This Act makes VWP Arab nationals second class citizens in their own country – they are not afforded the same benefits as their fellow nationals.”
The discriminatory restrictions will directly impact millions of additional American citizens as well because the VWP is based on principles of reciprocity. Our partner countries are likely to reciprocate and enact similar restrictions on Americans.
The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act is a reactionary tool being implemented by Congress to profile based on national origin. As of today, the VWP restrictions will apply to anyone who has traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 1, 2011.