Representative Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, voted with 406 Other Congress members to approve an act that tightens Visa waivers and travel laws in response to a recent series of terrorist attacks around the world.
The “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” prevents non-U.S residents who have visited countries including Syria, Iraq and “any other country or area of concern” from traveling to the U.S. without a visa.
“A lot of things are happening in the world today that the citizens of America are cautious of right now. I think the Visa Waiver Program act is perfect example of doing something to keep Americans safer,” Knight said. “There will be a little more of a protection standard. I don’t understand why Congress members don’t want to do this. It has nothing to doing with Syria, it has everything to do with erring on caution.”
The act was passed in a 407-19 vote.The 19 who were not in favor were Democrats, with four California representatives voting against the act.
“House Democrats and House Republicans have no greater priority than keeping Americans safe. That is not a partisan issue nor is it a partisan difference. Many Americans are frustrated with the pace of progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” according to the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer. “I want to see the Administration and Congress working together to protect our nation. The reforms in this bill are an excellent start.”
There are 38 countries are currently part of the Visa Waiver Program. According to H.R. 158, the act would allow ”the Secretary of Homeland Security (to) terminate the designation of the country as a program country” if the country fails to provide information. The act also reforms passport security measures.
The act will begin “cracking down on the loopholes in the visa-waiver program….there are loopholes—gaps in our system—that need to be dealt with,” said Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. “We’ve identified this with our taskforce in Congress, and we are working on bipartisan legislation to plug that loophole, just like we did two weeks ago on the issue of Syrian refugees.”