WASHINGTON – After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States re-evaluated and updated many of its travel policies. Now, the recent rise of the terrorist group ISIL is re-igniting that conversation.
“We have these terrorist organizations that are using our freedoms in America against us,” said Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI).
But Miller, the Vice Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said federal agencies can take steps to stop that trend.
Right now, more than three dozen countries participate in a Visa Waiver Program – allowing citizens from those countries who hold Western passports, to travel to the United States without a visa. But Miller said that practice often leaves the United States vulnerable to attacks.
“We also, always, have to be vigilant and we have to look at the different processes and systems that we have in place that they are exploiting to attack us here in the homeland,” Miller said. “We must always protect our homeland.”
Miller recently introduced the Visa Waiver Improvement Act of 2014; legislation that would re-evaluate the current program in the U.S., and open communication between the countries involved.
“We’re very concerned about having data shared between these countries,” she said.
The bill would act as a counter-terrorism tool, by allowing the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend participation of countries in the Visa Waiver Program if they don’t share an individual’s travel history with the United States. A practice that, Miller said, will protect Americans.
“We’ll be able to really look at that against our terrorist watch list,” she said. “And make sure that we are able to track these terrorists before they come into the United States.”