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Murphy, Blumenthal Co-Sponsor Visa Wavier Security Bill


U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have co-sponsored a bill that would increase security for the Visa Waiver Program.

Under the Visa Waiver Program, citizens of 38 countries—including 30 in Europe, 3 in East Asia, 1 in South America, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and Brunei—don’t need a Visa to visit the U.S. for less than 90 days. Those visitors can fill out a form online, bring a passport, and board a jet to come to the U.S.

Blumenthal says 45 million passports are forged or stolen each year, and they pose a security threat within the program.

“These vulnerabilities in the Visa Waiver program are a clear and present threat everyday because those terrorists meaning to do harm can use those forged and stolen passports to enter this country with almost no scrutiny, and that’s why stepping up the scrutiny is so important,” he said.

Blumenthal says the bill would require people with a visa waiver to get a passport with an electronic chip that includes biometric information like fingerprints. The bill would also require countries to share more intelligence about visa applicants.

The bill would end visa waivers for anyone who has traveled to Syria or Iraq in the past five years—those people would have to get a traditional tourist visa.

Blumenthal said the bill has bipartisan support in the Senate and a companion bill is moving forward in the House.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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