Thursday, February 4, 2016

CONYERS, Dingell, Kildee and Lawrence Urge Fixes to Visa Waiver Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, four Democratic members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation, U.S. Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-5), and Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) cosigned a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson urging the Administration to establish waivers to protect dual nationals from discriminatory travel guidelines, and ensure that no American is treated differently due to their national origin or ancestry.

In the letter, the Members request that the Departments of State and Homeland Security implement their authority under Section 203 of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act to support American interests abroad; establish waivers to protect dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan; and to ensure uninterrupted visa-free travel to VWP countries for American citizens who have visited Iran for family, academic, or tourist related purposes.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Reps. Conyers, Dingell, Kildee and Lawrence stated, “As Members of Congress we must balance the need to maintain our national security with our responsibility to safeguard the civil rights and liberties of the American people. The recently implemented Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act may cause dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria to be excluded from the Visa Waiver Program. These recent changes to the long-established Visa Waiver Program, which is based on reciprocity, could result in discriminatory impact on U.S. citizens.

“Equal treatment of all American citizens is a central tenet of our national principles, regardless of their birthplace. We will continue to work on legislation, such as the Equal Protection Act of 2016, with our Congressional colleagues on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to ensure that the rights of all Americans are protected, while strengthening the Visa Waiver Program.”

Additionally, Reps. Conyers, Dingell, Kildee and Lawrence are cosponsors of H.R. 4380, the Equal Protection Act of 2016, which was introduced on January 13, 2016 in response to discriminatory changes made in the VWP in December 2015.   If passed, the legislation would strike the dual national provisions to ensure that no one would be discriminated against on the basis of their nationality or ancestry.

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