Congresswoman highlights terrorist threats posed by homegrown radicalization and loopholes in Visa Waiver Program
Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–December 17, 2015. At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this morning, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) today called on her colleagues in Congress to focus on our nation’s real national security gaps instead of focusing their attention on wasteful, partisan efforts that may score political points, but do little to strengthen security and better protect the American people. While the Congresswoman supports improving security gaps wherever they exist, including in the refugee screening process, she highlighted that the Committee’s time would be better spent listening to intelligence officials and working in a bipartisan fashion to solve more pressing, high-risk security loopholes in programs like the Visa Waiver Program, which allows roughly 20 million foreign nationals—who are then able to legally purchase and possess firearms—into America without the vigorous screening in the refugee program.
“I strongly believe we must do everything in our power to protect our country, but we can do that without devolving into demagoguery and wasting time on imaginary problems.”said Congresswoman Duckworth. “So while I agree we can and should consider all options to improve the security of our refugee screening process, we must focus our efforts on addressing higher-risk threats, such as weaknesses in the Visa Waiver Program, the normal visa process and homegrown radicalization.”
The Congresswoman continued: “One of the 9/11 co-conspirators used the Visa Waiver Program to come to America. Some of the Paris attackers would have been eligible for the program, too. All told, 20 million foreign nationals avoid thorough security screening by using the program—and they are legally able to purchase firearms when they get here. There’s no reason why foreign nationals should be legally able to purchase assault weapons—but they are. If our mission is to keep America safe from terrorists, let’s talk about closing that loophole. Instead of finding new ways to turn our backs on those fleeing the terrorism of ISIS and brutality of the Assad regime in Syria, let’s work together to address real vulnerabilities, combat homegrown terrorism, and improve security here at home.”
The Visa Waiver Program has already been used by terrorists, including a 9/11 co-conspirator, to enter America. Congresswoman Duckworth has been a fierce advocate for protecting our national security interests and homeland from terrorism in a way that doesn’t undermine or compromise the values that make our country great. Earlier this month, the bipartisan Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act that Duckworth championed as a cosponsorpassed the House. The legislation will strengthen security measures in the Visa Waiver Program, an important tourism program that helps grow the American economy, create jobs and is supported by President Obama and Congressional Republicans alike because it closes serious security gaps that terrorists could exploit to enter our nation.
The Congresswoman is also leading legislation with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)to close a loophole in federal law that enables foreign nationals visiting the United States under the Visa Waiver Program—which terrorists including a 9/11 co-conspirator already have done—to legally purchase and possess firearms. Last month, Congresswoman Duckworth also authored an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune outlining her position that rejecting all Syrian refugees who are fleeing ISIL will ultimately endanger our national security.
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