January 21, 2016

Support the Equal Protection in Travel Act (H.R. 4380/S. 2449)

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Amendments to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that were signed into law as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of FY2016 include a provision restricting travel to the U.S. under the program if they are dual nationals of VWP countries and Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan. This provision is creating serious unintended consequences for U.S. interests and threatens to infringe on the rights of American citizens. The Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016 (H.R. 4380 / S. 2449) would repeal the dual-nationals restrictions.

VWP restrictions on dual nationals discriminate on the basis of family heritage

  • Because Iran, Iraq and Sudan pass citizenship automatically through the father, individuals will be restricted from the VWP based on their family heritage and not on any decision they have made.
  • 75 civil rights organizations, 5 Senators and 33 Representatives have so far signed letters objecting to VWP restrictions on dual nationals.

The discriminatory restrictions do not make America safer

  • The dual-nationals restrictions automatically punish individuals who have never even set foot in Syria, Iraq, or other territories where ISIS operates.
  • These restrictions would not have applied to the San Bernardino attackers, who were an American and a Pakistani national who studied in Saudi Arabia; nor to the 9/11 hijackers, who were fifteen Saudi nationals, two UAE nationals, and one Egyptian national.
  • The restrictions have already applied to Rana Rahimpour, a BBC reporter in the UK who was recently barred from entering the U.S. with her daughter due to the new VWP restrictions. Ironically, she has been unable to travel to Iran since 2009 due to fears of political repression there.

The restrictions could turn some Americans into second class citizens and undermine U.S. economic interests

  • The VWP operates on the basis of reciprocity; VWP countries may target American dual nationals through reciprocal restrictions.
  • The EU is planning to review its implementation of the VWP in April, and has warned that it will factor in any unilateral restrictions imposed by the United States.
  • The dual-national restrictions will negatively impact business by forcing many clients, investors and employees to apply for a visa prior to business-related travel to the U.S.

The Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016 is a bipartisan fix

  • The Equal Protection of Travel Act repeals the provision restricting dual nationals.
    House sponsors: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), John Conyers, Jr., (D-MI) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI).
  • Senate sponsors: Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
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