The Obama administration is “blatantly breaking the law” with its implementation of the new Visa waiver program, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) argue. The terror attacks in Paris urged lawmakers to launch a bipartisan effort to strengthen the program. McCaul and Miller, along with other members of Congress, asked the White House to consider a national security and law enforcement waiver only for certain individuals intending to enter the country. They made this clear in their proposed Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which passed 409 to 21. Instead, the administration circumvented Congress to implement a much broader program.
“The Obama Administration is blatantly breaking the law, a law the President himself signed. All waivers announced by the White House were explicitly rejected by Congress during our negotiations with the Administration. This is not a difference of opinion over statutory interpretation, it is a clear contradiction of the law and the agreement we reached with the White House. President Obama is again putting his relationship with Iran’s supreme leader over the security of Americans. He cannot rewrite the law to appease foreign governments—he should instead pay attention to his own. The will of Congress was clear with this legislation, yet now the executive branch is blatantly planning to violate it. We will respond and are reviewing our options.”
Congress is especially frustrated about the exemptions offered to individuals who have traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran and Sudan for government, humanitarian or journalistic purposes. These waivers from security requirements, McCaul said, were absolutely rejected during negotiations.
In December, Miller penned a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, reminding the officials that Congress “did not allow” for the program to waive the travel prohibition for an entire class of individuals.
Now that the Obama administration has dutifully ignored Congress’s wishes, all we can do is wait to see what this means for our national security.