House Bill Would Tighten Requirements for Visa Waiver Program
A proposed House bill seeks to strengthen requirements under the visa waiver program in place for nationals from certain countries. The Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R. 158), originally introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), aims to tighten requirements under the visa waiver program allowing citizens of 38 countries to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. Participating countries must meet certain other requirements, including intelligence–sharing, to remain eligible. Rep. Miller’s bill would expand the criteria by which a country may be removed from the program, including for not meeting these information-sharing requirements, and would increase the databases used to perform background checks on individuals entering the U.S. visa-free.
During this week’s House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing, Rep. Miller said she hopes her bill will marked up in committee and considered by the full House of Representatives “shortly.”
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, March 24: The House Homeland Security Committee will host a hearing titled “A Global Battleground: The Fight Against Islamist Extremism at Home and Abroad.”
- Tuesday, March 24: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will host a hearing titled “Securing the Border: Assessing the Impact of Transnational Crime.”
- Tuesday, March 24: The House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Homeland Security will host a hearing on proposed FY appropriations with Adm. Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Wednesday, March 25: The House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Transportation Security will host a hearing titled “Risk-Based Security: Assessing the Path Forward for TSA Pre✓™.”
- Wednesday, March 25: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will host a hearing titled “Securing the Border: Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Central American Migration to the United States.”
- Thursday, March 26: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will host a hearing titled “Securing the Border: Defining the Current Population Living in the Shadows and Addressing Future Flows.”
- Thursday, March 26: The House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Homeland Security will host a hearing on proposed FY appropriations with Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Executive Branch Activity
Federal Judge Asked to Consider Sanctions in Ongoing Immigration Litigation
This week, U.S. government and Texas attorneys squared off in ongoing litigation challenging the President’s proposed actions on immigration. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen originally issued an injunction blocking implementation of the executive actions at issue in February in a case brought by 26 states.
Federal attorneys originally told Judge Hanen that the President’s executive actions on immigration would not go into effect until February 18. In a later filing, the government disclosed that it had deferred deportation and granted work permits for 100,000 immigrants under 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program before Judge Hanen’s injunction – while the program is not new, the President’s November 2014 announcement expanded the number of people eligible to apply for deferrals under the program and extended the duration from two years to three years.
During a hearing in Texas this week, Judge Hanen chided the government for making its original statements, while federal attorneys apologized for any confusion about the reprieves and work permits. The government also claimed that the deferrals at issue were granted under the original, not expanded, guidelines – though Judge Hanen pointed out that they were granted for the new three-year duration. Judge Hanen is considering a request by the states for sanctions against the federal government as a result of the previous representations. The federal government has asked U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to lift Judge Hanen’s injunction blocking implementation of the program.