In a 407-19 vote backed by the White House, the House of Representatives today passed a bill aiming to restrict visa-free travel to the United States for anyone who has been to Iraq or Syria in the last five years.
The visa-waiver program covers 38 countries from which travelers can come to the United States for visits of 90 days or less without having a visa, so long as they have a passport and a round trip ticket.
In addition to restrictions on visitors who have been to Iraq or Syria, the House bill also allows the government to suspend nations from the program entirely if they refused to provide the US with any demanded “terrorism-related information.”
House leaders say this is likely just the first of a series of bills aimed at increasing restrictions on entry into the US. Rep. Candice Miller (R – MI) justified the effort claiming that the “enemies of freedom” want to get into the US to “use our freedoms against us.”
One of only a handful of opponents to the bill, Rep. Keith Ellison (D – MN) complained the focus should be on terrorists, not nation of origin, adding that the bill was overbroad and should include exceptions for journalists and researchers who’ve been to Iraq or Syria.