Most Americans don’t know what a visa really is, or why it matters. But when you hear Obama ranting about visas, immigration, and the like, it’s nice to know exactly why the words he says send chills down my spine.
In essence, this is a program that allows people visiting the U.S. from 38 different countries to get in strictly using their passports, and not requiring them to obtain a visa from a U.S. consulate.
United States naively relies solely on the countries of origin to do the vetting, and often they have no idea who these people even are.
Let’s look at the problem with just that issue, shall we?
If I am a corrupt, 3rd world country with a bunch of people that aren’t probably going to amount to much in society looking to leave, you can bet your bottom dollar that those people are ‘vetted’ with a rubber stamp and pushed on over, because they’re going to be America’s problem now.
It was originally put in place to eliminate some of the hassle for people coming here to do business, but it’s quickly become an easy loophole for terrorists to slip through – especially because what little vetting the U.S. is supposed to be doing in the program, the U.S. is not doing:
But the program has two serious security gaps. The first is that the U.S. has become wholly dependent upon the competence and thoroughness of the countries that participate. Visitors’ eligibility for entry under the Visa Waiver Program is determined by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. But a 2012 audit by the Government Accountability Office found that roughly 364,000 people reached the U.S. in 2010 “without verified ESTA approval.” This security gap, long ignored, has now become enormously important.
Over the past two years, thousands of European citizens have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS, and these killers are returning to Europe. Because they travel through covert channels, evading passport controls, in many cases European security agencies don’t know who went where. These men and women can travel freely under the European Union’s Schengen Agreement, which has done away with border controls among 26 European countries.
Getting into the Middle East from Europe—and back again to Europe—without being monitored by a European security agency has never been easier. And if these agencies don’t know, we don’t know. ISIS today is likely working hard to identify a group of Europeans who can reach America with only a perfunctory security check to launch an attack. That cannot be allowed to happen.
The second problem with the Visa Waiver Program is the ease with which Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe seem able to assume new identities. Press reports suggest that ISIS can produce forged documents, such as Syrian passports and driver’s licenses. We also know that refugees are discarding legitimate documents that would help identify who they really are and where they come from. After Paris, processing these refugees takes on new significance. Asking a terrorist if he has been to a certain country, such as Syria, is a mirage security measure.
One of the greatest security vulnerabilities is a “clean skin”—a real passport obtained using forged paperwork. Once a legitimate passport is procured, it is extremely difficult to discover who the holder really is. With the wave of refugees overwhelming European countries, which are struggling to process them and give them Western identification, the possibility of clean skins being granted is at an all-time high.
This is why folks like the killers at the San Bernardino massacre could leave and return undetected. It shows other radicalized groups or even basic criminals how to slip in and out without raising any flags. The US has gotten lazy with our own intelligence, passing off the job to the country of origin, which obviously has no vested interest in the United States. Maybe the CIA needs to invest some time with Homeland Security and really investigate these folks.
You can read about the DHS Visa program here.
Everyone should continue freaking out over Donald Trump proposing that we put a halt on Muslims coming into the U.S. and ignoring that we have an actual
loophole PROBLEM with actual policy that is an epic FAIL at keeping terrorists out. We let them walk in without any real screening and put zero effort into it. That, America, is how you shoot yourself in the foot.
About Katie McGuire
Political Junkie. Mom, Writer, Blogger. Owner of kids and corgis.