Tester demands details on Visa Waiver Program from Homeland Security officials

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today continued his push to strengthen national security by demanding additional details from high-ranking Department of Homeland Security and State Department officials on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

During a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Tester questioned the Homeland Security Deputy Assistant Secretary on the timeline of the VWP’s screening process and asked her to identify the specific constraints that keep nations from sharing critical data with one another regarding the prior travel of individuals visiting the U.S. under the VWP.

“We must crack down on terrorists entering our country,” Tester said after the hearing. “The safety and security of the American people is my top priority, and loopholes in the Visa Waiver Program are completely unacceptable. The Visa Waiver Program is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Last week Tester introduced bipartisan legislation that requires additional layers of security, like more rigorous background checks on foreign travelers from countries participating in the VWP who have visited Syria or Iraq before they are allowed to enter the United States.

Currently, citizens from the 38 countries participating in the VWP can travel to the United States as a temporary visitor with less oversight, regardless of their recent travel history.

In addition to cracking down on the VWP, Tester is currently pushing three other specific proposals to strengthen national security:
• Prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns by giving law enforcement the tools they need to deny the sale of guns to individuals on the terrorist watch list.
• Strengthen the northern and southern borders and increase interoperability between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to prevent individuals from entering the country illegally and fully fund Operation Stonegarden grants that support local and state law enforcement
• Prohibit untrustworthy individuals from accessing America’s most sensitive national security information and locations by intensifying the security clearance background check process and barring federal contractors and employees who have compromised the integrity of a background investigation from performing security clearance investigations in the future.