Posted on May 16, 2015 in Arab American Institute
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) authorizes the Attorney General and Secretary of State to allow temporary visitors from certain countries to come to the United States without nonimmigrant visas. Central to the Visa Waiver Program is a provision that guarantees reciprocal travel privileges for American citizens seeking to visit that country.
Currently, there is both a congressional and joint Department of Homeland Security and Department of State efforts to admit Israel into the Visa Waiver Program. In particular, three of the bills exemption language that exempts Israel from the waiver requirement by lessening the reciprocity requirement for Israel to be designated as a country in the “Visa Waiver Program”.
Given Israel’s long-held practice of detaining and denying entry to American citizens predominantly of Arab descent at the border – a practice acknowledged by the U.S. Department of State – this exemption will implicitly sanction the discriminatory treatment of U.S. citizens traveling to Israel and Palestine. We oppose this legislation given Israel’s recognized discriminatory practices against Arab Americans and advocates for Palestinian rights at its borders and checkpoints.
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