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The plan to apply a visa waiver program to the U.S is being attacked from many sides.
Recently, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged the concerns that terrorists might use the visa waiver program to enter the United States, and said his department is taking steps to address weaknesses in the program.
Johnson told an aviation industry luncheon that he doesn’t want to discard the program, which makes it easier for Americans to travel to friendly countries and for citizens of those countries to travel to the U.S. “It represents an important element of lawful commerce between and among our international partners,” he said.
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According to Stars and Stripes, he noted that some of those countries also have citizens or legal residents who have left to fight or train with terrorist groups in the Middle East, Asia or Africa, then returned home intent on violence. For example, some citizens or residents of France and Germany have traveled to the Middle East to fight or train with al-Qaida or Islamic State militants. The concern is that those fighters will return to their home countries and from there travel to the U.S.
Back in November, the department added new information fields to the electronic system for travel authorization, Johnson said. He said he has also asked his staff to tighten the security assurances the U.S. has with countries that participate in the waiver program.