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Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

(New York, NY) – New York City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D – Queens) today introduced a resolution calling on the federal government to end the dual national visa ban authorized by the omnibus spending bill enacted in December 2015.

Provisions of the $1.8 trillion omnibus bill included prohibiting the use of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, who might otherwise be eligible for the program through their other national affiliation.

The VWP currently allows citizens of 38 participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less for tourism or business purposes. Among these countries are nearly all states in Western, Northern and Southern Europe, in addition to others such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Chile.

Under the recently enacted omnibus bill nationals of these participating countries, due to their dual Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, or Sudanese nationality, will be prohibited from entering the United States through the VWP. Due to the reciprocal nature of the VWP, this prohibition may trigger similar actions from participating countries towards Americans of Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian or Sudanese nationalities.

As such, Council Member Miller has introduced Resolution 982, “calling on the United States Congress to pass and the President to sign H.R. 4380/S.2449 or ‘The Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016’”, which would remove limitations on the ability of dual citizens to participate in the VWP.

This piece of federal legislation is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Republicans including Senator Jeff Flake, Representative Justin Amash, and Representative Thomas Massie, along with Democrats including Senator Richard Durbin, Senator Cory Booker, Representative John Conyers, Jr., and Representative Debbie Dingell.

“We cannot allow for discriminatory practices to govern our immigration and security policies,” said Council Member Miller. “It is an outrage that new federal provisions could create a second class tier of United States nationals. I am proud today to sponsor this resolution and support federal legislation that will serve to promote the security of our nation and end the practice of visa discrimination based on nationality.”

The full text of the resolution may be found below:

Res. No. 982

 

Resolution calling on the United States Congress to pass and the President to sign H.R. 4380/S.2449 or “The Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016”, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to remove limitations on the ability of certain dual citizens from participating in the Visa Waiver Program

 

By Council Member Miller

                     Whereas, The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 38 participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less for tourism or business purposes when they meet specific requirements; and

                     Whereas, The program mandates travelers to: (i) hold a machine-readable passport containing biometric data; (ii) possess a valid onward ticket from an approved carrier; and (iii) undergo the same comprehensive background checks under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) that is required of visa applicants; and

                     Whereas, According to the European Union’s Ambassador to the United States, David O’Sullivan, the Visa Waiver Program makes travel to the United States both easier and safer; and

                     Whereas, In light of recent terrorists attacks in San Bernardino, California and Paris, the U.S House of Representatives passed and signed into law H.R.2029, restricting the use of the Visa Waiver Program; and

                     Whereas, Specifically, H.R. 2029 restricts the use of the Visa Waiver Program for persons who: (i) are present in Iraq, Syria, or any other country or area of concern; (ii) have been present, at any time, on or after March 1, 2011 in Iraq or Syria; and (iii) are dual citizens of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program and Iraq or Syria; and

                     Whereas, To require citizens of any country to be excluded from the program simply because they or their parents were born in or have visited a particular country constitutes blatant discrimination; and

                     Whereas, Such provisions of H.R. 2029 are designed pursuant to political motives rather than to promote safety; and

                     Whereas, These discriminatory provisions have raised many concerns, including that they would affect legitimate travel by businesspersons, journalists, humanitarians, or medical workers while doing little to detect those who may pose an international threat; and

                     Whereas, According to the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, due to the reciprocal nature of the Visa Waiver Program, Europe and other countries may respond with similar restrictions for American travelers; and

                     Whereas, Full implementation of H.R. 2029 would subject persons, including those who reside in the City of New York, who have traveled to or are citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Sudan to discriminatory practices; and

                     Whereas, H.R. 4380/S.2449 or the “Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016”, recently introduced in the United States House of Representatives, would repeal the discriminatory changes to the Visa Waiver Program; and

                     Whereas, H.R. 4380/S.2449 is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Republicans including Senator Jeff Flake, Representative Justin Amash, and Representative Thomas Massie, along with Democrats including Senator Richard Durbin, Senator Cory Booker, Representative John Conyers, Jr., and Representative Debbie Dingell; and

                     Whereas, H.R. 4380/S.2449 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to remove limitations on the ability of certain dual citizens from participating in the Visa Waiver Program; and

                     Whereas, In the words of Senator Cory Booker, “The overly broad changes made to the Visa Waiver Program in December’s funding bill jeopardized U.S relations with key allies, send the wrong message to those fleeing the violence in the Middle East, and do not make America safer. This legislation will ensure the security of the Visa Waiver Program without unfairly targeting innocent people”; now, therefore, be it

                     Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls on the United States Congress to pass and the President to sign H.R. 4380/S.2449 or “The Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016”, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to remove limitations on the ability of certain dual citizens from participating in the Visa Waiver Program.

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