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Legislation wouldn’t allow court review of visa revocations

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives on May 5 would end the judicial review of visas revoked for security reasons from aliens in the U.S., speeding the way for their deportation.

The legislation, H.R. 1741, or the Secure Visas Act, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is aimed at helping prevent terrorists from getting U.S. visas and allowing U.S. officials to expedite the removal of terrorists who are already in the United States on a visa, said Smith.

Smith introduced similar legislation in 2010 after Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged terrorist, attempted to blow up a plane en route to Detroit on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab had a valid visa at the time of the attempted terror attack, issued in July 2008. He kept his visa even after his father expressed concerns to U.S. authorities about his son’s radicalization, said Smith.

Smith also pointed to Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 20-year-old citizen of Saudi Arabia who was in the U.S. on a student visa, and was charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The bill would end the judicial review process for visas revoked from individuals in U.S.. The legislation matches up with how visa applications are handled in U.S. consular offices overseas. Currently, U.S. consular officers outside the U.S. can deny visa applications with no judicial review.

The legislation would also mandate the Department of Homeland Security’ s Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maintain Visa Security Units in 19 high-risk countries and expand them to “highest risk” countries, including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon, and Algeria.

Cosponsors include Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Steve King (R-IA), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Dennis Ross (R-FL).

Smith said the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, May 11 at 1.30 pm.   

“VSUs are critical for national security: at VSU-staffed consular posts, 100% of applicants receive additional screening; at non-VSU posts, fewer than 2% of applications get extra screening,” said Smith.

“Visa security is critical to America’s national security,” he said. “We know terrorists use loopholes and weaknesses in our immigration system to enter the U.S.  In fact, all of the 9-11 terrorists entered the U.S. legally on visas.  And terrorists will continue coming to the U.S. legally if we do not improve and tighten our visa security process,” he said.

“The Secure Visas Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to expand the number of visa security units overseas to areas designated as ‘highest-risk’ for terror threats.  Visa security units ensure that thorough background checks are conducted on all visa applicants, not just a select few,” he added.


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