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Martha M.
Republican AZ 2

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  • Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015

    by Representative Martha McSally

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    McSALLY. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairwoman Miller for this thoughtful legislation. I rise today in support of H.R. 159.

    I was a proud member of the Committee on Homeland Security's task force on combatting terrorists and foreign fighter travel. The task force bipartisan report, which was a culmination of 6 months of investigative activities, contained many troubling findings related to the ease with which foreign fighters from Visa Waiver Program- participating countries could seek entry into the United States.

    Of the estimated 30,000 foreign fighters that we are aware of, at least 4,500 hold western passports. This is made even more alarming by the fact that 30 of the 38 Visa Waiver Programs are in Europe.

    I am pleased that this legislation that we are considering today takes [[Page H9058]] steps to address many of the task force's findings related to this program. The bill prohibits individuals that travel to Iraq and Syria from using the program. It requires termination of a participating country for failing to screen against INTERPOL's criminal and terrorism databases. It authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend participating countries when it is determined that they pose a high risk to the national security of the United States.

    ISIS has better resources and is more brutal and more organized than any terrorist organization to date. We must use all the tools at our disposal to defeat them. I am particularly pleased that this bill recognizes the need to continually update and secure the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, a key task force recommendation.

    As part of this effort, we must leverage new and innovative technologies. The bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to explore opportunities to incorporate technology into ESTA that will detect deception and fraud.

    A number of promising deception detection technologies have been developed, including one developed at the University of Arizona in my district. Deception can be difficult to detect when you are interviewing an individual face to face. It is even more difficult to detect the deception in online forums like ESTA uses.

    The technology developed at the University of Arizona called Neuro- Screen identifies typing, scrawling, and other computer-use patterns to capture motor nervous system signals associated with deceptive and suspicious behavior. We must leverage technology, such as Neuro-Screen, to enhance screening programs like ESTA.

    Mr. Speaker, we all want to ensure that people from around the world can travel here to experience all the wonders and the freedoms of the United States. As we welcome travelers here, we must do so in a way that keeps us safe.

    That is why I support H.R. 1158. I urge all our Members to support this thoughtful bipartisan legislation.

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