This bill would enhance security screenings for prospective refugees before they can be admitted into the U.S. The bill also suspends the approval of visas from "high-risk" countries. Enhanced screenings would include things like:
- Registration requirements;
- A Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) background check;
- DHS monitoring searching for indications of terrorist activities.
New visa applications could not be approved for at least 30 days to allow time for enhanced security screenings. Applicants from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program would also be subject to enhanced screenings. The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a special visa. Designated ‘trusted travelers’ under the Global Entry program would be exempt from the delays, but only after meeting certain criteria.
34 countries would be designated as "high-risk" under this bill. Refugee admissions would be suspended from these countries, including: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Consideration of visa applications from these countries could resume once the DHS submits a screening effectiveness report 25 days after this bill’s enactment. That report would have to certify to Congress that the screening process has been improved. Congress would then have to enact a law reinstating application approval for candidates from those countries.
Visa applications from high-risk countries would be blocked until DHS, the Dept. of State, and the Director of National Intelligence can unanimously certify that:
A national security screening process has been created for applicants from high-risk countries requiring a 30-day assessment;
A biometric entry-exit control system has been fully implemented;
The necessary steps have been taken to prevent national security vulnerabilities from people overstaying a temporary legal status;
A policy has been implemented to remove those who have overstayed the authorized period of time they could stay in the country.
DHS would be have to integrate data from its automated entry-exit system into a database that could be cross-referenced to look up the records and lawful immigration status of any given traveler to the U.S. Records include any illegal entry into the country, visa status, fraudulent travel documents, instances of identity misrepresentation, and other methods of entry into the country used by the traveler.
DHS could question and verify the travel documents of any U.S. citizen in the outgoing lane of port of entry on the U.S. border. This bill also outlines provisions to ensure that refugees, asylees, and other non-citizens with visas do not vote in federal elections while in the U.S. Anyone who illegally registers to vote or votes in a federal election would no longer be eligible for permanent residence or citizenship. They could also be subject to deportation.
Refugees and asylees would be prohibited from receiving federal benefits like Medicaid or Social Security. If any non-citizen with a visa secures these benefits, they would be ineligible for permanent residence or citizenship.