Letter on H.R. 5253, the "Strong Visa Integrity Secures America Act of 2016" | U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Letter on H.R. 5253, the "Strong Visa Integrity Secures America Act of 2016"

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - 4:00pm

The Honorable Michael McCaul
Chairman 
Committee on Homeland Security
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Bennie Thompson
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, DC 20515 

Dear Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Thompson:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the
interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state
and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and
defending America’s free enterprise system, supports H.R. 5253, the “Strong Visa Integrity
Secures America Act of 2016.”

The Chamber applauds the Committee for focusing on the important issue of national
security as it pertains to the visa granting process. The Chamber was pleased to see the inclusion
of commonsense measures in the bill, such as the provisions to ensure that U.S. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) officials scan electronic passports of individuals at U.S. airports when
they seek to enter the country, additional clarification on proper vetting procedures, and new
oversight requirements for DHS to provide more information to the public on visa overstays.

The Chamber was also pleased with the focus of the bill’s sponsors on potential risks to
the country. This approach is reflected throughout the bill, whether it concerns the placement of
Homeland Security personnel at diplomatic and consular posts around the world, performing visa
security assistance remotely, or the new requirements for CBP to conduct continuous screening
of individuals seeking to enter the U.S. Putting the focus on risks to our national security is the
proper approach for Congress to take. This proposal would provide the necessary parameters for
DHS to focus on its mission to secure the homeland, while providing the agency with the needed
flexibility to address threats to the U.S. as they arise.

Lastly, the Chamber appreciates the Committee’s approach to the issue of visa security
advisory opinions. The creation of the Visa Security Advisory Opinion Unit that would respond
to State Department requests strikes the right balance between the need for the government to
perform its due diligence in ensuring that security threats are kept out of the U.S. and allowing
the State Department and DHS to focus their time and effort on potential threats to the nation, as
opposed to requiring additional screening on individuals simply based upon their home country
or other arbitrary criteria. This approach would not only advance national security efforts, but it

would do so in a way that allows the executive branch agencies to make the best use of their
limited resources.

Thank you for your continued efforts to improve the federal government’s ability to
defend the nation from national security threats. The Chamber looks forward to working with the
members of the Committee on these issues.

Sincerely,

R. Bruce Josten

cc: Members of the Committee on Homeland Security