Judiciary chair alarmed by visa changes

Judiciary chair alarmed by visa changes

The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee is raising concerns with the Obama administration’s efforts to change the rules for interviewing foreigners seeking a visa to enter the United States.

The changes, which have been in the works for years, take an end run around the law and weaken national security, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Feinstein calls for hold on Kavanaugh consideration Grassley releases letter detailing Kavanaugh sexual assault allegation MORE (R-Iowa) bemoaned in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday.

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“This administration appears intent to circumvent the law and ignore the safeguards that Congress has put in place to prevent terrorists from arriving at our shores,” he wrote. 

In 2012, under then-Secretary Hillary Clinton, the State Department proposed easing up the rules to allow some foreigners who had been interviewed for a previous visa application to be exempt from going through a new interview. The move was designed to increase tourism and save time and federal money, the State Department said at the time.

In doing so, Clinton — who is now running for president — “exploited” what was supposed to be a narrow exemption, Grassley claimed on Wednesday. 

In November, the Obama administration issued a regulation outlining when the government could waive the requirement to interview a visa applicant. 

In recent weeks, scrutiny on the country’s visa processes has intensified, following attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

One of the alleged shooters in the San Bernardino shooting entered the U.S. under a fiancée visa. All of the gunmen involved in the November violence in Paris were believed to be European nationals, and could presumably have entered the U.S. without first obtaining a visa.