Paul moves to block visas for Syrian refugees

Paul moves to block visas for Syrian refugees
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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment MORE (R-Ky.) is introducing legislation to block visas for travelers from "countries with a high risk of terrorism" following last Friday night’s terrorists attacks in Paris.

Paul, who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination, said visas should be suspended for travelers from countries such as Syria after Friday night’s attack in Paris, where a series of coordinated strikes killed 129 people across the French capital.

The GOP presidential hopeful's legislation would also impose a waiting period on visa processing for travelers from other countries. 


"The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door," he said in a statement. “The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks. 

"The terrorist attacks in Paris underscore this concern that I have been working to address for the past several years," Paul continued. "My bill will press pause on new refugee entrants from high-risk countries until stringent new screening procedures are in place." 

Travel groups slammed the proposal from Paul to place limits on visa processing in the wake of the Paris terrorists attacks. 

"In the aftermath of 9/11, America and its leaders chose freedom over fear, which enabled our nation's recovery on multiple levels. That was the proper instinct then and it remains so now," U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow said in a statement.

"Sen. Paul is suggesting a discredited 1930's approach—sweeping isolationism—to a decidedly 21st-century problem," Dow continued. "The world is a complex and connected‎ place, which means that we best find ways to use technology and our alliances to secure our homeland and reject a 'hide under the covers' strategy for problem-solving. 

"Tempting though it sometimes may be, we can't simply shut ourselves off from the world," he said. "If we do, shame on us, because then we're giving the enemy precisely what they want—terror, resignation, our prosperity and our very way of life." 

Travel groups have been pushing to expand the State Department’s Visa Waiver Program, which currently allows tourists from 38 nations to visit the U.S. without obtaining a visa, despite fears about potential terrorist attacks that were raised even before the Paris attacks last week. Syria is not one of the countries that is currently on the list for expedited visas. 

Dow said his association's support of expanding the visa waiver program has not been dampened by the latest attacks in Paris.

"The Visa Waiver Program is an effective, essential security tool that we cannot afford to relinquish, especially when it played zero role in the Paris attacks," he said. "Let's address the security problems we have, rather than creating new ones."