Shimkus Cosponsors Visa Waiver Program Legislation

Contact: Steven Tomaszewski
March 19, 2007
618/344-3065; 618/322-9246

Washington, DC.....Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19) is joining as the lead Republican sponsor of Visa Waiver Program legislation introduced by Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D, Illinois-5). The Visa Waiver Modernization Act of 2007 (HR 1543) is similar to Senator Voinovich's amendment that has already passed the Senate.

"This legislation would update the Visa Waiver Program by combining travel security enhancements with the flexibility to add countries that meet our security and immigration standards," Shimkus explained.

Currently, 27 countries participate in the programs, which allows citizens of these select nations to enter the United States for business or tourism for 90 days without a visa. Many of our allies would also like to participate in this program.

This legislation would require both existing and new participants to: + Implement enhanced travel requirement to establish common security standards. + Implement policies to limit illegal entry and impede travel by terrorists and transnational criminals. + Strengthen passenger screening procedures.

"Our language also requires the monitoring of Visa Waiver Program participants when they leave the country and improves ways to measure overstays," Shimkus said. "We have also included many other safeguards.

"Expanding the Visa Waiver Program is really a way of both increasing national security through improvements to this program and expanding it to our friends and allies who support our efforts in the war on terror," Shimkus added.

Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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