Are Airports the Weak Link?

Counter-terrorism is once again in the spotlight since the Paris and San Bernardino attack. With growing diversity not only of ethnicity but also of religion and value systems within Europe, the wisdom of visa waivers is rightly under the spotlight. Here’s my American Enterprise Institute colleague Matt Mayer in the Wall Street Journal for example:

The Visa Waiver Program allows as many as 20 million citizens from 38 countries — including Japan, Australia and much of Europe — to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without the extra layers of security attached to their procuring a visa at a U.S. consulate… But the program has two serious security gaps. The first is that the U.S. has become wholly dependent upon the competence and thoroughness of the countries that participate. Visitors’ eligibility for entry under the Visa Waiver Program is determined by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. But a 2012 audit by the Government Accountability Office found that roughly 364,000 people reached the U.S. in 2010 “without verified ESTA approval…” The second problem with the Visa Waiver Program is the ease with which Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe seem able to assume new identities. Press reports suggest that ISIS can produce forged documents, such as Syrian passports and driver’s licenses. We also know that refugees are discarding legitimate documents that would help identify who they really are and where they come from.

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Are Airports the Weak Link?

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