Angus King: Visa waivers bigger danger than refugees

Angus King: Visa waivers bigger danger than refugees
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Angus King: Visa waivers bigger danger than refugees 03:22

Story highlights

  • A proposal to limit waivers is picking up support in Congress
  • Waivers are more of a problem than Syrian refugees, Sen. King says

Washington (CNN)A bipartisan proposal to limit the visa waiver program that allows citizens of some European countries, including France, to visit the U.S. without first applying for a visa is gaining steam on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said Thursday he believes the proposal "really does make a lot of sense" and would do more to protect the U.S. than preventing Syrian refugees from seeking asylum, as many Republicans are now suggesting.
"Frankly, (the visa waiver program is) a greater vulnerability than the issue of the Syrian refugees who have to go through an 18-month to two-year vetting process. Very few get through it, most of them are women and children and elderly people. So let's focus our attention where the greatest threat is," King told Alisyn Camerota on CNN's "New Day."
    Applicants seeking visas to enter the U.S. must first undergo a background check before being cleared for entry. But certain countries like France have agreements with the U.S. allowing their citizens to freely travel to America with a passport, but no visa.
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, said Wednesday that they plan to introduce a bill that would limit the visa waiver program.
    That idea came after revelations this week that most of the assailants involved in the Paris attacks were European nationals, raising concerns in Washington that the waiver program could present a security vulnerability.
    King, who received an intelligence briefing on Wednesday, said there is "no specific actionable intelligence" of a terrorist plot that would strike inside the U.S., though ISIS released a propaganda video on Wednesday warning of an attack.
    King also noted that most of the Paris attackers were on a U.S. terror watch list "in some way, shape or form."