Watchdog: Countries in visa-free travel program not sharing terror info

June 16, 2016

More than a dozen countries participating in a program that allows visitors into the U.S. without a visa are not sharing terrorists’ identities and other vital information as required by law, according to a watchdog report raising concerns on Capitol Hill about yet another major security gap.

“This is very dangerous because for the most part, these are allies, some of which have pockets of Islamic radicalism,” Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., chairman of the House national security subcommittee, told

The Visa Waiver Program lets business travelers and tourists with passports from 38 countries fill out a basic online form to enter the U.S. The biographical questionnaire can be filled out at the airport.

Last year, Congress tightened measures requiring those countries to supply identities of suspected terrorists and the criminal history of those wishing to enter the U.S. Theoretically, the information is then heaved into law enforcement databases to be checked when travelers apply for a visa or waiver.

Yet the Government Accountability Office found “more than a third of VWP countries are not sharing terrorist identity information” or criminal history. The report says: “While VWP countries may share information through other means, U.S. agency officials told GAO that information sharing through the agreements is essential for national security.”

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