Bush Seeks to Ease Visa Requirement

President Bush announced he will work to ease visa requirements for visitors from certain countries:

President Bush said yesterday he will push Congress for a “loosening” of requirements for foreigners to visit the United States without a visa, pitting him against those who have called for the program instead to be tightened or even scrapped altogether after September 11.

The Visa Waiver Program allows visitors with valid passports from 27 approved countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. That makes tourism and business travel easier by eliminating the need for a visa, though such travelers can avoid a security screening.

I think this is a good idea, as long as it is instated logically. I’ll say what many others are afraid to: the citizens of certain countries are more likely to threaten America than others. Saudis shouldn’t be exempt from visas, of course. But your average Brit, Czech, Brazilian, (South) Korean, or Australian with no criminal record or ties to terrorists? I don’t see why not.

Yes, I realize that the possibility exists that someone might slip through the cracks, but shutting ourselves off is not worth it. Besides, if someone wants to get into the U.S., all they need to do is fly to Canada and take a short hike. Requiring everyone to obtain a visa might make us feel better, but it won’t make us much safer.

UPDATE: Here are the 27 countries currently participating in the program. None seem particularly ominous:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

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