House Bill Threatens to Restrict Iranian-American Travel to Europe

Contact: Jamal Abdi

Washington, DC – NIAC Action released the following statement regarding H.R.158, legislation that would revise the Visa Waiver Program which is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, December 8:

“This is an outrageous bill that threatens to block Iranian Americans from traveling to Europe under the Visa Waiver Program. It risks creating a separate class of American citizen . An American passport is an American passport regardless of the ethnicity or national origin of the person holding it.
“H.R.158 would prevent Iranian dual-nationals living abroad, as well as foreign nationals who have visited Iran since March 2011, from traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program without a visa. 
“Given that the Visa Waiver Program is reciprocal, participating countries can respond by blocking Iranian-American travelers from traveling without a visa. Since Iran considers any children whose fathers are Iranian nationals to also be Iranian nationals, a wide swath of the Iranian diaspora may be targeted by this legislation.
“This is a dangerous, slippery slope. The bill undermines American values and threatens to codify discrimination against Iranian Americans, as well as Arab and Sudanese Americans.
“In the face of terrorism, Americans must stand united – not divided based on their national background. In the horrific attacks in San Bernardino, one of the victims was an Iranian American woman who came to the U.S. to escape religious persecution. The very first first-responder on the scene was an Iranian American swat-team medic who had fought in the Iran-Iraq war. Meanwhile, the Iranian people are one of the most pro-American groups in the region – Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims of the September 11 attacks, and recently again for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“At a time when the United States should be working to build bridges with the Iranian people, who have added so much to the fabric of American life, Congress appears intent on tearing those bridges down. It is time for our legislators to take a stand against fear-mongering and block this discriminatory bill.”

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