January 27, 2016, New York, NY – On February 5, 2016, New York City Councilmember I. Daneek Miller introduced a resolution calling on U.S. Congress to pass and the President to sign the “Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016”, which would protect Iranian Americans and other dual nationals from the Visa Waiver Program reforms passed late last year.
“We cannot allow for discriminatory practices to govern our immigration and security policies,” said Councilmember Miller in a press release. “It is an outrage that new federal provisions could create a second class tier of United States nationals. I am proud today to sponsor this resolution and support federal legislation that will serve to promote the security of our nation and end the practice of visa discrimination based on nationality.”
The Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016 is sponsored by Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate and Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI), John Conyers (D-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) in the House. The legislation was introduced on January 13, 2016 to address growing concerns that the dual national clause included in the Visa Waiver Program reforms unfairly targeted citizens of the Visa Waiver Program participating countries based on their national origin.
“This bill will help correct the most serious problem with a bill that was rushed through the House in the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Paris,” explained Senator Durbin in a press release. “The Visa Waiver Program should be reformed, but singling people out because of their national origin is fundamentally at odds with American values and invites discrimination against American citizens who are dual nationals. Our focus should be on people with possible links to terrorism, regardless of their nationality.”
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans commends Councilmember Miller for his support of the Equal Protection Travel Act of 2016. His resolution highlights efforts that PAAIA has made to educate lawmakers and the public at large on the adverse impact certain provisions of the reforms passed into law would have on the Iranian American community without making America safer.
PAAIA is working to encourage members of Congress to co-sponsor and pass the Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016.