PAAIA Sends Letter to President Obama Voicing Concerns About Provisions of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act

December 14, 2015, Washington, D.C. – Today, PAAIA sent a letter to President Barack Obama, expressing concerns over the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R. 158).  The letter commends efforts that increase the security of the Visa Waiver Program in order to protect America’s national security, but it also notes some negative impacts the bill could have on the Iranian American community.  PAAIA explains that the act is discriminatory because it excludes dual nationals from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria, and anyone who has travelled there in the past five years.

“It will thus lead to discrimination against Americans based on national origin in that a U.S. passport held by an American of Iranian decent is treated differently than a US passport held by an American of other national origins,” the letter reads.

PAAIA asserts that Iranian Americans are unnecessarily discriminated against in this bill, citing the facts that Iranian Americans are required to have dual citizenship if they wish to visit loved ones in Iran, there is no evidence that any Iranian American has travelled to Iran and become radicalized, and the Islamic State (or ISIS) is a sworn enemy of all Iranians.  Furthermore, the letter points to the damages these restrictions on Iranian Americans could have on US foreign policy, undermining US-Iran rapprochement and inhibiting social and economic reform in Iran.  One part of the bill even can be construed as a violation of the JCPOA, as European business travelers to Iran will also be excluded from the program. 

PAAIA reminds the President of the contributions that Iranian Americans make to this society—from aiding victims in the recent San Bernardino shooting to serving in the US military and law enforcement.  The organization thanks the President for his support of the Iranian American community and hopes that he will stand up against the discriminatory practices enforced in this bill.

Click here to view the letter.

The letter was prepared by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americansa nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, independent organization that represents the interests of the Iranian American community before U.S. policymakers, opinion-makers, and the American public at large. 


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