Tech, Business Executives Petition Congress to Undo New Restrictions on Visa-Free Travel
This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.
Almost three dozen technology and business executives petitioned the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to repeal new visa provisions restricting visa-free travel to the United States for certain travelers under the Visa Waiver Program. The petitioners say the new rules are discriminatory and bad for the U.S. economy.
Signatories to the petition include Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Theatres; Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square; Omid Kordestani, Chairman of Twitter and former Chief Business Officer of Google; Max Levchin, Co-Founder of Paypal; Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest; and others.
The petition notes that until now, citizens of the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, and others (38 countries in total) enjoyed a reciprocal arrangement to travel visa-free. The new law ends this right for travelers to the U.S. “based on discriminatory criteria,” the signatories note. They argue that this “invites reciprocal measures restricting U.S. citizens traveling to Europe and the other countries, potentially weakening the power of the U.S. passport for millions of U.S. citizens.”
In addition, they say that “discriminating based on national heritage is inconsistent with American values. In effect, certain provisions of the new law require visas for Europeans and other citizens with Iranian, Sudanese, Syrian, or Iraqi heritage.” The signatories likened this to Congress mandating “special travel papers for citizens based on their faith or the color of their skin.” In the balancing act between fighting terrorism and upholding American liberties, they say, “these provisions go too far.”
The signatories also said they believe the new restrictions harm U.S. business interests. “Millions of European, Japanese, and Korean citizens travel as employees, customers, and suppliers of American firms. Requiring many of them to get visas imposes bureaucratic delays on U.S. firms. This reduces the agility and liberty of U.S. firms, makes us less competitive in the global economy, and will ultimately cost jobs,” they warned.
The petition states that the signatories support the bipartisan Equal Protection in Travel Act (H.R.4380/S.2449). “We encourage Congress to enhance security via technology leadership and international cooperation without creating barriers that isolate us from our global partners,” they said.
The petition, which has 1,320 supporters so far, is at https://www.change.org/p/u-s-congress-repeal-discriminatory-travel-restrictions-equaltravel.