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CAIR Action Alert: Tell Congress to Stop Singling Out Travelers From Muslim Majority Counties

CAIR logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/26/16) – The Council on American Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is calling on all Americans to contact their elected representatives in Congress to express serious objections to a series of discriminatory provisions within the VISA Act (H.R. 5203) that create new and intensive security requirements for immigrant and non-immigrants from a number of majority Muslim counties applying for visas to the U.S.

The act, which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee yesterday and has now been referred to the House for a vote, would also subject require all visa applicants and their American family petitioners to DNA tests. TAKE ACTION 

SEE: House Judiciary Committee Markup of H.R. 5203

Specifically, H.R.5203 would require the State Department to complete a separate Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) for all immigrant and non-immigrants applying for a visa to the U.S. who are nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, or any other country. SAOs are usually reserved for more intense investigations targeting individuals suspected of having personal links to espionage, terrorism, or illegally exporting technology out of the United States. “This law would force a British national visa applicant born to a Syrian father who possess dual citizenship to undergo an intensive and lengthy background check usually reserved for suspected terrorists,†said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw. “Once again, we see our government attempting to create a separate class of security screenings for Muslims traveling to America based on their religion and not on suspicion of any wrongdoing. This law will have an adverse impact on American Muslim families trying to connect with visiting relatives from overseas.â€Â  According to a 2004 U.S. Government Accountability Office report, SAOs create long delays in processing non-U.S. citizen visas and found that “students and scholars with science backgrounds might decide not to come to the United States, and technological advancements that serve U.S. and global interests could be jeopardized.”

SEE: 2004 GOA Report on Border Security: Improvements Needed to Reduce Time Taken to Adjudicate Visas for Science Students and Scholars  In December, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which barred nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria from being eligible to travel or be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Instead, such nationals would be required to go through the regular immigration process at U.S. embassies or consulates. SEE: Visa Waiver Program restrictions go into effectIf enacted, H.R. 5203 would create an additional security barrier singling out Muslims travelers to the United States.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171,

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