Sen. Chuck Schumer Proposes Taking Countries That Don’t Check Passports Off The U.S. Visa Waiver Program

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced a plan Sunday to block countries from the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if they don’t check air passenger passports against the Interpol database of stolen passports.

The VWP allows foreign citizens to travel in the U.S. without a visa for up to 90 days.

Schumer says the legislation he plans to introduce Monday will close a “gaping loophole” which missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has shined light on.

Two passengers on the flight, which went missing March 8, were traveling on stolen passports. If Malaysia Airlines officials had checked those passports against the Interpol database they would have found they were stolen.

"It is shocking to me that in the post-9/11 era, when we have seen how much damage just a few bad individuals can cause, that countries would choose not to ensure that the people who are flying in and out of their country are actually who they say they are," Schumer said Sunday.

Only five of Interpol’s 190 members countries routinely use the database, New York Daily News reported.

Those countries are the U.S., Britain, France, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

The Transnational Regulation of Identity of Passports (TRIP) Act would give countries five years to begin using the Interpol database to screen passengers on international flights before they are block from the VWP. Eventually citizens from those countries would not even be able to secure tourist and business visas in the U.S.

"With this bill I am confident the number of countries using Interpol's database to make sure that international flights are safe would go way up," he said. "The technology exists to stop the bad guys before they board our planes and enter our country, so there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't put pressure on other countries to use it."

Sources: New York Daily News, WBNG