Republican presidential hopeful and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has called for scrapping the visa waiver programme for travellers from over 38 countries including France in the wake of the Paris attacks. Paul's comments come in the wake of reports that most of the terrorists in the mayhem may have been of European nationalities including French.
"We have to be concerned about French citizens coming here. Most of the people involved in the attack, I think, are going to turn out to be French citizens. My concern is that French citizens who have great hostility for civilization, their own government and peace, have the same great hostility for us, and that they could get on a plane and come here," the senator told Fox News. To tackle this problem, he said the US should apply more screening to all French citizens, students and visitors.
France, which is among the 38 countries all over the world – including 23 from the EU-- which presently do not need visas for tourist travel to the US, could be substantially impacted by the proposed change. Paul had introduced a bill on Monday (16 November) that would require a 30-day waiting period for all travellers to the US to allow time for authorities to conduct background checks.
Although the proposals in the bill are far from seeing the light of day, Paul's stand is likely to gather momentum as sharp criticism of the Obama administration's refugee policy continues. House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul also called the waiver programme 'vulnerable' and said he expected legislation to be introduced later this month that might address the issue.
Paul also refuted Obama's argument that refugees were not a potential threat citing the fact that in the Paris carnage one of the main attackers affiliated to Islamic State (Isis) is believed to have used a fake Syrian passport to gain entry into Europe through Germany. He also cited a case in the US, from his home state Kentucky, where two Iraqi refugees were prosecuted for supporting terror overseas, and the brothers behind the Boston Marathon bombing who were also granted asylum status in the US.