Casinos Push for Travel Legislation that Boosts Homeland Security in Wake of Recent Terror Attacks
The casino gaming industry is calling for passage of federal legislation that strengthens homeland security while maintaining an efficient entry process for millions of international visitors to the United States. Ahead of a vote on the bill in the United States House of Representatives this afternoon, the American Gaming Association (AGA) joined the U.S. Travel Association and others today in sending a letter to House members encouraging them to support H.R. 158, the bipartisan Visa Waiver Improvement Act of 2015, which was introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) and has 89 co-sponsors. Among the co-sponsors are eight members of the Congressional Gaming Caucus.
The bill requires visitors to show fraud-resistant passports and for the 38 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries to perform checks of travelers against counterterrorism databases.
“On behalf of the 14.6 million American workers whose livelihood depends on safe international travel to the United States, we are writing in support of H.R. 158, legislation to strengthen homeland security in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks,” AGA wrote in the letter. “The horrific attacks in Paris underscore the need for every possible measure to protect public safety. And no one advocates for security precautions more vigorously than travel professionals. Without public confidence in air security, worldwide commerce will be crippled.”
The VWP, originally created to facilitate travel, today is one of the most effective tools against global terror. Because of VWP, governments around the world now are working cooperatively at the highest levels of law enforcement to identify risky travelers – both before boarding flights and upon arrival in the United States. For the 38 countries that are currently VWP members, the U.S. has unparalleled authority to inspect their counter-terrorism, border control, aviation and travel document security methods and facilities.
Since this system was established in 2008, the United States has denied entry to over 4,300 would-be travelers known or suspected of posing a threat.
“Even successful programs such as VWP can be improved. In our view, the battery of reforms proposed in H.R. 158 will help make us all safer,” AGA wrote. “We support its provisions to add additional layers of protection, including by increasing preclearance and immigration advisory programs; working with other governments to strengthen their watch lists and vetting systems; and expanding Global Entry to enroll more rigorously screened, trusted travelers. These are thoughtful, effective reforms.”
Co-sponsors who are also members of the Congressional Gaming Caucus:
· Rep. Billy Long (R-MO)
· Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
· Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA)
· Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)
· Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA)
· Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
· Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
· Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.