The United States is considering admitting Israel into the Visa Waiver Program, announces a recent news article. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit stated the reasoning behind this consideration when he said, “It is absurd that the U.S. requires Israelis to have visas, when Americans are exempt from the need for a visa to Israel, and in many states around the world Israelis enter without visas,” Both Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Under Secretary of State William Burns are in agreement regarding this step toward Israel.
The War on Terror and the state of the economy are two of the most important issues facing America right now and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is critical for both. Regarding the war on terror, the VWP shows the world that even when America is under threat, we have the confidence to not close our borders: to do so would be to admit defeat. VWP is also important for the economy. Currently 27 countries are allowed, under this program, to come to the U.S. for business or tourism, bringing in nearly $100 billion per year. In my article Visa-waiver reform can make America more secure, I wrote that “the visa-waiver program sends an important message: Unintimidated by terrorists, America remains an open nation, eager to welcome visitors to our friendly shores. It’s a good program that should be made even better, and bigger.” Thankfully the Department of Homeland Security recognizes the importance of this program and is welcoming Israel with open arms.
This piece is also cross-posted on the Heritage Foundation’s National Security blog.