Senators Work to Close Loophole that Allows Terrorists to Stay in U.S.

Press Release

By:  Saxby Chambliss Chuck Grassley
Date: March 7, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Senators Chuck Grassley and Saxby Chambliss have introduced legislation to close a loophole in U.S. visa policy that could allow foreign nationals to remain in the United States after they have had their visa revoked.
Since 2003, Congress' investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the weaknesses of the visa revocation process. Their investigations revealed the extreme difficulty the United States has in deporting suspected terrorists already on U.S. soil if their visa is revoked on terrorism grounds.

"Current law handicaps our law enforcement and makes it nearly impossible to deport a potential terrorist if they are already in the United States. A change is needed so that people who wish to do Americans harm are deported, and our nation's intelligence is protected," Grassley said. "We shouldn't allow suspected terrorists to take advantage of our court system and exploit our laws. Revocations can be a useful anti-terrorism tool that can better project the security of our borders and our nation."

"A visa to enter the United States is a privilege, not a right. A terrorist is not entitled to judicial review when the State Department denies or revokes his visa overseas. Nor should he be entitled to judicial review of a visa revocation just because he manages to find his way into the United States," said Chambliss. "This bill ensures that such a terrorist will not be permitted to abuse our judicial system by challenging the State Department's revocation of his visa in an effort to delay his deportation."

Current law allows for individuals granted a visa and already on U.S. soil to use the U.S. court system to block deportation, should the federal government determine that the person's visa be revoked. In 2003, the GAO found that foreign nationals with ties to terrorism couldn't be deported because of this policy.

Grassley and Chambliss seek to apply the doctrine of non-reviewability to revocations. If an individual is denied a visa by the consular officer, there's no judicial review of that decision. The bill applies the same standard for individuals on U.S. soil who should not have been granted a visa in the first place, limiting their rights to judicial review of such a decision.

Grassley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chambliss is the Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.