New U.S. Attorney General Opposed Visa-Waiver Program For Chinese, Russian Tourists

When he was Senator, Sessions objected to Department of Homeland Security authorization of program that benefits Guam, CNMI

By Gaynor D. Daleno - For Variety

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (The Guam Daily Post, Feb. 14, 2017) – The Trump administration’s new attorney general has opposed the Obama-era program that allows Russian tourists to enter Guam, and for Chinese and Russian tourists to visit the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, without the vetting required for U.S. travel visa applicants.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then chairman of the Senate subcommittee on immigration and national interest, wrote to the Department of Homeland Security in 2015 questioning why Homeland used its “parole authority” to allow the visa-free entry of Russian and Chinese tourists.

Sessions wrote that the visa-waiver program “clearly violates the prohibition” on using Homeland’s parole authority.

Visa applicants who want to enter the United States face stringent scrutiny at U.S. embassies and are required to show proof they have money to be tourists or are short-term business visitors and that they have strong family and economic ties to return to in their home countries after visiting the United States.

A former Alabama senator for two decades, Sessions wrote, in part: “The Russian and Chinese tourist parole programs in Guam and the CNMI circumvent the regime Congress established expressly for visa-free travel to Guam and the CNMI.”

Unlike the visa-waiver program for Russian and Chinese tourists bound for the CNMI, Guam’s visa-waiver program allows for visa-free entry of Russians, but not Chinese tourists.

Guam’s visitor industry spent years, and money on lobbyists, as it tried to get the visa-waiver program for Guam to be expanded to include mainland Chinese tourists.

The Guam Visitors Bureau established a goal of raising the annual tourist arrivals from 1.5 million now to 2 million by 2020, based in large part on the hope for approval of visa-free travel for Chinese tourists.

Marianas Variety
Copyright © 2017 Marianas Variety. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment