Civil Rights Group Sues DHS Over Israel Visa Waiver – Michael Arria 9/27/23


The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over Israel’s entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows nationals or citizens from participating countries to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.

“The requirements of the Visa Waiver Program are clear and unambiguous. The U.S. government is obligated to ensure that all Americans are treated equally,” said ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub in a statement. “It is our intent to hold the US government accountable for any actions that create separate classes of US citizens. Admitting Israel into the Visa Waiver Program would be an endorsement of discrimination against Palestinian and Arab Americans.”

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that Israel had been accepted into the program. “The designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our shared security interests and the close cooperation between our two countries,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “This designation, which represents over a decade of work and coordination between the United States and Israel, will enhance our two nations’ collaboration on counterterrorism, law enforcement, and our other common priorities. Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, and the stringent requirements it entails, will make both of our nations more secure.”

The move has been widely criticized over Israel’s longstanding travel restrictions on Palestinians. In July, Israel launched a pilot program that loosened some of the rules for Palestinian Americans. However, groups like the ADC point out that, even with the modifications, the country still fails to clear the threshold needed for VWP entry.

For instance, even though the program is ostensibly based on the principle of reciprocity, Palestinian Americans living in Gaza will still need to obtain a permit to leave….

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