GAO Raps DHS for Failure to Get Security Data from Visa Waiver Countries

USA_Passport_StampOne of the requirements for allowing visa-free entry of tourists from countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is that those governments share with us information on nationals with terrorism links and/or criminal histories. According to a report of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued in May 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has obtained those agreements with most of the countries, but more than a third of  the agreements have not been implemented, and no data have been received from them.

In addition, Congress has required reports from DHS on implementation of the VWP with each of the participating countries, but GAO found that DHS has failed to provide many of those reports when due.

The recommendation of agency (GAO-16-498) is that, “DHS should (1) specify time frames for working with VWP countries on the requirement to implement information-sharing agreements and (2) take steps to improve its timeliness in reporting to Congress on whether VWP countries should continue in the program.”

FAIR has consistently pointed to the VWP as a national security threat and called for its termination. This GAO report underscores the security flaw and finds that it is exacerbated by cavalier implementation by DHS.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    Just another case, yet again, where a government agency is not doing what it is LEGALLY required to do. And no one does a thing and all the media does is bleat about Trump and ignore the constitutional failures of this president. Even if the countries refuse to cooperate, the answer is, yet again, simple and easy. COOPERATE OR NO VISAS ISSUED. We’re the world’s biggest doormat, and we do nothing about it. The right of any and all foreigners to come here seems to be this administration’s worry, not the safety of our citizens.

    And speaking of that, I thought I would never see something like we saw last week in San Jose. Americans attending a political rally were beaten and bloodied just feet from cops who stood there and let it happen. And the excuse was we didn’t want to escalate the violence. So a certain number of people being beaten is acceptable? Sounds like a good class action lawsuit to me.

    The fact is that there were250 cops and 400 protestors. Had they decided to control this, they could have shut it down right away. But the excuse from Hillary on down is that It’s Trump that bears the ultimate responsibility or that the Trump people “taunted” the protestors. Even if true, there is no excuse for attacking someone and the cops doing nothing.

    Had this been protestors beating Hillary people at her rally, we would have heard a media howl from coast to coast and the Justice Dept. investigating the police dept. that did nothing to stop it. This episode, and the reaction to it, is a disgrace. Another step down the ladder to third world status.