Bill Would Prohibit Visas to Aliens with Ties to Chinese Military

On June 17, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Visa Security Act. If enacted, this bill would deny F and J nonimmigrant visas, which allow foreign nationals to enter the United States as students, researchers, and cultural visitors, to individuals who are currently or were previously employed or sponsored by Chinese PLA institutions.

The PLA is the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military and has served as an enforcement arm to steal intelligence and technology from other nations, especially from the United States. 

This bill would also create a list of research institutions associated with the PLA and require the State Department to administer background checks on Chinese nationals applying for research visas. These measures would mitigate the likelihood of CCP operatives entering the U.S. as students or researchers and stealing American technology, military research, and intellectual property to send to Beijing.

With China’s nefarious actions garnering the attention of both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, this legislation comes at an opportune time.

According to a new report from the Office of Director of National Intelligence, China has become a larger geopolitical threat. The report confirms a long-standing concern that the CCP is engaging in espionage and theft of American technological, military, and proprietary commercial sectors to gain an advantage over its rivals.

The threat from China is not just prevalent in the U.S. but also across the globe. The PLA Visa Security Act recommends that Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom implement similar visa restrictions in their respective nations, as these four countries are in an intelligence-sharing group with the U.S. known as “Five Eyes.” Allowing CCP agents to enter any of these countries as a researcher could have devastating consequences on the sensitive national security information shared between participating nations.

There are countless instances of Chinese operatives with ties to the PLA stealing sensitive information from private and governmental entities throughout the U.S., many of whom arrived in the country through academic-based visas. Preventing foreign military operatives from infiltrating American academic institutions should be common sense. Even President Joe Biden’s defense and foreign policy staffers have supported this bill. 

The Senate has already made bipartisan progress on passing the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act to curtail China’s growing influence in the U.S. However, Congress and President Biden must also act on the glaring vulnerabilities in our nation’s immigration laws. Otherwise, the U.S. will continue to be at risk of enduring preventable foreign attacks.

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