Tighter visa rules could allay fears

Daily Editorial Board

In an effort to protect American citizens from  terrorists, the Obama administration has tightened restrictions on who can enter the United States without a visa.
 
 
Under the new rules, travelers who have visited Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan in the past five years will need a visa to enter the U.S., regardless of their home country. This reforms the country’s visa waiver program, which allows citizens of 38 participating countries to enter and remain in the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. 
 
 
Federal officials say the new rules will not affect journalists, humanitarian workers or regional government employees who travel to Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan for business. 
 
 
The restrictions have come under fire from House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who accused them of leniency. On the other hand, Sen.
Dick Durban, D-Ill., said the rules might encourage profiling by targeting people who are more likely to travel to the Middle East. 
 
 
Internationally, too, the new rules have sparked concern. For example, because the visa waiver reforms primarily affect citizens of European countries, the European Union may begin to enforce similar restrictions against Americans. 
 
 
Far from encouraging profiling, we hope the new travel restrictions will allay American fears of terrorism and, in so doing, substitute for harsher legislation such as an all-out travel ban. Moreover, we implore our readers to remember that the majority of people traveling to the Middle East have no intent whatsoever to harm Americans.