“Some” of the Paris terrorists who killed 130 people in November would have been prevented from traveling to the U.S., a Customs and Border Protection official testified Wednesday before a Senate Panel.
“Some of them would have been prevented from traveling here to begin with,” CBP deputy assistant commissioner for field operations John Wagner responded to questioning from Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)— which allows travellers from some countries, mostly European, to travel to the U.S. for 90 days or less without a visa.
Peters (D-MI) pressed the hearing witnesses on the Paris attack terrorists. “Knowing what you know, the folks that were engaged in the attack, would they have been stopped at the border of the United States based on what we have right now?”
To which Wagner said some would have been prevented from traveling to the U.S.
“Some, not all,” Peters responded.
“Some,” Wagner said again, adding he would prefer to go into the details in a more classified setting. However, Wagner noted that some of the terrorists were identified as national security risks already.
“There’s information that we would have received from their travel details that we’re confident we would have identified had they booked travel to the United States,” Wagner said.
Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) followed up asking if the situation would have been any different without the VWP and if an embassy issuing visas would have had better information
“The embassy is going to have the same information we’ll have access to,” Wagner said. “It’s the same data bases we check. It’s the same basic biographical information we ask whether its on any type of visa application or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application for a visa waiver traveler.”
Congress is considering avenues to tighten VWP security.