In response to the Obama administration’s recent approval of a rule lifting a ban on Libyan nationals coming to the U.S. to attend flight school, work in plane maintenance or study nuclear science, House Republicans introduced legislation Monday aimed at ensuring the ban remains.
The ban on Libyans participating in these studies on American soil was put in place in 1983 amid terrorists incidents involving Libyans. In July, citing a “normalized” relations between Libya and the United States, the Obama administration approved a rule to lift the ban.
If the Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson signs the final rule, the ban will be officially lifted.
Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz are trying to prevent that from happening.
“Libya is in chaos. Violent threats in the region continue to grow,” Chaffetz said in a statement Monday. “Even our embassy in Tripoli was evacuated due to militia violence close to the compound. Lifting the ban to allow Libyans to come to the U.S. to train in aviation and nuclear sciences is not only bad policy, but it threatens the safety of this country.”
The “Protecting the Homeland Act” would prohibit Libyans from obtaining authorization to participate in the activities enumerated in the 1983 ban in the U.S.
“Considering the deteriorating situation in Libya, it is hard to understand why DHS is moving ahead with repealing this 30-year old rule. We still have not heard from the Administration why this policy is going to improve national security,” Gowdy added, explaining that the bill would “codify the current regulation and prevent the Administration from unilaterally carrying out this change.”
The House Judiciary Committee is planning to mark up the legislation Wednesday.
“Given the ongoing terrorist activity in Libya, it is unconscionable that the Obama Administration is carelessly forging ahead with its plan to allow Libyan pilots and nuclear scientists to train in the United States,” Goodlatte said.
“The Obama Administration justifies its plan by claiming that the United States’ relationship with Libya has ‘normalized,’ but it is anything but normal. This summer, Americans working at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli were evacuated due to rival rebel groups battling each other for control of the area,” he continued. “And less than two years ago, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists, leaving four Americans dead.”