Senator Rand Paul is at it again. Not content with his earlier benighted effort to halt the flow of refugees to America he also, apparently, wants to cripple the economy. Last night Senator Paul introduced amendment number 2899 to add the Stop Extremists Coming Under Refugee Entry Act (SECURE Act) to the reconciliation vehicle that is pending consideration in the Senate. Here is some of what Paul's amdendment proposed:
· It would direct every alien admitted to the country as a refugee or granted asylum register with DHS as part of an enhanced screening process. So we would not just have a list of Donald Trump's muslims -- but of everyone who comes to the US in distress.
· It would require the alien to be interviewed and fingerprinted by a DHS official. Of course, this is already done under the Refugee Admissions Program.
· It would further direct DHS to perform a security review on these aliens to ensure such individuals do not present a national security risk. This too is already done under the Refugee Admissions Program.
· It would place a temporary moratorium, until certain conditions are met, on the admission of refugees or granting of asylum to aliens from 34 countries or territories. The same countries he earlier tried to halt entry from. The condemned nations include Indonesia (a vibrant democracy) and Turkey (a NATO ally) -- it is, essentially, a list of every muslim country in the world.
I could go on. There is more. But let's focus on the capstone of the bill -- the effort to kill the Visa Waiver Program. The Paul amendment says that no alien may enter the country “until after 30 days of security assessments have been conducted on such alien, regardless of whether the alien’s country of origin is participating in the Visa Waiver Program.” Now, the VWP program applies to 37 countries -- including our closest allies, like Great Britain, France, and Australia. It authorizes travel without a visa to the US and last year nearly 20 million visitors (business people and tourists alike) took advantage of the program. If Paul has his way, business travellers from Japan (another VWP member) would have to plan their visit to the US at least 30 days in advance. Imagine the chaos. Imagine the hit to the economy. Imagine if these 37 countries decided to reciprocate and apply a 30 day waiting period to US citizens who wanted to travel abroad.
Happily the Senate is wiser than that -- the Paul amendment was rejected during deliberations. But we've learned something: Rand Paul is no libertarian. He is a nativist and an isolationist.