Wednesday, November 12, 2014

More on Visa Policy

Since George W. Bush was in office the United States has mad large efforts to alienate us from the rest of the world, to the point where only Canadians, Palauans, Marshall Islanders, and Micronesians can enter the United States without some sort of visa. There are two ways this happens, either through the "Visa-Waiver Program" which is a misnomer, and through the normal visa system.
For those who don't know, the Visa-Waiver program is offered to 38 countries, and this requires people to sign up before they land in the United States (one major characteristic of a visa) and they pay a fine of $14 (it is basically a special type of visa). This has no real effect on catching terrorists (the people who bombed the World Trade Center and Boston Bombers all had visas) but only serves to inconvenience people who want to visit the United States by making them have to pay more money and spend more time before arriving. It is more expensive meaning more processing time for people across the world without actually protecting us.
Now Canada is going to start their own Visa Waiver Program, for everyone except the US (because we're friends) which will seriously inconvenience people who are able to visit Canada without providing any realistic benefit. I am not Canadian, but they should not give in the United States government on this issue. Unless if we were starting a customs union with Canada (which would be a very good thing for both countries) this action is completely counterproductive for Canadians.

Instead of further tightening of our border what we should do is eliminate the Visa Waiver Program altogether and institute visa-free travel from all the countries currently under it which requires no pre-registration, like every other free country except Australia practices today. Individuals who are known to be dangerous from foreign countries we have a visa-free regime with will be blocked from entry, and their passports will be blocked, and this has the advantage of blocking those we do want to block without inconveniencing everyone else. I personally am on the ultra-liberal side of having as few restrictions on travel for this issue, because I see it as a tool for furthering goodwill among nations and making for a better world altogether. I also don't see the threat when the total number of terrorist attack in every other country that has an economy like the United States and doesn't have a large group of home-grown extremists doesn't see large numbers of terrorist attacks.

I don't see any reason to believe that this prescreening works at all, and see no reason to ask people from our closest allies to fork over money to visit America when we don't have to do the same in their country. Plus, we already scan everyone's passports when the enter the country (like every other country I know of that isn't participating in a customs union with other union members) which means we will have records of who is coming in.

In general, this is the wrong direction for Canada and America. We need to fully analyze the costs of having pre-authorization for people from Europe, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, and other highly developed stable democracies and not go backwards on such issues.

We will only know peace when the majority of people can meet people from other cultures and know that we are all human. This is how we fight extremism, and we do this by allowing as many people as possible to travel freely.


For further information, read about the "Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan" which is the official policy between the US and Canada.

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