Local reaction to Visa-free travel

Rayyan Elawad, came to the U.S. in 1990, served his country and is now a student at CSU.

COLUMBUS, Ga.- On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation which tighten the process for people entering the country. The Visa Waiver program allows people from 38 countries to come to the U.S. without having a Visa for up to three months.

The measure, which passed 407 to 19 requires a Visa from people who came from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan or any person who visited those countries in the last five years.

Rayyan Elawad came to America in 1990. He says due to a political coup in 1989, his father was held captive due to his education. Once his father was freed, the rest of the family joined by way of the Visa process. Even though Elawad was only an infant he says it was a relief to come to the states.

Rayyan Elawad, came to the U.S. in 1990, served his country and is now a student at CSU.
Rayyan Elawad, came to the U.S. in 1990, served his country and is now a student at CSU.

He adds that this measure may make it tougher for people to come to the states, but he understands why it was done.

Nicholas Easton, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbus State does not believe this measure will have any severe implications and adds that it is a step that shows that Congress and the President can agree on keeping the country safer. He adds that it should not go any further, meaning we should not give into the hysteria that events like Paris and San Bernardino caused. He added, “We live in a great big, wide open world these days, and we have to be careful about not shutting our doors, not giving into isolationism and that would really hurt us.”

Fred Gordon is the Political Science Chair at Columbus State. He agrees that is a measure to provide a sense of security, even though it may be a psychological sense of security. He adds that it is a reactive measure to recent events and that threats still exist. “I think it’s the same issue in terms of refugees as a whole, Gordon said. “Should states allow them to come into their respective states and while you can symbolically say, no it’s a security measure, threats still do exist. It is a very difficult international climate right now. I see this as one measure, but one of many possible measures that possibly could be taken.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop, who supported the measure said “In today’s dangerous world, vigilance is essential to our national security,” said Congressman Bishop. “H.R. 158 bolsters the screening process for foreign nationals and addresses security vulnerabilities found within the Visa Waiver Program, making our nation more safe and secure.”

Elawad says he is thankful for the opportunities that the state has provided him and he still keeps a piece of Sudan in his heart, but his true home is the United States. “It puts a smile on my face to know to call this place home especially when I’ve traveled too,” Elawad said. “I’ve seen other places. I’m proud to be an American though. I love it here.”

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