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White House tightens Visa Waiver Program in wake of Paris attacks

The White House has announced it will add more screening for travelers allowed to enter the US without a visa. The decision comes after calls to tighten the Visa Waiver Program following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

People from thirty-eight countries around the world are currently allowed to enter the US without applying for a visa. While the program will remain in place, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will start collecting information regarding visits to countries considered "terrorist safe havens."

The White House said on Monday it was also asking Congress for the authority to reprimand airlines that failed to verify passport data.

DHS released a statement as well urging Congress to pass legislation tightening the program, noting that the terrorist group the "Islamic State" (IS), which claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, "consists of foreign terrorist fighters, including thousands from countries in the Visa Waiver Program."

Since the November 13 attacks, more than half of all US governors have expressed concern about taking in Syrian refugees, complicating President Barack Obama's plan to resettle 10,000 refugees in the US within the next year.

blc/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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