ADC Statement on the Admission of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program

ADC Statement on the Admission of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program

Washington, DC | | September 27, 2023 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) denounces, in the strongest terms, the admission of Israel into the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This decision by the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State, not only undermines our rights but also imports Israel’s discriminatory practices into an American program. Israel has not demonstrated equal treatment towards American citizens, and the mere two-month evaluation by the US Government was wholly insufficient.

The administration’s decision comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by ADC yesterday evening which demonstrates that DHS is not following the law by redefining the meaning of reciprocity, a central tenet of the VWP which requires that participating countries treat all American citizens equally. It is troubling that the US Government pressed ahead with this announcement despite being aware of the lawsuit. No ruling has yet been made in the case and ADC remains committed to pursuing all legal options to protect the civil rights of Arab and Palestinian Americans.

It is alarming that the apartheid, separate and unequal system enforced by Israel over Palestinians, one that is applied to Americans as well, now has the endorsement of the US Government.

ADC’s stance has been consistent and resolute: Israel must not be granted entry into the VWP as long as it continues to discriminate against Arab Americans, and in particular Palestinian Americans. We have engaged in good faith with both DHS and State, highlighting our concerns about Israeli policies and practices. It is deeply disappointing that our sincere efforts were disregarded, and our concerns ignored. The fundamental principle of “blue is blue”, alluding to the color of US passports, has been discarded.

ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “By endorsing a tiered system for U.S. citizens, our government has given its tacit approval to Israel’s prejudiced policies and apartheid actions. This decision broadcasts a stark message: not all American passport holders are viewed equally. ADC does not accept that message, and will be using every available option to fight it.”

ADC National Government Affairs and Advocacy Director Chris Habiby said, “Israel’s track record of discrimination against Arab Americans, particularly Palestinian Americans, is neither short-lived nor subtle. For the Biden Administration to welcome Israel into this program is not only a blatant endorsement of this discrimination but also an affront to the expected basic standard of universal equal treatment of Americans regardless of their ethnicity.”

ADC is thoroughly exploring every means to contest this decision. Our resolve remains unyielding.

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