ADC reached out to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas to express concern over the possible admittance of Israel to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). On the 23rd of March Secretary Mayorkas met with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Gilad Erdan. The transcript of the meeting indicated that the two exchanged views on steps Israel is taking to meet the eligibility requirements of the U.S. VWP.
The VWP enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. In return, U.S. Citizens can travel to the participating countries for tourism or business without obtaining a visa.
ADC made it clear that Israel must not be permitted to take part in the program. The VWP is explicitly conditioned on reciprocity: All U.S. citizens should be able to enter participating countries and similarly stay without visas. As it stands today, Israel must not be allowed in the VWP unless they truly extend reciprocal privileges to all Americans without regard to race, religion, national origin, or ethnicity. This includes extending fair and equal treatment to Arab Americans, including Palestinian Americans. Throughout the years ADC has received thousands of complaints from Arab-American citizens who have been mistreated or denied entry through Israeli controlled borders.
Admitting Israel into the VWP will endorse its discrimination towards U.S. Citizens who are of Arab descent, including Palestinian Americans. U.S. citizens of Arab descent are often detained by Israeli border agents and interrogated for hours before being refused entry. Also, U.S. Citizens who hold a West Bank ID, Gaza ID, or Palestinian Authority Passport are not permitted to fly into Tel Aviv and are routinely denied entry. Again, the VWP calls for all U.S. Citizens to participate.
ADC calls on DHS to not admit Israel into the VWP. Allowing Israel to participate in the VWP will be an endorsement by the U.S. Government of a foreign country’s policies and practices which dehumanize and discriminate against a large number of American citizens.
If you have experienced discrimination at the border, please contact our legal team by reporting an incident online.