Statement by the President: Signing of the Visa Waiver Permanent Program Act (10/30/00)


                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                            October 30, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today I have signed into law H.R. 3767, the Visa Waiver Permanent
Program Act.  This Act will, among other things, make permanent a highly
successful pilot program that for the past twelve years has permitted
nationals of many countries to enter the United States for business and
tourism without the necessity of first obtaining a U.S. visa, so long as
U.S. citizens are granted similar privileges in their countries.  By
facilitating travel to the United States in this manner, the Visa Waiver
Program is helping to generate billions of dollars in tourist and business
revenues for U.S. companies.  At the same time, it is fostering good will
for the United States and an under-standing of who we are as a people by
giving to millions of citizens from participating countries an increased
opportunity to visit our many natural wonders as well as the places that
are vital to our national heritage.

     The Visa Waiver Program is good for government, too.  Because visitors
from participating countries do not have to obtain visas, the Department of
State is able to reallocate scarce resources from issuing routine visas in
low-risk waiver countries to doing more for American citizens and combating
fraud in high-risk countries.  Further, the legislation contains a
provision that removes a potential roadblock to continued participation in
the program of many countries by recognizing, for purposes of reciprocity,
common border areas composed of several states.

     H.R. 3767 establishes new requirements that will strengthen the
existing Visa Waiver Program.  For example, it contains provisions to
enhance our security by requiring that within specified time frames all
foreign nationals entering the United States under the program have
machine-readable passports.  Those passports are less susceptible to fraud
and can more readily assist the Immigration and Naturalization Service to
track the entry and timely departure of foreign nationals.  Further, H.R.
3767 requires the Attorney General, in consultation
with the Secretary of State, prior to admitting a new country into the Visa
Waiver Program, to consider the effect of the country's admission on the
law enforcement and security interests of the United States.  It also will
require continual monitoring of those considerations with respect to all
countries in the program.  Finally, H.R. 3767 provides an emergency
procedure for termination of a country's participation.  This occurs when
the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of State,
determines that because of events in that country, such as a severe
breakdown of law and order or economic collapse, the continued
participation of that country would pose a threat to our law enforcement or
security interests.

     In addition to these provisions of the Visa Waiver Program, this Act
also includes immigration-related provisions that will further the
Administration's objective of promoting the rapid and pro-competitive
privatization of the International Telecommuni-cations Satellite
Organization (INTELSAT), a goal widely shared by INTELSAT member
countries.  By ensuring that the immigrant status of the current employees
of this intergovernmental entity will not be adversely affected, the United
States is affirming its commitment to a smooth privatization and expressing
its desire to welcome a pro-competitively privatized INTELSAT as a valued
U.S. corporate citizen.

     In its pilot state, the Visa Waiver Program has been a great success.
Now, as a result of this legislation, it not only will be a better program,
but it will become a permanent part of our Nation's immigration system.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    October 30, 2000



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