Passes Legislation to Enhance Overseas Traveler Vetting & Help Stem Flow of Foreign Fighters

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Enhancing Overseas Traveler Vetting Act (H.R. 4403).  The legislation, introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), works to improve the vetting of travelers against terrorist watch lists and law enforcement databases, enhances border management, and improves targeting and analysis.

On the House floor, speaking in support of the bipartisan legislation, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

The global threat of terrorism has never been as high as it is today.  In just the last 12 months, we’ve seen terrorists strike in my home state of California, and in France, Belgium, Turkey, India, Tunisia, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Pakistan and Iraq – to name a few.  No country is immune.  The ideology of violent extremism knows no boundaries – allowing individuals to become radicalized by terrorists overseas without leaving their neighborhood.

I just returned from Iraq, Jordan and Tunisia, where I heard first-hand about the foreign fighter threat.  More than 35,000 foreigners from 120 countries have traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS, and many of these fighters are now looking to return to their homes and to the United States to carry out attacks.

That is why information sharing between countries is more critical than ever.

The bipartisan Task Force’s report highlighted the lack of any comprehensive, global database of foreign fighters and suspected terrorists.  In its absence, the U.S. and other countries rely on a patchwork system for exchanging extremist identities, which is weak and increases the odds that foreign fighters and suspected terrorists will be able to cross borders undetected.

H.R. 4403 will authorize the Secretaries of the Department of State and Homeland Security to develop open-source software platforms to vet travelers against terrorist watch lists and law enforcement databases.  It permits the open-source software to be shared with foreign governments and multilateral organizations, like INTERPOL.

This bill reflects the recommendations made by our colleagues on the Task Force, which we have worked together on.  I thank Mr. Hurd and Chairman McCaul for their leadership working to make our nation safer against terrorist threats.