Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-SC) has announced his intention to reintroduce legislation that would prohibit "the admission of aliens from countries designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism as well as Yemen to the United States." The Stop Terrorist Entry Program (STEP) Act, first introduced in 2003, also would have required all persons from these countries on student visas, temporary work visas, and exchange and tourist visas to leave the United States within 60 days, despite their legal status in the country. Residents and nationals of Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen would be affected.
The bill makes an exception only in the cases of individuals who are seeking political or religious asylum, or who have immediate emergency medical needs.
Congressman Barrett said his bill came in response to the Fort Hood shooting and the Christmas-day attempt to blow up an airplane over Detroit. "While President Obama may have declared an end to the War on Terror, it is clear our enemies did not get the message. Twice in the past two months, radical Islamic terrorists have attacked our nation and the Administration has failed to adapt its national security and immigration policies to counter the renewed resolve of those who seek to harm our citizens."
The American Army major and Nigerian alleged to have committed those attacks would not have been affected by the STEP Act.
In response to Barrett's announcement, the National Iranian American Council has launched a campaign against the bill, saying it is "offensive to American principles, harmful to US interests, and discriminates against Iranians and Iranian Americans." The group also noted that no Iranian has ever committed a terrorist act on American soil.
The 2003 version of the bill is available online. Congressman Barrett's office did not respond to requests for comment. Aside from the inclusion of Yemen, and a new provision to prohibit the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison to the United States, Congressman Barrett has not indicated any further differences between his new bill and the legislation he introduced in 2003.
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