May 7th, 2010
By Penny Starr, CNSNEWS
what could go wrong?
Four months after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit and nine years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, only 14 of the 57 U.S. consulates identified as being at “high risk” for potentially providing visas to terrorists have been furnished with units of the Department of Homeland Security’s Visa Security Program (VSP).
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, is planning to freeze the program’s budget for fiscal 2011.
The VSP, established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, puts Department of Homeland Security officials in the field at U.S. consulates to vet the backgrounds of people applying for U.S. visas. DHS uses a broader range of databases than the State Department to review the backgrounds of visa applicants. Also, many policymakers believe DHS officials tend to be more security-minded than State Department consular officers when reviewing visa applications.
While administration officials have said publicly that five additional VSP units should be in place at high risk consulates by the end of 2011, President Barack Obama’s fiscal Year 2011 budget for DHS–submitted almost two months after the Christmas Day bombing attempt—does not increase funding for the program from its fiscal 2010 level.