Three Republican members of Congress are trying to prevent a new Obama Administration regulation that would grant Libyan nationals the ability to attend flight school in the United States.
Representatives Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the Protecting the Homeland Act (H.R. 5401), designed to stop the Obama Administration from lifting a longtime prohibition on Libyan nationals from coming to America to attend flight school, to work in aviation maintenance or flight operations, or to study or seek training in nuclear science.
The prohibition of Libyan nationals attending flight school et al. in the US took effect in 1983, after a wave of terrorist incidents involving Libyans, with restrictions being approved in July. According to a press release on Gowdy’s website, once DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson signs the regulation, it will take effect unless further action is taken.
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The abstract of the rule, released from the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, states:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations by rescinding the regulatory provisions promulgated in 1983 that terminated the nonimmigrant status and barred the granting of certain immigration benefits to Libyan nationals and foreign nationals acting on behalf of Libyan entities who are engaging in or seeking to obtain studies or training in aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related fields. The United States Government and the Government of Libya have normalized their relationship and most of the restrictions and sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations toward Libya have been lifted.
Gowdy, who is the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, slammed the Obama Administration:
Considering the deteriorating situation in Libya, it is hard to understand why DHS is moving ahead with repealing this 30-year old rule. We still have not heard from the Administration why this policy is going to improve national security. Is post-revolutionary Libya secure enough to change the rules? Why now? This is a risk to our national security and compels us to act.
Goodlatte, in the same release, cited the evacuation of Americans working in Tripoli as a reason not to go forward with this new DHS rule:
This summer, Americans working at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli were evacuated due to rival rebel groups battling each other for control of the area. And less than two years ago, the U.S. consulate consulate in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists, leaving four Americans dead.
DHS started considering restrictions last October, 13 months after terrorists attacked the American consulate in Benghazi. At the time, both Goodlatte and Chaffetz condemned the action. In October, Chaffetz stated on his website:
It is unbelievable that this administration would again put Americans in harm’s way by lifting a decades old security ban on a country that has become a hotbed of terrorist activity. We must work with the Libyans to build mutual trust that ensures safety and prosperity for both countries to enjoy.
On Monday, the Utah Republican echoed similar sentiments:
“Lifting the ban to allow Libyans to come to the U.S. to train in aviation and nuclear sciences is not only bad policy, but it threatens the safety of this country. I appreciate Chairmen Goodlatte and Gowdy for their leadership on this important issue.”
Four of the 19 terrorists who committed the attacks of September 11 received training at American flight schools, according to the 9/11 Commission Report.
The House Judiciary Committee is expected to take up this legislation on Wednesday.
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