Third District Congressman Gresham Barrett has introduced the “Stop Terrorists Entry Program” or STEP Act. It would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to bar admission of aliens into the U.S. from countries that have strong ties to terrorist regimes. It would also bar admission by detainees who were housed in the Guantanamo Bay facility.
The U.S. State Department has identified Cuba, Iran, the Sudan and Syria as sponsors of terrorism. In addition, Barrett has added Yemen to the list due to reports of increased levels of terrorist activities there.
Barrett says the idea is just the safety of American citizens. “All we’re saying is, if the State Department says these are bad players, and we’re adding Yemen, then you can’t come into the country,” he says. “Now you can work your way off the list if you do the right thing and police your action up.”
Barrett says Citizens from those countries who have already obtained a U.S. visa and currently reside in the U.S. would not be affected by the new law, contrary to some claims that they would be deported.
Barrett insists that he’s not trying to discriminate. “People are welcome from those countries if they’re subject to religious persecution or having a medical emergency,” he says. “We’re not trying to being unreasonable. I just think that if these places are hot beds of terrorism that we shouldn’t allow these people into the United States.”