Shouldn't We Drop Greece from the Visa Waiver Program?

By David North, June 20, 2012

It is not exactly a friendly gesture, but should not the United States drop Greece from our Visa Waiver Program?

VWP is for people from 36 prosperous countries who can come to the United States with their nation's passport and no screening by any American embassy. The notion is that they will spend money as tourists and only a sliver of them will stay illegally.

It makes sense for Brits, Germans, Japanese, and others, but should we give the same rights to the hard-pressed people of Greece, whose economy has collapsed and threatens to collapse further.

Won't the number of visa abusers from that country soar, if it has not already? Is there any short-term prospect that its huge unemployment rates will decline soon?

There's a sound precedent for dropping Greece; we did that to both Argentina in 2002 and to smaller, neighboring Uruguay the next year. This was done in the wake of Argentina's financial debacle, including its default on its debt. The Bush administration noticed the "increase in the number of Argentine nationals attempting to use the VWP to enter the United States and remain illegally past the 90-day period of admission" according to a Congressional Research Service report written at the time.

A nation can lose its VWP status if the U.S. government declares an emergency, and that includes "a severe economic collapse".

Argentina, which has largely recovered its prosperity, and Uruguay are both on a short list of nations that the U.S. government is considering for inclusion in the VWP.

If we are going to be serious about controlling illegal immigration, we should face uncomfortable facts and take Greece off the VWP list.