Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 111548
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File Number: 111548 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-623-11 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: VISA WAIVER PROGRAM Introduced: 7/15/2011
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 7/19/2011
Agenda Date: 7/19/2011 Agenda Item Number: 11A2SUBSTITUTE
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION URGING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO EXTEND VISA WAIVER STATUS TO ARGENTINA, BRAZIL AND CHILE; FURTHER URGING CONGRESS TO PASS THE SECURE TRAVEL & COUNTERTERRORISM PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM ACT OF 2011 [SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 111502]
Indexes: VISA
Sponsors: Sen. Javier D. Souto, Prime Sponsor
  Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
  Rebeca Sosa, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 7/19/2011 11A2 SUBSTITUTE Adopted P

County Mayor 7/18/2011 Additions 7/19/2011

County Attorney 7/15/2011 Assigned Jess M. McCarty

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION URGING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO EXTEND VISA WAIVER STATUS TO ARGENTINA, BRAZIL AND CHILE; FURTHER URGING CONGRESS TO PASS THE SECURE TRAVEL & COUNTERTERRORISM PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM ACT OF 2011

BODY


WHEREAS, the Visa Waiver Program is a U.S. government program that allows citizens of specific countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa; and
WHEREAS, 36 countries currently participate in the Visa Waiver Program, including 30 European countries and Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore; and
WHEREAS, citizens of Bermuda, Canada and Mexico can also travel to the U.S. without a visa; and
WHEREAS, to be admitted to the Visa Waiver Program, a country must meet various security requirements, such as enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the U.S., and also maintain high standards for counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security; and
WHEREAS, in 2009, 15.7 million people from the 36 countries that currently qualify for the Visa Waiver Program visited the U.S., accounting for two-thirds of all overseas visitors; and

WHEREAS, while they were here, these visitors spent nearly $57 billion across 20 travel-related industries, including lodging, dining and transportation, supporting 492,000 American jobs; and
WHEREAS, with the exception of French Guiana, no South American country currently participates in the Visa Waiver Program; and
WHEREAS, Brazil, with a population of nearly 200 million people and a gross domestic product exceeding a trillion dollars, represents a tremendous market for travel to the U.S. and in particular Miami-Dade County; and
WHEREAS, despite having to secure a visa to enter the U.S., 1.2 million Brazilians visited the U.S. in 2010 injecting $5.9 billion into the U.S. economy; and
WHEREAS, nonetheless, the U.S. share of Brazilian travel remains 14 percent below its share in the year 2000; and
WHEREAS, tourism competitors to the U.S. such as Portugal, Mexico, Italy and Germany all have attracted larger shares of the Brazilian tourism market in recent years, some countries seeing up to 50 percent growth in arrivals; and
WHEREAS, Chile and Argentina also represent significant travel markets to the U.S., yet Chilean tourism to the U.S. is down more than 30 percent from ten years ago, while globally the number of Chileans traveling to other countries overseas is up 50 percent; and
WHEREAS, all of South America, the European Union, Russia and New Zealand provide Brazilians and Chilean citizens visa-free privileges for short-term tourism visits; and
WHEREAS, in 2005, the U.S. State Department identified countries interested in participating in the Visa Waiver Program, referred to as road map countries, including both Argentina and Brazil; and
WHEREAS, extending the Visa Waiver Program to South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Chile could increase significantly international tourism to the U.S.; and
WHEREAS, of the 5.8 million international visitors to Miami-Dade County in 2008, 43 percent came from South America, so nowhere would the benefit of extending the Visa Waiver Program to Argentina, Brazil and Chile be greater than in Miami-Dade County; and
WHEREAS, bills have been filed for consideration during the 112th Congress, S. 497 by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D Maryland) and H.R. 959 by Representative Mike Quigley (D - Illinois), entitled the Secure Travel & Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2011 that would restructure and improve the Visa Waiver Program to:
1. Authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Secretary of State, to designate program countries;
2. Replace visa refusal rates with visa overstay rates in determining program participation;
3. Set a maximum 3 percent visa overstay rate for program countries; and
4. Revise probationary status and program termination provisions; and

WHEREAS, passage of S. 497, H.R. 959 or similar legislation could mean Brazil and Chile immediately could qualify for the Vise Waiver Program; and
WHEREAS, President Obama has indicated his support for passage of these bills; and
WHEREAS, because these bills hold the promise of increasing tourism, particularly in Miami, passage of these bills is a priority for the tourism industry and for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau; and
WHEREAS, this Board would like to join the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau in urging Congress to pass the Secure Travel & Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2011 and urging the federal government to extend visa waiver status to Argentina, Brazil and Chile,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that this Board:
Section 1. Urges the federal government to extend visa waiver status to Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
Section 2. Urges Congress to pass the Secure Travel & Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2011, S. 497, H.R. 959 or similar legislation.
Section 3. Directs the Clerk of the Board to transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the members of the Miami-Dade County Congressional Delegation, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Representative Mike Quigley, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. Secretary of State, and the President and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Section 4. Directs the County's federal lobbyists to advocate for the action set forth in Sections 1 and 2 above, and authorizes and directs the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to include this item in the 2011 and 2012 Federal Legislative Packages.



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