Cardin, Cohen, Rubio and Chabot Introduce REVEAL Act

WASHINGTON — Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Commissioner Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), and Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-01) today intro­duced the Revealing and Explaining Visa Exclusions for Accountability and Legitimacy (REVEAL) Act. The bill will allow the Secretary of State to pub­lish the names of human rights abusers, like those respon­si­ble for the assas­si­na­tion of Jamal Khashoggi, and klep­to­crats barred from entry into the United States as a result of visa bans. Currently, the exec­u­tive branch is required to keep the iden­ti­ties of these indi­vid­u­als con­fi­den­tial, pre­vent­ing pub­lic “nam­ing and sham­ing” that would increase the deter­rent effect of visa sanc­tions. “As we have demon­strat­ed time and time again with the Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability laws, nam­ing and sham­ing is a pow­er­ful action we can take to deter cor­rup­tion and human rights abuse. Kleptocrats rely on anonymity—when we bring their crimes to light, we curb their pow­er. The United States should not allow crooks and cronies to hide behind con­fi­den­tial­i­ty,” said Chairman Cardin. “Kleptocracy is a seri­ous threat to democ­ra­cy around the world. In order to pre­serve free­dom of speech and civ­il soci­ety, our for­eign pol­i­cy must be trans­par­ent and allow our allies to have the infor­ma­tion they need to pro­tect them­selves and their democ­ra­cies from cor­rupt net­works and politi­cians,” said Co-Chairman Cohen. “I’m proud to intro­duce the bipar­ti­san and bicam­er­al Revealing and Explaining Visa Exclusions for Accountability and Legitimacy (REVEAL) Act. This bill would allow the U.S. President to reveal the names of indi­vid­u­als who are inel­i­gi­ble from enter­ing our nation, includ­ing sanc­tioned human rights abusers. Not only will this bill pro­vide much-need­ed trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty, it will also be a use­ful tool in expos­ing klep­to­crats and human rights abusers,” said Sen. Rubio. “Dictators and their cronies rely on access to west­ern coun­tries to keep their cor­rupt regimes and busi­ness­es going, and visa bans are a cru­cial tool to cur­tail that access. However, com­mon sense dic­tates we should also let the world know who we are exclud­ing, so that oth­er gov­ern­ments can fol­low our lead. Right now, our abil­i­ty to share such infor­ma­tion is lim­it­ed by cur­rent law. The REVEAL Act reme­dies this sit­u­a­tion by explic­it­ly giv­ing the exec­u­tive branch the abil­i­ty to pub­li­cize who they choose to exclude,” said Rep. Chabot. Rep. John Curtis (UT-03), Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Rep. André Carson (IN-07), and Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45) are orig­i­nal cospon­sors of this leg­is­la­tion in the House. The pow­er to declare an indi­vid­ual inel­i­gi­ble for entry to the United States lies in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the over­ar­ch­ing leg­is­la­tion gov­ern­ing immi­gra­tion to the United States. The INA con­tains a list of rea­sons to ban indi­vid­u­als from the United States, the pro­vi­sions of which are cit­ed when a per­son is declared inel­i­gi­ble. The most-used pro­vi­sion to ban human rights abusers and klep­to­crats is the pro­vi­sion 212(a)(3)©, which enables bans for “poten­tial­ly seri­ous adverse for­eign pol­i­cy con­se­quences.” However, the bans made under this author­i­ty fall under a con­fi­den­tial­i­ty require­ment, which means they are not pub­lic. The REVEAL Act would enable the Secretary of State to waive this con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and reveal the names of these individuals. ###

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