September 17, 2014
Gowdy, Goodlatte, Chaffetz Praise Secretary Johnson's Decision to Keep Ban on Libyans Training as Pilots and Nuclear Scientists in U.S.
Washington, D.C. – Following pressure from House Judiciary Committee Republicans, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced today at a congressional hearing that he will not lift a 30-year old regulation banning Libyans from coming to the United States to attend flight school, work in aircraft maintenance or flight operations, or to study or seek training in nuclear science. The prohibition on Libyans from studying nuclear science or training as pilots in the United States was originally put in place in the 1980s after the wave of terrorist incidents involving Libyans. A year ago, the Obama Administration began the process of lifting this longstanding regulation, claiming that the United States' relationship with Libya has since "normalized."
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee approved in a bipartisan vote the Protecting the Homeland Act (H.R. 5401) – a bill authored by Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) – to stop the Obama Administration from lifting this longstanding prohibition.
Subcommittee Chairman Gowdy, Chairman Goodlatte, and Congressman Chaffetz praised Secretary Johnson's decision in the joint statement below.
"We are pleased that Secretary Johnson has chosen common sense over the Obama Administration's foolish plan, but this should never have been a hard decision to make. Given the ongoing terrorist activity in Libya, there is no reason that the Obama Administration should have ever contemplated lifting a decades-old ban on Libyans coming to our country to train as pilots or nuclear scientists. The fact is that Libya's government remains unstable today and the country is becoming more dangerous as rival rebel groups battle each other for control of Libya's cities. It's necessary that we keep this ban on Libyans in place so that we protect Americans and our national security from threats in Libya. Despite assurances from Secretary Johnson that he won't lift this ban any time soon, the House plans to move forward with legislation to prevent future Administrations from changing this policy."
Last week, the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), which represents 51,000 pilots who fly for 31 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, expressed concern about the Obama Administration lifting this regulation from the books. In their letter to Chairman Goodlatte, Captain Lee Moak notes the dangerous conditions in Libya and states that "given the political instability in Libya and the transitory nature of the government, ALPA is concerned that information relevant to a background check on Libyan nationals would be unreliable if not entirely unavailable."