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Sen. Cruz, Colleagues Introduce Protecting America from Spies Act

Legislation would prevent individuals who attempt to spy or steal from the U.S. from obtaining a visa to enter the country

July 28, 2020

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202-228-7561

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the State Department’s decision to close the Chinese Consulate in Houston in response to evidence of espionage and intellectual property theft, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today introduced the Protecting America from Spies Act, legislation that would allow the Department of State to deny visas to individuals who have committed acts of espionage or intellectual property theft against the United States. U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) filed the companion legislation in the House.

Under current law, the Chinese Communist Party’s spies expelled from the U.S. have the ability to immediately reapply for visas. The Protecting America from Spies Act would update the Immigration and Naturalization Act to ensure past, present, and future espionage and tech-transfer activity is considered inadmissible for entry into the United States. It also:

  • Makes spouses and children of aliens engaged in espionage or tech-transfer inadmissible if the activity making them inadmissible occurred within the past five years.
  • Allows the State Department to waive these restrictions if necessary, such as to fulfill U.S. obligations under the UN Headquarters Agreement.

Upon introducing the Protecting America from Spies Act, Sen. Cruz said:

“For too long China and our competitors have been using non-traditional forms of espionage against our country without any consequences. The State Department’s recent closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston due to the Communist Chinese Party actively engaging in espionage and intellectual property theft was an important step, but more needs to be done. That’s why today my colleagues and I are introducing legislation to strengthen our laws and protect our national security by ensuring that any individuals who attempt to spy or steal from the United States and their family members are denied access to our country.”

Rep. Hartzler said:

“It is past time to stop known spies from China coming back into our country. Current laws only allow individuals to be denied entry if the consular officer has knowledge of future espionage plans. Our country needs to be protected so known bad actors are not allowed to steal from us again. I thank my House colleagues for joining me in this effort, and Senators Cruz, Rubio, Tillis, and Loeffler for introducing the Senate companion bill.”

Sen. Tillis said:

“The active espionage efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to steal intellectual property is unacceptable. This legislation will serve to both punish and deter additional efforts to undermine American leadership through intellectual property theft.”

Sen. Loeffler said:

“The theft and espionage of American technology, intellectual property and research threatens the safety, security and economy of the United States. As the Chinese Communist Party strives to expand its reach, this legislation takes an essential step to protect our national interests and ensure those who seek to undermine us are not allowed into the United States.”

Sen. Rubio added:

“Last week, a Chinese consulate in Houston was closed after serving as a central node in the Chinese Communist Party’s spying operations that sought to undermine our security and democracy. The U.S. must take every measure to ensure our nation is safe and secure. I’m proud to join this bicameral effort to update our immigration laws to deny those who engage in foreign espionage, including the theft of our intellectual property, and their families, from entering our country.”

The full text of the legislation may be viewed here.

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