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Foreign criminals a growing problem in Southern California

Republican and Democratic congressional members are raising awareness of foreign criminals coming into Southern California to commit violent crimes.

Amid news that Chilean criminal gangs have been burglarizing homes in Orange County, officials are concerned about a particular visa program that allows Chilean nationals to come into the United States on 90-day visas without having to provide a criminal background check.

O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer says the program causes issues in court when someone is arrested and comes before a judge and they are unable to prove a criminal background, if any. If they are released on a lower bail or no bail at all, they usually don’t show up for future hearings.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy held a roundtable discussion in O.C. with law enforcement and lawmakers on Friday to address the rising crime and discuss concerns and potential changes to the visa waiver program.

Democratic Congressmen Lou Correa and Mike Levin of Southern California sent a letter to the Chilean ambassador expressing similar concerns over the program.

KTLA obtained a letter that the Chilean ambassador sent back to the congressional members addressing the concerns about the program while they have been in talks with Homeland Security over the program.

“Over the last few months, the government of Chile and the Department of Homeland Security have been negotiating an agreement that will strengthen the technical and human resources capacity of our police, in order to share with the United States in a timely manner the criminal record of ESTA applicants as well as issuing alerts on travelers to the United States,” the letter read.

In his response to the letter, Speaker McCarthy said, “My first reaction would be, ‘Let’s stop the visa waiver program until the agreement is solved.’ If 350,000 Chileans are coming to America every single year, we have a rise in crime, why wouldn’t we just stop that program until the agreement is reached? I imagine the agreement would be reached faster if the program would stop.”

KTLA has not been able to reach out to the Department of Homeland Security for further comment.


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