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. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) in introducing the Protecting America from Spies Act, a bill 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.
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.
U.S. Representative Vicky Hartler (R-MO) introduced companion legislation in the House.
“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,” Rubio said. 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.”
“For too long China and our competitors have been using non-traditional forms of espionage against our country without any consequences,” Cruz said. 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.”
“The active espionage efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to steal intellectual property is unacceptable,” Tillis said. This legislation will serve to both punish and deter additional efforts to undermine American leadership through intellectual property theft.”
“The theft and espionage of American technology, intellectual property and research threatens the safety, security and economy of the United States,” Loeffler said. “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.”
Rubio is Co-Chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) as well as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.