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      Obama Proposes Streamlined Visa Process To Accelerate Tourism

      In a bid to steal the thunder from the Florida Republican primary, Barack Obama unveiled his tourism stimulus for the Sunshine State.
      By Amiel Ungar
      First Publish: 1/23/2012, 12:13 AM

      Florida is considered a battleground state between the Republican and Democratic presidential nominee, as it was in 2000 and 2004. Therefore. as the Republicans prepared to move their primary roadshow to the Sunshine State in advance of the January 31 primary, president Barack Obama was looking for a way to upstage them.

      A mainstay of the Florida economy is tourism (the same applies to another contested state - Nevada). Speaking in Disneyland. Barack Obama proposed both a streamlining of the visa system and an expansion of the visa waivers that are currently a perk of Western European countries.

      The new program is targeted at tourists from China, Brazil and India as these three BRICS countries (the others are Russia and South Africa) have taken off industrially and have witnessed the creation of a sizable and affluent middle class.

      With wealth comes the desire to travel and Obama wants the tourist revenues to come to America "I want America to be the top tourist destination in the world," Obama said. "The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. It is that simple."

      The US has lost tourism revenue in the past decade, with part of the problem has been the tightened security since 9/11. The administration believes that job creation now takes precedence over security considerations.

      The anti-illegal immigration organization, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has already taken issue with the new policy. FAIR believes that the relaxation of the visa policy poses security risks and increases the potential of people overstaying their visas.

      The organization accused the president of ignoring these risks in order to boost his dwindling popularity in Florida. In the 2008 elections, many of the retired Jews in Florida voted for Obama, but that is less certain now.