The Biden administration has put a limit on visas for travelers from Hungary, citing security risks. The visa waiver program for the US, in which Hungary participated, has now been limited. The US said that the change is due to "Hungary's decision not to fully address the security vulnerabilities created by its earlier implementation of its simplified naturalisation process." Hungary stated otherwise.
The program, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, "is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program."
Under the new restrictions, those who use the system will only be allowed entry to the US once, though the normal guidelines allow for multiple entries for up to 90 days without the entrant having obtained a visa, the BBC reports. The US said that they had undertaken "extensive efforts over many years" to resolve the issues with Hungary's passports, which the US says are issued with the applicants being adequately vetted.
However, a statement from the Budapest-based Center for Fundamental Rights gives a different perspective on the Biden administration's implementation of these restrictions. In their view, the punitive measure against Hungarian passport holders has less to do with security and more to do with ideology.
"While the Biden administration is unwilling or unable to address the border security crisis at home," the Center for Fundamental Rights told Human Events, "it is once again punishing Hungary, a NATO ally, for its opposition to gender ideology, transgender 'rights,' and illegal migration. Despite millions of people crossing the US Southern border illegally, including drug cartels, the Democrat administration announced this morning that it is limiting visa waivers for Hungarians, citing 'security concerns.' In addition to an earlier decision to terminate a tax treaty between the US and Hungary, the Biden administration is now taking another politically motivated action to punish Hungarians for not embracing a progressive liberal agenda. These actions are alienating a NATO ally instead of bringing us together. It is the responsibility of Hungarian and US conservatives to maintain a strong and positive relationship between the two countries."
A memo from USAID said at the time that young people "have the power to advance positive change through their energy, capacity to innovate, and willingness to work across traditional divisions." Funding from the US in Hungary has had a social component, with programs that tackle "challenges such as the integration of the Roma population and the sustainability of civil society organizations and partnerships that share Hungary’s transition experience throughout the region," the US Embassy website states.
The US stated their plans to spend $20 million to "bolster civil society" in Hungary to "help independent media thrive and reach new audiences," and to help empower "local groups trying to make change."
Neither Hungary nor Orban have been receptive to these efforts.