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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

WILL OLYMPICS DENIAL BE THE FINAL STRAW?

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I've often blogged about high profile individuals denied entry to the US - reporters, movie stars, scientists coming for conferences, etc. But it's not so easy to cover the everyday humiliations faced by would be tourists at consulates around the world and airports throughout the US. Perhaps the Pakistani IOC official who grilled President Obama on why Olympic officials should not trust the President's promise of a friendly welcome actually did this country a favor. Most Americans are not even aware of just how unfriendly US immigration officials are to people who want to spend billions of dollars in our country and spread the word in their home countries regarding how wonderful a country the US is. Perhaps now they will begin waking up to this problem and members of Congress from states that depend on tourism will start asking tough questions of Secretary Clinton (she's in charge of US consulates abroad) and Secretary Napolitano (she's in charge of CBP officials at our airports) about what they intend to do to repair the massive damage to our tourist industry as a result of the hostile culture that has developed at these two agencies.

We can't just blame 9/11 for this. The problems were developing for many years and 9/11 just provided additional cover for those who were so inclined to be abusive in their daily interaction with would be visitors. For many, the bad experience with a US consular officer or a CBP official at an airport will be their only interaction with a representative of the US. And that negative experience can come back to haunt us as we've just seen. I wonder how many IOC officials have had unpleasant experiences coming in to the US? I'll be a few people cast no votes with a smile on their faces as they paid back a surly US consular or airport official for an experience they or a friend or family member faced. 

The New York Times asks the question of whether our immigration officials costs us the Games. And this issue is a hot discussion topic on blogs all over the Internet. Here is one example and another.

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Comments

  1. Adi's Avatar
    Azim Premji (chairman/owner of Billion dollar Wipro Corp) was frisked at airport and grilled for hours. Indian Ex-president Abdul Kalam was frisked at Indian airport by continental airlines in the name of SOP as requirement of FAA. Shahrukh Khan, famous Indian actor was recently grilled on airport for hours. These are just recent high profile examples which serve my memory. Just imagine the ordeal of daily common passengers to get through to enter US.
  2. Another voice's Avatar
    I don't think there will be a lesson learned here, the culture of the government agency has to change to a more customer service oriented agency and that is hard to do in these large bureaucracies.
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    First they need to streamline the immigration bureaucracy. Six different agencies are involved in immigration. US is the only country in the world where the State Department gives visas, and once you are in the country, DHS takes over, and of course, labor, ag, interior and one other agency is involved. We need to abolish state department consular post and give DHS the sole authority to adjudicate. If necessary all consular officers should be moved to DHS. Congress needs to give specific direction, so that there is no ambiguity. The biggest problem is Section 214(b) and it needs to be abolished for most cases. Section 214(b) is harming the US economy...end of story. It is supported by racists at FAIR, CIS and elsewhere. All fine if we are creditor country..we are not..we are the world's largest debtor. Are we waiting until China pulls the plug on our debt? Beggars cannot be choosers. If we want to take advantage of the low US dollar we need to rein in the US consular officers in places such as China, Georgia, Armenia and other countries where there is really no security risk to the US..otherwise lookout for higher unemployment as jobs move abroad and as fewer tourists come here.
  4. Jim's Avatar
    "Just imagine the ordeal of daily common passengers to get through to enter US."

    Common passengers cry during consular interviews and after they find out they have been denied for the visitor visa. Some are outright embarrassed at the port of entries.

    Children who wants to visit an ill or dying parent and vice-versa in the US also finds it hard to get a visitor's visa.

    Yes, you are right. The experiences of common passengers are much, much horrific.
  5. LFWF's Avatar

    Three "Americans" win Nobels for Medicine

    (Food for thought?)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/science/06nobel.html?_r=1&hp

    Though Americans have once again made a clean sweep of the Nobel medicine prize, two of the three winners are immigrants. Dr. Blackburn was born in Tasmania, Australia, and has dual citizenship; Dr. Szostak was born in London. Dr. Blackburn came to the United States in the 1970s because it was "notably attractive" as a place to do science.


    Despite ups and downs in recent years, America is still a magnet for foreign scientists, she said, "but one shouldn't take that for granted."

    Dr. Szostak said the world was now more competitive in terms of scientific research. "So maybe we have to work a little harder to attract people from around the world and make sure they stay here," he said.
  6. Jim's Avatar
    What are the expensive e-passports being shoved to everyone is for anyway? I believe, there are now more or less about 70 countries that are e-passport compliant. Your digital pictures and fingerprints are already embedded on those contact-less smart chips. If I'm not mistaken, even retinal or iris scans in a few. Your bio-data and biometrics are probably on an international pool/directory already and your names are forwarded already well in advance of time of travel so someone can check up on you.

    What are those for? Shouldn't citizens from other countries carrying an e-passport be welcomed already or at least will find it easier to travel to the US or anywhere in the world they want. In theory, with all those multiple checkups and multi layer of security the immigration officer at the port of entry would just have to be doing the physical/in-person final check-up. No questions asked and needed.

    How about expanding the US visa waiver program to more countries that are e-passport compliant.

    Maybe, create a tier 2 batch of countries that will be only given 15-30 days compared to the usual 3 months valid stay w/o a visa and then they get upgraded to more months base on "good behavior".

    Better yet, scrap the whole country thing. Make it individualized because it's unfair that all the citizens of a whole country is penalized just because some of their country-men abused the system in the past. It's not like some visa waiver countries cannot abuse it. They can't adjust their status alright but then they can always over-stay and never go back home either. Having a lighter skin or coming from a richer country does not mean they are not inclined to do it either.

    Sorry, for the rant. I just think every human being (terrorists aside) has the right to travel and see their planet. One doesn't have to be rich either to enjoy traveling.
  7. George Chell's Avatar
    The US will face severe consequences if it does not fix and streamline its immigration system.
  8. James's Avatar
    Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Monday evening that ICE stripped away his 287g authorization to investigate and detain people he suspects are living/working in the U.S. without authorization...

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawn-teo/toughest-sheriff-in-ameri_b_310314.html
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    Arapaio and Numbers USA are more interested in rounding up non-violent Hispanics (whether citizen) or not, instead of catching murderers who commit hate crimes...

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawn-teo/mixed-race-couple-confron_b_308842.html

    In fact, I think both Jenks of Numbers USA and Arapaio are likely looking the other way and encouraging this kind of behavior. Jenks and Arapaio are racists!
  10. Another voice's Avatar
    I'll bet you Arpio will continue and hide his actions behind State law...it will be an interesting legal dilemma. Technically he can't enforce federal law yet some State law allows him too even if the feds don't????
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