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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

HOSTILE IMMIGRATION POLICIES LIKELY COST US OLYMPICS

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Should we really be surprised by this when border and consular officers too often treat would be visitors with extreme hostility? I'm a big Olympics fan and as a University of Chicago law grad, have an affinity for the town I lived in for three years. So believe me, today's news hit me triply hard - my country loses out on the greatest event in sports, one of my favorite cities won't get to show off to the world and the immigration policies that I've been griping about for years hurtus in a very painful and tangible way.

The Immigration Policy Center has a pertinent comment on this loss for our country:

Newspapers are reporting today that during the official Q&A session following the Chicago bid for the Olympic Games, I.O.C. member, Syed Shahid Ali, from Pakistan, asked President Obama how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Olympic Games because doing so can sometimes be "a rather harrowing experience."

While this I.O.C. member's concerns raise a red flag about the need for a change in our immigration policies, a litany of voices have been warning for years that the U.S. is slowly adopting an anti-visitor policy that is harming business, higher education and families. Stories in the press and report after report have all highlighted how our broken immigration system is hampering our nation's ability to attract the best and the brightest and stay competitive with other nations around the world.

While the I.O.C. questioned Brazil on combating crime, and Japan was chided for a lackluster proposal that led it to claim the country's plan was environmentally friendly, it's notable that the U.S. was pushed hardest on its immigration policies making it clear that our broken immigration system has officially become our Achilles' heel in the eyes of the world.

President Obama said at a recent White House gathering that he believes in comprehensive immigration reform and that it is on his agenda. However, this recent disappointment proves that immigration reform is not just a pressing domestic issue, but an international one as well. The President may say the U.S. is open for business, but our nation's actions have proved quite the opposite.

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Comments

  1. George Chell's Avatar
    Obama did not answer the question instead skirting around it..that probably came across as US arrogance and was the beginning of the end. I heard that some who were planning to vote for the US switched the votes.

    One of these days the US will come to its senses. This may be watershed olympic announcement. The chances of hosting future games have dimmed considerably. At least as of now Delhi and Cape Town are the frontrunners for 2020 and Seoul and Harbin, China are frontrunners for 2018 Winter Games. Dubai and Singapore may also compete to host the 2020 games.
  2. AJ's Avatar
    Now that's a very broad interpretation of the (albeit extremely accurate) remark by Sayed Ali. He was referring to the process of obtaining visitor visas for people who would like to attend the Olympic Games. That is a clear and tangible issue - we all know the harrowing experience of applying for a US visitor visa. Why would anyone outside the US want to hold the games here and then give themselves a 20% chance of actually making it to the games, with all the elaborate security checks, detention at the point-of-entry, and outright rejection of the visa?

    While the immigration system itself is broken (i.e. employment/ family based green-card applications and H1B visa system, illegal immigration etc.) I don't think too many people on the Olympic committee cared about that.
  3. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    AJ - I think the IPC was talking about the visitor visa system and not broader immigration problems. I certainly agree that the IOC could care less about work visas or legalization programs or border walls. But dealing with massive problems of visitor visa denials after people had successfully obtained tickets was something that is more than a remote possibility under current conditions.
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    US visa rejections mean that our tourism industry cannot take full advantage of the US dollar weakness and hence lack of job creation in a vital sector at a time of very high unemployment! But, what do consular officers care about other people being unemployed. They have secure jobs and good old boy's network with plenty of alcohol!
  5. USC's Avatar
    "I think the IPC was talking about the visitor visa system"

    If, I recall my history correctly the presumption that you are an immigrant was enacted in the 50's over Eisenhower's veto. A few years ago I saw a US Embassy visa section website attempt to justify this law by claiming that the US was a free country without internal controls or national ids and people once within the US were able to move about freely and work wherever they wanted.

    With the advent of eVerify and non-issuance of drivers licenses/social security numbers to even legal non-immigrants (I guess that, as defined, not by the ACLU but the USA, means we are no longer a free country) coupled with 3/10 year bars for overstaying, the presumption that you are an immigrant should be addressed by CIR.

    On a separate note, when I saw the headline "Three Americans Share 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine" I immediately wondered how many were candidates for Greg's Immigrant of the Day column; the answer it seem is 2 of 3!!

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/05/health/AP-EU-Nobel-Medicine.html?_r=1&hp

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2009/press.html

    Forum Jack: Do you want to comment on the phenomenon of so many immigrants ending up with the Nobel Prize? Also, do you believe that the law should be amended so that PhD's and persons with over $1,000,000 in liquid assets are granted immediate quota free immigrant visas to the US?
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Thanks USC. Your post taught me something as I was not aware of the origins of 214(b). As is often the case, once something works its way in to the Immigration and Nationality Act, it often remains only because no one gets around to ever re-evaluating the utility of the requirement. There are many such examples.
  7. George Chell's Avatar
    Section 214(b)is a neanderthal that was enacted in 1952 as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The 2007 legislation wanted to remove it for most student visas. However, the legislation was never passed. As it stands now, it is the most anti-US economy tool in the arsenal. Section 214(b) will scuttle any sharp V shaped recovery as the tourism industry in this country will not be able to take advantage of the loads of money in the hands of some Chinese citizens. It has outlived its usefullness and should go in most cases.
  8. George Chell's Avatar
    Jack believes in population control and this means stopping all immigrants. Of course, he will never answer my question as to why two most densely populated countries in the world with no resources do very well. Every economist from the loose cannon Roubini to the discredited Greenspan claim that unemployment will remain elevated in most OECD countries into next year. However, no one is answering the question as to why unemployment is declining in China, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and UAE among others. That is because jobs eliminated in countries such as US are being moved to countries such as Singapore and Australia and this process will continue well into next year unless something is done to fix our immigration system including doing away with Section 214(b) in most cases.
  9. dave smith's Avatar
    How embarrassing. I completely agree with George Chell's comment about the 214b. I wonder how much of this could be addressed just by changing policy without changing the law itself? Not only does the broken US immigration system affect people who want to travel to the US, it also affects people who only want to transit through US airports. People are being denied C-1 visas based on 214b, even though their destination is not the US. This hurts the competetiveness of US airlines and isolates our neighbors that must (for now) rely on those airlines. Whatever happened to the US transit without visa program?
  10. green card visa's Avatar
    It's a shame that the US is still in the dark ages when it comes to immigration policy. I think it comes down to xenophobia at the heart of the issue, which takes generations to erase, as well as real leadership from those in office.
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