Does the symbol of the Statue of Liberty still represent the attitude of the U.S. government regarding immigration? The philosophy, "Give me your tired, your homeless" suggesting that America is a land of opportunity welcoming all may be out of date. Indeed, immigration policy is supposed to be a policy designed to integrate good people who can benefit the USA, into our national family.
But in recent years that policy has changed, to one of fear of outsiders, and expulsion of many already in the USA. The policies of the USA have impacted people throughout the globe. John Ashcroft recently resigned his position as Attorney General and many people saw his immigration policies as being the most restrictive that the United States has seen.
Current policies are hurting the U.S. economy in many ways. As U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall told me: "Much of what we see today is an over reaction to 9/11. It will take time for this to balance out." Many influential people in Congress and on the "Hill" believe it may be time for the U.S. government to review immigration policy, to bring a more flexible and reasonable policy back into play.
EXAMPLES OF IMMIGRATION PROBLEMS
- Businessmen report that it has become more difficult to travel internationally, because foreign U.S. Embassies have become far more restrictive in issuing B-1 business visas for foreign born businessmen. This hurts commerce.
- Universities report that enrollment from foreign students is down 38% in the United States. This is countered by significant increases in foreign student enrollment in Germany, France, Great Britain, and even Canada. Industry sources consider this a "brain drain" that will hurt U.S. ability to compete in the future decade of high technology.
- Special interest groups, who have long had favorable treatment by the United States, such as Tibetans, Mongolians, Taiwanese, South Koreans and South Africans, report that more people are being denied Visas. Observers say that this is counter intuitive, because no member of any of these groups has ever created a "threat" to the United States.
- Companies that have offices throughout the world are finding it difficult to transfer company employees and executives to the USA. Some report that when their foreign born officers go home for visits that they have difficulty returning to their jobs in the USA. This increases the costs of doing business.
- People have come to be desperate to break the barriers to immigration. Some of the stories are tragic. Yesterday I got an email from a political official in Ecuador, who told me of the "Constant problem of Ecuadorian citizens giving all of their money, trying to get into the USA, and disappearing, only to be found dead in boats, containers, and trucks." This official had just met with a family who had lost their son. The young boy left for America (the land of opportunity) and just "disappeared". His family was desperate and horrified about their son's fate.
We know that 99.99% of the people being denied entrance to the USA are individuals who can contribute to our society in small ways. Many can contribute substantially to the United States. Experience shows that immigration consistently has contributed to our culture and economy. It is time to re think U.S. policy.
ADVICE FROM IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS
We interviewed several immigration attorneys in the USA for their perspective of how potential immigrants or companies can best work within the current environment.
BE THOROUGH: Jim Xu, Managing Partner of Liu and Xu, P.C. (immigration attorney in Chicago, Illinois (phone 312-236-0068) told us: "When applying to the INS, it is important that your files, applications, and documentation be thorough. If you leave something blank, the case officer may use this to deny your application." It is the responsibility of the immigration attorney to check all documents to be sure they are correct and complete.
SUPPORT ARGUMENTS: Ollie Jefferson, the leading immigration attorney of Arlington, Texas (817-261-8700) told us: "The philosophy and attitude of some immigration case workers is not to help people, but to find reasons to deny their entry into the U.S.A." She reports that many recent cases since 9/11 that were thorough, and complete, were returned by the I.N.S. stamped "DENIED", sometimes for minor or technical reasons. It is the applicant's responsibility to assure that enough support and back up documents are in place to "make the case".
HAVE AN ORGANIZED "BATTLE PLAN": Ann Badmus, prominent immigration attorney in Dallas, Texas (Badmus Immigration Law Firm, P.C. 469-916-7900) made several good points. She says: "Under today's atmosphere of Homeland Security, any foreign national who applies for a temporary visa or permanent residence in the U.S. must understand that the government's first concern is national security. That means the government will scrutinize every application for criminal or potential terrorist activity. As a result, many applications will take longer to process so patience is necessary. Secondly, the government is very strict about its complicated rules. You must follow them to the letter if you want a visa. Don't take anyone seriously who claims they can get around the rules. That's a prescription for trouble. Finally, educate yourself about the American immigration system. Remember, immigration rumors are rampant, often spread by news reporters who don't really understand or communicate well our immigration law. Take rampant immigration rumors with a grain of salt and get clarification. Your best source of the right information is from a lawyer who is trained and experienced in the complexities of immigration law."
One of the foundation principals of the United States has been that by being "inclusive" that our nation benefits. We have seen the United States grow, and excel, because of the outstanding talent and energy released by the ordinary immigrants who found that "freedom" invigorated them, and unleashed enormous talent and creativity. The USA shouldn't be a nation ruled by fear, with walls, guns, and guards, like the old Soviet Union, to be so would only suppress our nation and its people. Let us again remember the Statue of Liberty, and what our nation symbolizes in the eyes of the world.