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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

An Immigration Roundup

by Jose Latour

Top of the mornin' to you, folks! I am going to jump right in this week with my usual batch of bulleted items that have been on my mind:

  • As Misty reported on the 17th, Canadian Landed Immigrants are no longer able to enter the United States without a visa. Folks who reside permanently in Canada but have not yet obtained Canadian citizenship will now have to pay approximately $100 and wait up to two months for the process to take place. Those who are from special registration countries will have to undergo that process as well. Despite what many of you are thinking, this appears to have been in the works before Canada's decision to not play a role in the Iraq conflict. However, you can certainly bet that there will be no rush to undo this change in the wake of recent events.

    This isn't really a surprise in lieu of everything that has happened in recent months. With an increased focus on entry requirements by the United States and Canada's proclivity toward generous immigration benefits, U.S. immigration decision-makers have started to get a bit sensitive about our northern neighbor's willingness to admit some folks who possibly might not make it in through the typical U.S. immigrant visa process. Outraged Canadian politicians expressing disgust and anger over the treatment of Landed Immigrants in America in the wake of September 11 only served to incense those on Capitol Hill who had already been somewhat reluctant to allow entry to non-Canadian citizens without a visa. While this is not, I believe, in direct response to the Iraq situation, I believe this may be indicative of the kind of stuff we will see as immigration policies continue to tighten. I believe that what the Europeans will face in terms of tighter restrictions will make Canadian enforcement changes pale in comparison.

  • Speaking of eliminating visa-free entries: Remember last October's bombings in Bali, Indonesia? The terrorism, blamed on a Southeast Asian militant Muslim network, that killed 202 people has led that nation to eliminate the visa-free entry of nationals of a number of countries, including some of the nations that have the heaviest tourist presence there, such as Japan, Australia, and European nations.

    According to an Immigration Bureau spokesman, visa-free entry would only continue for 11 nations that give the same service to Indonesia, including Singapore and several other neighboring nations. Additionally, the maximum tourist stay has been cut from 60 days to 30. The United States can do much to learn from what has happened in Indonesia as a result of the terrorist events. In 2002, tourism provided some $5.4 billion in foreign currency to their economy, making it the second largest non-oil-and-gas foreign exchange contributor to the economy. Like the U.S. after September 11, tourism figures suggest a decline in international visitors based upon the terrorist events.

  • Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, sent a letter urging President Bush to award U.S. citizenship immediately to all immigrant troops serving in the Persian Gulf. The Cardinal was moved to write the letter just before celebrating a funeral mass for Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, a 27-year-old Guatemalan immigrant who had not yet become a U.S. citizen when he was among the first troops to be killed in battle as U.S. forces moved into southern Iraq on March 27. He was awarded U.S. citizenship posthumously.

    In the words of Cardinal Mahony:

    "Our present armed forces are made up of many fine men and women who are not yet fully naturalized citizens of our country, yet they heroically step forward to fight our nation's battles around the world."

    President Bush has already issued an executive order waiving the three-year requirement for physical presence in the United States before military personnel can seek U.S. citizenship. Cardinal Mahony's request goes further, conferring immediate citizenship to members of the armed forces who are serving in Iraq, and issuing it to all others when they are honorably discharged from U.S. military service. According to an April 9 New York Times article, over 36,000 U.S. military service members are not U.S. citizens, with most being Permanent Residents of the United States. The article cited four individuals, Gutierrez and three others born in Mexico, who have been killed in the war and were not U.S. citizens. It is certainly an honorable and intelligent suggestion on the part of Cardinal Mahony, and the President does, indeed, have the power to execute another executive order to convey this benefit upon the immigrant men and women who have been willing to place their lives at risk to advance the interests of the United States in Iraq.

    (Remember the suicide bomber pretending to be a taxi driver who detonated the car bomb at the Army roadblock on March 29? Among the other U.S. citizens killed was 19 year-old Diego Rincon, a Colombian-born soldier. Efforts to grant him posthumous U.S. citizenship should be realized in the coming days.)

  • Immigration advocates were recently pleased to hear U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock's decision to free two Pakistani men accused of links to terror organizations. Judge Babcock said that the FBI had failed to prove that Sajjad Nasser and Irfan Kamran were a threat to the community. The men were before the U.S. District Court Judge after a Federal Magistrate had recently decided to grant bail to the men. Babcock set bail at $30,000 for Kamran and $100,000 for Nasser, as well as other conditions including electronic monitoring. Both men and four members of their extended family are charged with lying to immigration authorities, and the FBI has testified that the men have expressed interest in fighting a holy war against the United States. FBI Agent Michael Castro testified in court that Nasser attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and that Rashid (another defendant) and a relative were awaiting orders to attack U.S. citizens in Colorado.

    My take: in this climate of enhanced enforcement and Ashcroft's aggressive disregard of fundamental civil liberty, it is nice to see that federal judges are keeping rules of criminal procedure in mind, notwithstanding the fact that they are dealing with individuals accused of potentially volatile issues. It seems that it has gotten to the point that fundamental liberties in the country can often be swept aside when accusations of terror crimes are raised, and this was an important reminder that, yes, our criminal justice system still can work as it is supposed to.

About The Author

Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice representing corporations nationwide in visa management, compliance, and HR training. The above represents Mr. Latour's Editorial opinion. The A/V rated firm and its web site,, were named a winner of the 2002 Inc. Magazine Web Award, receiving recognition along with 14 other companies as the best Web companies in America. In 1999, the firm was named "One of America’s Top Ten Internet/Virtual Companies" in the Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems "Growing with Technology Awards." The site is one of the most visited and widely read resource on the Internet on U.S. immigration law, attracting subscribers from all over the world, the media and from within the U.S. government. Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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