An Immigration Roundup
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
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.
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
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, www.usvisanews.com, 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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