Most of the people who believe, as I do, that Barack Obama is the worst imaginable president for immigration (except for his opponent - but this is a subject for another comment), focus on the president's duplicitous approach toward granting relief from deportation to unauthorized immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic.
True to the "Now you see it - now you don't" tricks of magicians down through the ages, the president suddenly revealed "Prosecutorial Discretion" for relief from deportation in June, 2011, only to make it disappear in all except a few token cases. Now he is doing the same with "Deferred Action" for DREAMers. In this case, the show has been announced and is ready for the public to see. It is just the opening day that has been postponed - until when?
But to appreciate the full extent of this administration's hostility and paranoia toward immigrants, one has to look at its treatment of immigrants who, in any sane system, would be among the most desirable of all - namely those in the EB-1 extraordinary ability category.
One of my own clients is among India's leading cancer researchers. He is also the president of one of India's most prestigious medical and scientific research organizations, and the author of over 100 published articles in international scientific publications, which have been cited some 400 times by other researchers. He is also an editor or reviewer for a number of the leading publications in his particular field, and has made important original contributions to the diagnosis and prevention of the form of cancer in which he specializes, which have been recognized by other leading experts in and outside of the US.
His research has demonstrated the potential to save thousands, if not millions, of lives. Moreover, his accomplishments are not secrets hidden in the depths of an obscure lab off in some unknown place, but are all a matter of public record, independently attested to in published materials by other leading scientists internationally.
It only took the USCIS a few days to approve his extraordinary ability petition. But when he and his family appeared for their immigrant visa interviews at the US embassy in New Delhi, even though his entire file, consisting of well over a hundred pages of supporting documents, was clearly visible on the interviewing visa officer's desk, the interviewing officer said that more information would be required, and that processing would take about 8 weeks from the time he replied.
My client was then given a letter asking for information about his proposed "visit" to the US, including, among other things, an "itinerary", even though this was an application to become a permanent resident, not a visitor. The letter also asked him to repeat biographical details which were already in the officer's file.
My client responded promptly, fully and courteously. He also politely pointed out that he was applying for an immigrant visa, not a visitor's visa. In return, he received an email thanking him for responding to the "non-immigrant" visa section (!). Subsequent inquiries produced responses to the effect that the case had been set down for "advance processing" (also known as "administrative processing") and that therefore no estimated time period for completion could be given.
Administrative processing is an ubiquitous star chamber procedure which could mean anything from a routine security check to the application's having fallen into a black hole. Nevertheless, the client waited until the 8 - week processing period he had been told about by the interviewing officer was almost up, and then he put in another inquiry. (I had also inquired separately myself).
In response, he received a notice that his visa application was being held pending the embassy's attempt to verify some of the (unspecified) information contained in his application.
At first glance, this appeared quite curious. What kind of information did the embassy need to verify? That the applicant was indeed the president of a leading scientific research organization? That he had in fact authored over 100 scientific articles, a complete list of which, and a number of extracts from, were sitting in the file on the interviewing officer's desk?
Or, perhaps, was the US embassy conducting its own independent scientific inquiry to make sure that cancer is indeed a dangerous disease? Or, possibly, does the embassy possess the expertise to second-guess both the applicant and USCIS as to the value and importance of his scientific research, and its potential to save lives?
Some Internet research appears to have cleared up the mystery. It seems that this latest letter was just the newest form of boiler plate that is being issued to many other visa applicants, no matter what type of visas they are applying for. But while the boiler-plate may change, the hostility of this administration toward the most qualified immigrants of all has evidently not.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.