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Dear Editor:
I would like to applaud your chutzpah in calling for the repeal of 214(b). Recently, I was in attendance at an AILA meeting where a high level DOS official spoke about visa issuance procedures in the post 9/11 world. He emphasized that the number #1 priority was security and there were no #2 and #3 priorities. And, yet, 10 minutes later, he was villifying the stereotypical would-be "economic migrant" - the 22 -year-old single male or female with little or no resources. Hey, but I thought there was no #2 or #3 priority. Someone suggested that 9/11 happened because of the State Dept. bias toward the wealthy, and I believe this is true. Young single males with large bank accounts and VIP patronage could always get visas, and as we all know, some of the sponsors of terrorism are very well-connected individuals/organizations. So, isn't it high time that we worried less about the would-be economic migrants, who do not threaten our national security, but rather bolster our economy, and focus more serious attention on targeting those with adverse criminal records and ominous connections?

Later in the session I told a personal story about the denial of a tourist visa to my sister-in-law at a consulate in S. America. This woman did not fit the profile of the economic migrant. She was 37, married, mother of 3, with a job (albeit low end) and a house (albeit modest). I had submitted an affidavit of support, which the consular officer threw in the garbage, saying that the burden of proof was on her; they were not interested in my offer of support - even though she was only coming for a 3-week visit at my expense. The officer also discarded her children's birth certificates because she said that Latin American women often abandon their children to go work in the US. The marriage was given short shrift and the officer said she didn't make enough money on her job. I asked the high-ranking DOS official what he had to say about this case, and he was speechless. He kept emphasizing how easy it is in some countries to fabricate documents. Yes, but doesn't that hold true even more for the wealthy? For example, my sister-in-law told me she was sure that if she had paid $2,000 to one of the "travel agents" milling around outside the consulate, she would have had her visa no questions asked. I am sure too. Ironically, for the person of modest means, telling the truth and presenting bonafide documents is rarely rewarded - hence the incentive to fabricate acceptable ones - just to be able to visit the sibling you may not have seen for 10 years, or attend the birth of your grandchild. These folks are often damned if they do and damned if they don't, and they are the only people 214(b) is keeping out.

In defense of consular officers, I will say that it is difficult to impossible to determine the true intent of a person applying for a visa regardless of the documentation presented, but unless we want to put a moratorium on admissions, we have to establish certain documentary guidelines and stand by them. Let's face it, though, smart terrorists and other evildoers can work around almost any impediments we come up with, and in the end, we really cannot blame consular officers for not detecting that which is virtually undetectable.

What we really need to do as a nation is to separate our issues. As the editor said, the issue of protecting US workers is totally separate and distinct from that of guarding our national security. A successful approach to the former, will inevitably fail to achieve the latter. Perhaps there is no workable solution, but the gurus in Washignton would not like to hear that.

Name Withheld Upon Request



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