Tuesday, September 12, 2006

USCIS, The State Department, And You

Ah, bless it, another gem from the U.S. State Department (it's so hard to remember which government entity I like least, State or Homeland Security - where does USCIS fall? ICE? Who can track anymore?) as reported in the SF Chron:

Mohammad Ramadan Hassan Salama's troubles began in June, when he arrived in Canada for what he thought was a two-day stay to change his temporary scholar visa, which was due to expire. He planned to exchange it at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto for the more coveted O-1 visa, granted only to those with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. By law, he had to go outside the country to get the visa.

But the Egyptian-born academic got a rude awakening June 20 when a consular official, without explanation, stamped "canceled'' on his temporary visa and refused to issue another visa. Instead, Salama said, he was fingerprinted, questioned and told he could not return to the United States until he received security clearance.
Poor chap. Someone should have warned him that the whole "oh just do this" way of dealing with immigration policy went out the window years ago. He calls it "Kafkaesque" which sounds accurate. Officials felt no need to worry themselves with his American wife and kids, his PhD, his job, etc.

Here's Kafkaesque for you, though. Or if not Kafkaesque, it's something incredible-esque:

Janelle Hironimus, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said she could not comment on individual cases. "The administrative process can take quite some time, so it is not something that we have control over," she said.
Okay, let's parse this. The administrative process - that'd be the process created and implemented by an administrative agency, here the United States Department of State - can take quite some time, so it is not something we have control over. So it is not something you have control over. You mean, because you are an administrative agency and you've made an administrative process that is time consuming, therefore you have no control over it?

Who, pray tell, does?

And thus we return to the very heart of my problems with the United States government, the administration's elegantly crafted culture of fear, and the fully embraced new ethic of refusing any and all available responsibility - allowing discretion to become its own perverse mandate: no one is in charge here.

A good friend working on Capitol Hill faithfully pursued yet another line of inquiry on my continuing immigration issues (okay, not mine, but he's mine, they are his problems, therefore, they are my problems) - this time with the Consul General's office.

The response was the same information we've received from Embassy officials and high-price London-based attorneys. Wait a few years, show 'em what they want to see, hope for the best.

The email from the Consul General's peeps said that "typically" holiday visas will be issued on a showing of sufficient contacts with one's home country that are demostrated in a number of typical ways - job, spouse, family, assets, property ownership, etc.

Typically.

Typically.

Right, typically you bastards. You have the discretion to issue a visa with all this information in front of you that clearly satisfies the 3 pillars of keep-'em-out policy: the foreigner will not be a tax on public assets, will not take a job from an American, and presents no threat to national security.

So, please, federal government, stop telling us that you have no control over time lines or imply that you can't do something. Grow a pair and start being honest saying "sure we could do this, but we won't. We don't have to, so we just won't. Bummer for you." At least then there'd be some truth coming from administrative agencies which would be a refreshing change of pace and a comforting bit of September 10, 2001 nostalgia.

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