It helps those of us who might be considered “experts” in Washington, DC to get out once in a while. there is a need to see the real world and talk to real people. I was able to interact with both “non-Beltway” Americans in a recent trek through the Pacific Northwest. Despite the difficulties in the world, we have much to be grateful for, and friendly partner to the north (Canada) is one the United States should never take for granted.
Immigration and Visa Policy
September 19th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
May 24th, 2012 - by Janice Kephart
Earlier this month, I testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement on “The Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act of 2011.” My testimony makes clear that while tourism is a valid goal, it cannot be done in an atmosphere where immigration law is not being enforced domestically, visa processing becomes a rubber stamping process, and the countries targeted have some of the highest overstay populations in the United States.
President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who is in Washington for a two-day visit, announced yesterday that they would begin work on bringing Brazil into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The expansion of Brazilian tourism that would result would be a big economic boost for the United States. While security screening for the VWP is now as good or better than that for visa applicants, Congress remains reluctant to authorize an expansion of the program.
As the Obama administration continues to try to convince the American people they are securing the borders, their most recent budget request makes clear that “Amnesty by Any Means” remains the consistent mission. The latest installment is buried in the president’s homeland security budget, which includes provisions dotted throughout that, put together, would result in the dismantling of arguably the best border-related program that exists in federal government, US-VISIT, burying its capabilities in two of the most politicized of all government agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.
It has taken almost a decade for a post 9/11-version of a secure Trusted Traveler program to become official, but Monday’s publication of the final rule establishing Global Entry as an official program marks a signal achievement for DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). With over 300,000 applications in place, over 1.8 million individual trips handled, and over tens of thousands of CBP man and woman-hours saved, Global Entry deserves the praise it got from the President on his visit to Disney last month. Global Entry is not only a good idea – it is an essential part of CBP’s strategy to handle increased traffic flows in an era of tight budgets.
January 26th, 2012 - by Edward Alden
The U.S. visa system is still not effectively focusing resources on those who pose a threat to our country. More than a decade after 9/11, foreign tourists, business travelers, students, and temporary workers presenting low security risks face the same cumbersome and unpredictable procedural hurdles as high-risk applicants. Despite commendable efforts by the State Department to speed up visa issuance, only modest progress has been made in translating the tremendous technological advances in homeland security to the visa system to ensure that accurate determinations are made in a timely manner.
January 5th, 2012 - by Edward Alden
US-VISIT gave its 8th annual briefing on Thursday, and the progress there continues to be impressive. While the advances in biometrics raise some delicate privacy questions, the United States is getting ever closer to creating a system in which it will be more or less impossible to lie one’s way into this country through the legal ports of entry. And more and more countries – sixty-one at last count – are going down the same road of using biometrics for border control.
December 21st, 2011 - by Edward Alden
Newsweek asked me to do a piece looking at the current state of the political debate over border security. The request turned out to be well-timed, because it coincided with the release of the latest annual figures on the number of apprehensions at the border, which remains the best measure we have of how many people are trying to enter the United States illegally.Is the border secure yet? If not, it’s getting awfully close. Yet the political debate remains focused almost entirely on further ramping up border enforcement.
October 25th, 2011 - by Stewart Verdery
For almost four years, disagreements among federal agencies have impeded U.S. participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card (ABTC) program. The ABTC is meant to expedite the travel of business men and women in the Asia-Pacific region as international trade and travel has grown explosively. Today marks a huge milestone as the House of Representatives passed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards Act of 2011. It allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to issue ABTCs to qualified business executives at no cost to the Treasury or taxpayers.
Amid all of the partisan bickering over fiscal and tax policy in the Congress during 2011, it has been heartening to see a burst of bipartisan support for reforms to facilitate the travel of low-risk visitors to the United States. There have been at least three major pieces of authorizing legislation introduced in recent weeks as well as a push to reform the Departments of State and Homeland Security as part of the appropriations process. Encouraging and securing international travel does not lend itself to silver bullet solutions, but seeing the Congress increasingly recognize the economic value of travel is a positive development.
September 26th, 2011 - by Rich Cooper
Homeland security is a group effort, and immigration enforcement is a critical component. In working to keep terrorists and other criminals out of the United States, however, we must ensure that our immigration laws facilitate the arrival of hard-working people seeking a better, freer life. As a part of this ongoing dialogue about America’s immigration laws, on Wednesday, September 28, the National Chamber Foundation will host a half-day Business Horizon Series symposium, “Immigration & American Competitiveness: The Challenge Ahead,” featuring a keynote address from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
September 16th, 2011 - by Jeff Robertson
DHS Secretary Napolitano visits UW–Madison; launches new web site for international students and exchange visitors Today, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano deliver remarks at UW–Madison highlighting innovative ways to encourage the best and brightest international students and scholars to study and remain in the U.S. and launched a new government website (studyinthestates.dhs.gov) [...]
September 14th, 2011 - by Edward Alden
Some fifteen years after Congress first mandated the creation of an “entry-exit” system for foreign visitors, the government has finally come up with an effective solution. DHS told Congress yesterday that the administration had developed an “enhanced biographic” system that will go a long way to tackling the problem of visitors who overstay visas. The issue now is whether Congress will embrace a sensible approach or continue to insist on the utopian solution of a perfect biometric system.
Recently, the Center for Biological Diversity issued a press release criticizing DHS and the Border Patrol because their plan to “triple base size on Arizona-Mexico border puts endangered wildlife, fragile Lands at risk.” While I agree with the Center that Organ Pipe National Monument and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge are some of the most scenic and impressive landscapes on our southwest border, this area is also a haven for smugglers and others illegally crossing our open borders to violate our security, our safety and our rule of law.
September 2nd, 2011 - by Patrick Shen
As we approach the 10th anniversary of the attacks of “9/11,” we should take a look back over the past decade and see what strides we’ve made in the effort to make our border safer. In an positive development for the tourism industry and for frequent travelers across the Canada and Mexico border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced last week the latest new feature of the Global Entry Program. The program is an ingenious way to address both the needs of a 21st century economy and the concerns of national security.
Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton have been two of the nation’s most outstanding public servants, and the report of the 9/11 Commission was an extraordinary document. The two chairmen should be commended for their steady efforts, including the release yesterday of a 10th Anniversary Report Card under the auspices of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group. But among the group’s list of nine major unfinished recommendations, there is one that deserves to remain unfinished – the construction of a biometric exit system – and for good and sensible reasons.
The tedious process of watchlisting and making watchlists available to our frontline border and aviation operators is the most important tool our nation has to curtail attempted “legitimate” terrorist travel — meaning, those terrorists who seek to use our border and aviation system to enter the United States. The 9/11 Commission recommended significant changes to watchlisting, including merging 11 disparate watchlists into one base list. Today, this single list is simply termed the “Terrorist Watchlist.”
August 31st, 2011 - by Patrick Shen
The problem with an over-politicized environment in Washington is that we’ve lost the ability to build consensus and find common ground, even with people who hold views contrary to our own. The Center for Immigration Studies, with whom we business immigration lawyers usually disagree on immigration policy, published a paper this week entitled “Border Watchlisting a Decade after 9/11.” Among the proposals is to expand the “Electronic System for Travel Authorization.” We have to give credit where credit is due. Though we would love to disagree with CIS on issues in the future, CIS is right in that our screening needs to be more than a perfunctory exercise.
August 29th, 2011 - by Janice Kephart
Earlier this month, Cecelia Munoz, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and formerly of the National Council of La Raza, where she openly embraced amnesty for illegal aliens, announced a groundbreaking turn of events: for the first time ever, the White House is usurping congressional constitutional authority to determine immigration law and policy. Not only is the White House granting amnesty, but they are also making sure that immigration law only applies to those illegal aliens convicted of serious crimes.
August 29th, 2011 - by Patrick Shen
As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, those of us who practice immigration law, in particular business immigration law, have seen substantial shifts in immigration enforcement at the worksite. Reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities have sensitized employers to the need for strict employment eligibility verification. However, the employers often forget about another side to their compliance obligations – that of avoiding immigration-related unfair employment practices.