Despite improvements, the most important flaw in the visa filter still exists: the State Department remains in charge of issuing visas. State has a corporate culture of diplomacy, geared toward currying favor with foreign governments. In the context of visa issuance, this has fostered a “customer-service” approach, which sees the foreign visa applicant as the customer who needs to be satisfied. The attitude in management is summed up by the catchphrase of the former U. S.
consul general in Saudi Arabia: "People gotta have their visas! " (Mowbray, 2002) According to Philips and Susan Martin There were warnings of potential problems with terrorists abusing the immigration system before the September 11, 2001 attacks. For example, the National Commission on Terrorism in a 2000 report concluded that, “In spite of elaborate immigration laws and the efforts of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States is, de facto, a country of open borders.
” However, former INS General Counsel David Martin cautions that: “There isn't a magic bullet in overall immigration screening or monitoring in this country that provides an adequate response to a small group of very dedicated and clever people who want to commit terrorist acts. ” There are three major areas in which changes in immigration policies may be able to counter future terrorist threats: visa issuance and entry inspections, border controls, and interior enforcement.
The US may also have to pay special attention to foreign students, and consider harmonizing immigration and asylum policies with Canada in order to preserve a fairly open Canadian-US border. On the other hand, Griswold stressed that immigrants fill gaps in labor market, especially among both high and low-skilled occupations. During much of 1990s, the U. S. unemployment rate reached record lows during periods of relatively high immigration, that’s why it is self-destructive for the United States to reduce its immigrants to zero. Aside from that, immigrants offer a competitive advantage for the United States.
They are a source of human capital and commercial contact with the rest of the world. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has testified about the economic benefits of immigration. Former New York Mayor Giulliani has spoken many times about how immigrants have helped to revitalize New York City. The National Research Council found immigrants are a "significant positive gain" to U. S. economy of as much as $10 billion a year. The President's Council of Economic Advisers estimates the annual gain to be even higher, at $14 billion, and that's a gain we realize year after year.
Drastically reducing the number of foreigners who enter the United States each year would only compound the economic damage of September 11 while doing nothing to enhance our security. Whole sectors of the U. S. economy depend on foreign-born workers, high- and low-skilled alike, from Silicon Valley and Wall Street to hotels, restaurants, construction sites and farms. Foreign-born entries to the United States are down 24 percent from a year ago, turning the screw on the travel and tourism industries.
President Bush has not gone that far, but in his January 7 speech proposing an illegal alien amnesty and guest worker program, he claimed the federal government is now fulfilling its responsibility to control immigration, thus justifying a vast increase in the flow of newcomers to America. Exploring the role of immigration control in promoting American security can help provide the context to judge the president’s claim that his proposal is consistent with our security imperatives, and can help to sketch the outlines of a secure immigration system.
(Krikorian, 2004) Discussion of how to prevent terrorists from entering the US has focused primarily on the “front door:” the issuance of visas to foreigners abroad, and the inspection of foreign nationals at US ports of entry. Almost 10 million foreigners applied for visas to enter the US in 2000, and about 75 percent of visa applicants received visas. Some 1,100 consular officers, most young people at the start of their foreign service careers, deal with visa applications in more than 200 consulates and embassies worldwide.
Consular officers have only a limited time to review visa applications, limited access to law enforcement look-out databases, and no effective feedback on the results of their decisions, such as who returns from the US as required by the visa and who does not. Immigration inspectors at US ports of entry also have only a limited time to review documents, particularly at land ports of entry on the Canadian and Mexican borders. Unlike members of the Border Patrol and immigration investigators, immigration inspectors are not law enforcement officials and do not have access to some of the information in criminal databases.
However, improving the databases available to consular officers and immigration inspectors can not stop all terrorists. Most of the 31 million plus foreigners who enter the US temporarily each year do so without visas under reciprocal visa waiver policies that permit nationals of 29 countries to enter the US for up to 90 days without visas. When French or Japanese tourists or business visitors show up at US ports of entry, the inspector examines their passports, and they are routinely admitted. One of the hijackers was believed to be a recently naturalized French citizen who entered the US under the visa waiver program.
In addition, no visas are required of Canadians entering the US, and Mexicans living in the border region are admitted to the US with Border Crossing Cards that permit limited travel in the US. There are some 500 million crossings at the Canadian and Mexican borders each year, and inspectors generally process those arriving on foot or by car very quickly, especially during morning commutes. More careful inspections quickly lead to long lines, which interfere with tourism and commerce. (Martin and Martin, 2001)