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Thursday, June 05, 2003


A Perfect Issue for Dean?

posted by G at Thursday, June 05, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
I have not previously exploited my posting privileges on this site to push the campaign to encourage Dean to take a stand on a particular issue. Now I've found a case that seems to me to be just irresistible, and I'd like to hear everyone's opinions. From the Washington Post on Saturday:
The State Department has ordered Foreign Service officers in many nations to begin face-to-face interviews with millions of visa applicants who previously have not merited such scrutiny, a step that will result in months-long backlogs, according to officials and documents.

The rules, formally issued in a cable sent to 221 embassies and consulates Wednesday, have prompted strong objections from business, education and tourism groups. The groups say that longer delays in obtaining visas will discourage foreign nationals from visiting the United States at a time when the economy is still struggling.

The heightened scrutiny will be applied to about 90 percent of visa applicants from countries in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, with general exceptions for diplomats and people 16 and younger or 60 and older. The rules will not affect citizens of Canada and 27 other countries -- most of them in Europe -- who are not required to obtain U.S. business or tourist visas, and who make up about half of the 35 million people who visit the United States each year.
"This is probably going to add a lot more time to the process and could bog the system down very seriously," said Randy Johnson, vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "These are businessmen coming in to make deals with American businessmen, as well as workers coming in to help our economy. . . . If it's going to take six months or more to get a visa, why would anyone bother?"
But many in U.S. diplomatic circles strongly opposed the new rules, in part because applicants already must wait three months or more for visas in many locations. The cable announcing the policy change warned that the additional interviews must be handled "using existing resources" and without offering overtime hours to employees.
But many Foreign Service officers complain that they are already overburdened by their workload. Some fear that increasing interviews will only increase the chances of mistakes.
Business and tourism leaders said that while they applaud the goal of improved security, the State Department could cause serious economic damage if it does not provide sufficient staff to handle demand. Higher education groups have expressed alarm that the rules could reduce travel by instructors and students from overseas.
This meshes perfectly with themes Dean has already articulated. Bush is failing to fund a new homeland security initiative, in a manner that will plunge the economy further into the toilet, decrease international educational exchange, and further inflame the attitudes of people around the world towards the United States. Don't you think they could have spared a few million from that tax cut to increase overtime hours at embassies to handle this?

Plus, it appears that large groups--business, education, and tourism--are firmly against it. Could you find a better issue for Dean?


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.