by Virginia Postrel • Jun 21, 2005 at 12:40 pm
Steve Forbes has tough words for the Bush administration's post-9/11 visa policies, which are hurting business (the Forbes concern) and alienating otherwise pro-American foreigners. Here's a bit of the editorial:
The Bush administration is doing the economy long term harm by not reforming our post-9/11 immigration and visa policies. Since the terrorist attacks, foreigners have had to go through considerably more hassle to enter this country. No one is arguing about the mortal necessity of tightening our screening procedures. But it defies belief that this, the most technologically advanced of nations, can't come up with software and hardware to expeditiously assist in determining who should and should not gain entrée.
Despite the weak dollar, the number of visitors from overseas during the past three years is down 23%. International conventions and seminars are not taking place in the U.S. because organizers can't be sure their delegates will be allowed into the country.
More alarmingly, foreign students are increasingly turning to non-U.S. universities. Australia, Canada and other nations have been effectively luring these students by assuring them that if they qualify, they won't have to undergo repeated, humiliating hassles at their borders. By contrast, foreign students now in the U.S. know that when they go home for summer vacation or holidays, their probability of returning to school is no sure thing.
Read the rest here. The visa hassles are no small thing, even for permanent residents and foreign-born citizens whose families want to visit them. "For the first time, I feel like a foreigner in this country," one of Professor Postrel's Indian-born colleagues told us at at recent party. We are needlessly alienating people who enrich our country and culture--and who would otherwise spread pro-American sentiment to their home countries. Bravo to Steve Forbes, for raising an issue most politically active people would prefer to ignore.