Saturday, June 02, 2007

Waving to Nowhere

The Facts:
One 19 year old Croatian male, eyes wide-open with the possibility of making his first visit in the US of A. Note that I emphasize VISIT.
Son of my cousin, who has traveled extensively in the States, alone and with his wife, for business and for pleasure. My cousin has ALWAYS gone back to the Land of Croats. Why wouldn’t he when he’d otherwise be missing this.
This Croatian male has traveled extensively in Europe, spending months in Ireland, England & Spain. Has been, for shorter periods of time, in Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Kenya and (I believe) some of the Scandinavian countries.
Has ALWAYS returned back to home, to Croatia.
Loves to swim. Is great with kids. Enjoys his Summers, Winters, Falls, and, well I guess, Springs as well in Croatia. Who wouldn’t?

Does not have, does not want Work Visa for the US of A.
Does not have, does not want Student Visa for the US of A.
Does want to come over to work on his English; assumes this work does not require a Work Visa.
Does want to stay 45 days to work on his English and to see NYC, Washington D.C., Philly, NASCAR, and Hollywood. (may have to eliminate the latter; I don’t think he realizes that Hollywood is on the West Coast).
He’s never seen the Atlantic from this side of the world. Can’t wait to be at the beaches in Delaware and the shore in Jersey.
Not very interested in museums, but loves cars and things that move; amusement parks are high on his list of things to see.
More than happy to do volunteer work while here so that he would be immersed totally in all things American.
Does not want to / Is not expecting any remuneration. The experience is what he’s shooting for and he knows that receiving money simply complicates things.
Is 100% Croatian, although physically he resembles more your typical German kind of guy.
He’s a practicing Catholic who regularly attends Mass with his grandmother, who goes to church every day.

Oh yeah, he’s never been arrested, convicted, or jailed. He does have rather rosy cheeks, as most of his aunts and his grandmothers tend to pinch them continuously because he’s the cutest 6’ 3” kid they’ve ever seen.

The Problem
Said 19 yr old Croatian goes to US Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia for a visa interview.
A 2 minute visa interview.
Result: Rejected.
Reason: Not enough proof that he won’t stay here once entering the country.

I filled out this Affidavit of Support.
Other documentation was provided to ensure his return to Croatia.
(Not sure if pictures of the Croatian coastline, his adorable grandmothers, his parent’s house and their weekend villa on the coast, his friends, etc were provided. I am seriously thinking of getting myself adopted as a son by my cousin. I’ve been paper-trained and have outstanding table manners).

Said 19 yr old Croatian goes to US Embassy in Zagreb for a second crack at the visa.
Result: Rejected. Again.
Reason: Same as before.

The Gripe

I think that Michael at 2 Blowhards and Mr. Steve Sailer make some valid points about our current immigration policy. The US Embassy in Zagreb must be reading and applying their postings, as they seem to have taken the complaints to heart and seem to stopping any outflow to the USA from that teeny, tiny part of the world. Both Michael and Mr. Sailer discuss immigration, specifically the illegal immigration coming from Mexico and points south. I’ve read through their pieces and haven’t found anything on visitor’s visas as being a key weakness in the illegal immigration problem. They may say that the matter I’m talking about here is not an immigration issue but rather a visa issue. I disagree entirely. The two are intertwined as the State Department, perhaps due to pressure exerted by the Bush Administration or Congress, seems to think that by cutting down on visa approvals from Europe, they will be cutting down on illegal immigration. Do we have a problem with illegal immigration from Europe, specifically (getting nasty here) from Christian immigrants from Europe? I haven’t heard or read about this problem anywhere. What I have read is that life over in the EU and potential-EU countries, like Croatia, is good, pretty damn good. Folks are happy living where they already are. The Euro is much stronger than the US Dollar these days; they’re just in the frame of mind to make a VISIT here. On the cheap, well, maybe, on the cheapER.

Will we have to wait until the Dems come into office to get back to reality regarding potential visitors to the USA? Jeez, that’s another 2 years of this circle-the-wagons thinking. Maybe said 19 yr. old Croatian will have a chance to send his kids over for a visit, after he settles down, marries, and procreates. The way things are going, the shine that was so blinding which emanated from this country will be dull and lacking in uniqueness once his kids are allowed to come and to see. Not to stay.

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This is a shame...typical reactionary bureaucratic BS. We have worked with several Croatian and Bosnian families through our church to help them come to the US for medical treatment, etc. The process is stupefying! I do believe we need to protect our borders (and not just the Southern one), but we have lost all sense of what the word "protect" means.
I'm figuring, perhaps incorrectly, that we, as a country, need some friends or, at the very least, some acquaintances that don't hate us. I'm not completely sure as to your feelings about the current administration, but I think you would admit that the amount of fence-burning these folks have done would lead you to believe that only are they into oil but also into the wood industry.

This behaviour is not what the US of A is about. Or at least, not what I always thought it was about. It's a "Guilty until proven Innocent" mentality. Shame on the State Department; shame on us.
This is absolutely deplorable. Honest to God, what are they thinking? And does the rich irony of this completely escape the authorities?


Don't answer that.
Darko, you think when a Democrat was in White House the State Department behaved any differently?

A personal anecdote. When I was interviewed in American Embassy in Moscow for my refugee visa, one of the serial interviewers told me the antisemitism in US is higher than in Russia, especially in Catholic-populated areas (he was Polish and Catholic) and he doesn't think it's a valid reason for me to immigrate.
I was shocked.
Later I was told numerous stories by fellow applicants that it's a standard State Department' practice, to "defer overflow."

If anything, the INS and State Dept are more uniformly Democratic, than Repub.

Maybe your nephew should try to go to Russia, take a train to Kamchatka and then proceed thru the Straits to ocean of colorful life-long experience...
"Not enough proof that he won't stay here."

Some miserable functionary bastard probably got off issuing that embarrassing sample of bureaucratic arrogance
This is an incredible shame. The kid would have a hoot visiting all those flashy thrill-ride parks, and probably leave NASCAR with most of his hearing intact. I'm sure if he's persistent he'll get his chance, but unfortunately the humiliating experience of seeking permission to visit and spend his hard-earned Euros is sure to taint his view of the Land of the Free & The Home of the Brave.
Darko, while there's no doubt that post 9/11, the bureaucracy that was once INS has become even MORE unworkable (as if that was even possible...INS was singularly the worst bureaucracy in this country prior to 9/11...though I would suggest it was not the worst in all the does get worse, as you know). Nevertheless, it is an appalling disgrace and there is no reason why your cousin should not have been allowed to visit (he meets all of the criteria that is publicly outlined on our own government's website). Having worked with my husband and several of his family members under the watch of several administrations, Republican and Democrat, all I can say is that the system is broken and neither party has done anything to fix it. But for the record, I am not at all in favor of the most recent immigration reform proposal which would do nothing but further complicate and frustrate the immigration process for those who are already trying to enter this country legally, thus increasing, not decreasing, the number of illegal immigrants (not to mention creating an even larger second class of "citizens"). The system is broken at the administrative (i.e. management of such a complicated system requires competent employees at all levels), not the Administration, level.

So how was the race? ;-)
Thank you for all of the comments and empathy. We are trying to get some answers from our end. Funny how 2 years ago we went for a visit over to Croatia, needed no visas, and had no border-crossing hassles upon arrival over there or return back here.
The way things are going, the shine that was so blinding which emanated from this country will be dull and lacking in uniqueness once his kids are allowed to come and to see. Not to stay

Ah, with such heavy heart, I agree.

Wishing you much success in getting your cousin's son ( your second cousin?) to the US.
One of the reasons I am planning to leave the Yakima Gulag is this visa policy on the part of the U.S. it's just easier for me to go live long term in BiH or Croatia than for him to come here on ANY basis, it's a total Catch-22. All efforts to make the system rational and fair have been a dead loss.
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