Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A letter to my Congressman (and there are two like it headed for my Senators)

The Honorable Pete Olson
United States Representative, Texas, 22nd District
514 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Congressman Olson,

As are many of my fellow constituents, I am interested in seeing our country’s immigration laws be both sensibly written and credibly enforced. I have rather more of a personal interest in legal immigration than do most of my fellow Americans, I would imagine, because over the years I have adopted four children from Kazakhstan, and on 18 September of this year I married an utterly delightful woman from China and am now starting the process of applying for visas for my beloved wife and my seven-year-old stepson.

I do not object to the necessity of providing documentation to prove that the marriage is bona fide; I understand that necessity and certainly do not want to encourage immigration fraud. On the other hand, when I came home from my honeymoon without my wife and explained to friends that it would be months before she could join me here in Texas, those of my friends who were born American and have never dealt with the immigration process were surprised and appalled. As one friend put it in an e-mail to me, “To make newlyweds wait months before they could start playing house together, in peacetime, is inhuman.” I could not agree more, and I hardly think it reflects well on the country, or serves well any one of us who is an honest and loyal American and who plays by the rules, but who happens to have met the love of his life in a foreign land.

I urge you to consider sponsoring legislation that would leave all the current requirements for spousal immigration intact EXCEPT for a simple change: allow the foreign spouse to enter the country on a temporary visa, immediately (with approval delays no greater than ordinary tourist visas), on three conditions:

  1. Require the sponsoring spouse to have a clean background record. Your experience and common sense may suggest other requirements for the sponsoring spouse that would help ensure that the marriage in question was prima facie likely to be bona fide (and you may wish to restrict eligibility to American citizens); but remember that it must be possible to establish the spouse’s eligibility very rapidly or else the whole point of the legislation will be defeated.

  2. Require the financial sponsor to post a significant cash bond (meant to be sufficient to purchase airline tickets for every immigrant on the CR-1 application) to ensure that the immigrating spouse and any accompanying children can be sent home, at no expense to the American taxpayer, in the event the CR-1 application is finally rejected.

  3. Require the immigrating spouse to present himself/herself at a Deparment of Homeland Security office within a reasonable amount of time (e.g., three business days) to be assigned a probation officer from the federal immigration authorities, analogous to a probation officer from the criminal justice system; and require said spouse to check in with his/her probation officer at regular intervals until the final verdict on the full residency application is passed.

I understand that the last provision would require additional budget appropriations; but the cost could be mitigated by charging a higher fee for CR-1 visa applications that request this sort of immediate entry than for CR-1 visa applications submitted by couples willing to wait to enter the country until the CR-1 process is completed – in a word, by making the expedited process both voluntary and (within reason) more expensive, and thus reasonably close to self-supporting.

Under the current process, American citizens such as myself who are law-abiding and honest persons, are punished simply because there exist other people who are dishonest. To a certain very limited extent, this is an unavoidable consequence of life in a society of 300 million people – but to the extent that this cost to good and innocent citizens CAN be mitigated, I believe it is the responsibility of the citizens’ representatives to mitigate it. I humbly submit that my proposal would make a very great difference – not to me, as I will be done with the process long before the legislation could take effect – but to others like me in years to come; and I humbly submit that if properly designed it should NOT significantly enable the sort of fraud that the current process seeks to intercept, nor have a significant net budgetary impact.

In closing, I ask you only to imagine what it would have been like for you to have had to walk through an airport security gate the day your honeymoon ended and leave your bride behind, not knowing how many months it would be before you would see her again – and from personal experience I assure you that, whatever you are imagining, the reality is worse.

Thank you very much for your time and attention to my proposal.

Yours most sincerely,

Ken Pierce

P.S. I note from your Wikipedia article that you served in the United States Navy for nine years. Please accept my most sincere thanks for your service to our nation.


At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's even worse with green card holders - it takes 5-6 years to be able to bring their spouses here.


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