DHS Opening Various Migration Doors to Princes and Paupers

By David North on September 9, 2010

DHS is, at least, consistent.

Whether a would-be alien worker is rich or poor, a chum of the ambassador or a friendless waif, a distinguished artist or a minor-league criminal, some arm of the Department of Homeland Security is busily making it easier for that alien to come to, or stay legally in, America.

No matter how narrow or wide the visa category, DHS keeps expanding openings in the immigration structure, one at a time. It is a highly detailed, time-consuming task, but it continues month after month.

Here are two recent examples on the privileged side of the spectrum: the well-publicized matter of Larry King's replacement on television, a British editor once employed by Rupert Murdoch, and the almost totally ignored decision regarding the U.S. employment rights of chums of other nations' ambassadors. Not relatives, chums.

Piers Morgan. CNN wanted to hire Piers Morgan, a citizen of the UK with no American visa, to replace Larry King, who had said he was retiring. There was some speculation that Morgan might not get a work visa quickly enough to meet CNN's timetable as reported here and elsewhere. There were laments of immigration lawyers in Immigration Daily on the unreasonable slowness of DHS on this issue.

The problem was swiftly solved, apparently, and Morgan is now on his way to the States.

This mini flap reminded me of a conversation I had more than 40 years ago when I was a junior political appointee at LBJ's Department of Labor. I was complaining to a senior official about the ease with which show business managed to get visas for alien actors; the case in point was that of the then-unknown (in the U.S.) Rex Harrison, an actor with no known singing ability, who was to star in the movie "My Fair Lady."

I was told that the producer had an absolute right to import precisely the actor or actress he wanted, no matter how many able Americans had to be disregarded. Given the number of U.S. residents (such as Katie Couric or Jon Stewart) who could have ably filled Larry King's suspenders, that still is the government’s posture.

The apparent decision on Pier Morgan's petition (or more precisely, CNN's petition for him) is totally consistent with other moves by USCIS in recent months. That agency, under the direction of Alejandro Mayorkas, a California lawyer, issued a summary of the actions it has taken recently to ease the process of obtaining O (for Outstanding) visas for various show business and artistic professionals.

Ambassadorial Chums. Meanwhile, it has long been the practice in the U.S., and presumably a lot of other nations, to allow the spouse and the kids of ambassadors and other diplomats to work in the local economy. The State Department, understandably, does not want to find that some other arm of the government has arrested an ambassadorial spouse for illicitly working in the U.S. Such an act might compromise other, more important arrangements with the nation in question. So far, so good.

What the State and Homeland Security Departments have done now, however, at some considerable expense in terms of staff time that might have been devoted to more pressing matters, is to redefine the concept of the immediate family of these diplomats.

According to the Federal Register of August 9, what the departments have done is to remove "the requirement that members of the A or G principal alien's household, beyond the alien's spouse and dependent children, must be related to the alien by blood, marriage or adoption."

Those with A visas are diplomats, and those with G visas are international civil servants, working for institutions like the World Bank.

The government now allows everyone with those visas to classify anyone who is living in their houses as "family members." which allows those non-relative chums to work in the U.S.

While this probably does not do too much damage to the affected labor markets, and none outside the D.C. and New York areas, it is a sad example of both what occupies the time of our decision-makers and the USCIS tendency to make every conceivable loophole in the immigration rules just a little larger.

On the other hand these new rules may ease matters for our diplomats overseas, as such things are usually worked out as reciprocal arrangements. So if our ambassador to Country X has a live-in lover who wants to work in the local economy, that person would be able to do so. But if that is indeed the case, for some reason the State Department is not telling this story in those words.

The Other End of the Spectrum. Meanwhile, as I discussed in a previous blog, if you have too little money, and want to government to waive a USCIS fee for the benefit you want, such as employment authorization, you no longer need to write a memo to the government telling of your lack of money – now you can fill in a form created to make that process easier.

Similarly, if you are a border-line criminal and are about to be deported for breaking the immigration law, as Mark Krikorian noted recently, there is good news for you. DHS has announced that in some circumstances you will be allowed to stay in the country. That there are simply too many illegal aliens in the country does not seem to matter anymore.

It all runs in the same direction, no matter what kind of alien you are: if there is a legal loophole anywhere in sight, DHS will find it, and expand it for you.