Uncle Omar, Visa Lottery Fees, and Other Tidbits

By David North on January 20, 2012

The tone-deafness of the White House on illegal immigration, the congressional decision against charging fees to applicants for the visa lottery, and other immigration policy news deserve note this last day of the week.

Uncle Omar

It is well known that the administration is oblivious to the widespread (but non-elite) concern about illegal immigration; in a related matter, the White House is also showing no self-preservation smarts when it comes to Uncle Omar, the president's drunk-driving-and-illegal-alien relative.

The voting public was reminded of this Mr. Obama, half-brother to the president's deceased father, on January 12 in an AP report of his lawyer arguing in court that the cop who had arrested Uncle Omar for drunk driving had, in fact, been driving badly, too.

The article "Lawyer for Obama's uncle questions cop's driving" would never have been written if some friends of the president had done what I suggested in an earlier blog. My notion was that without using government officials or funds, Uncle Omar could be whisked away on a jet plane, and told that his monthly allowance, to be paid in Kenyan shillings, would come to a screeching halt should he attempt to re-enter the U.S. while Obama was in office. I am sure that there are friends of the president would be happy to fund such an arrangement.

But Uncle Omar is still in the U.S., still illegal, still fighting in the courts, and the chances that another courtroom appearance will take place just before the election would appear to be too strong for the White House to ignore. The chances that ICE would take care of the problem by deporting him are, on the other hand, much, much slimmer.

Money and Visas

The U.S. Senate voted a couple of months ago to impose a fee of $30 on all the applicants for the visa lottery, a move that we estimated would produce close to a quarter-billion dollars a year for the Treasury. The legislative vehicle for the Senate decision was an omnibus appropriations bill.

Since the provision was included in the Senate version of the bill but not in the House one, it was subject to the reconciliation process, by which the two bills are blended by a House-Senate conference committee. During that often murky process the mass-migration forces managed to delete the provision. When we asked friends on the Hill exactly what happened, they said that they did not know.

That setback, however, may have had a silver lining. Had the fees been firmly attached to the visa lottery, it would have given the supporters of the program a fiscal argument for keeping that totally extraneous program alive.

Farmers' Fibs and Georgia Agriculture

On January 9 a blog of mine was entitled "Caution: Watch for Farmers' Fibs on 'Labor Shortages'". It dealt with how big agriculture often overstates the lack of workers when it talks about immigration policy. FAIR has independently come to the same conclusion, and offers specifics; a story on its website documents in detail the misstatements made by the farm lobby in Georgia about the impact of a new local immigration enforcement law.

It Could be Worse – Naturalization in Belize

Much as I despair sometimes about how immigration policy is handled in this country, it is helpful to note that sometimes these matters are handled even more badly – much more badly – in other countries, even other English-speaking ones.

I am thinking of how they manage naturalization in the smallest of the three English-speaking countries on the North American mainland, Belize. According to a January 18 report on Belize's Channel Seven News, one of the members of that nation's parliament has announced that he is paying half the $150 naturalization fee for those signing up (in the days running up to a local election). The story adds that others in his (the governing) party say that the party is paying the whole freight.

The tone of the article is mildly disapproving, but in an interview with the parliamentarian involved, Elvin Penner, he sounded as if it were business as usual.