Why 'All Men Are Created Equal' Shouldn't Always Apply

By David North on August 26, 2011

"All men are created equal" is an important principle, but it has its limits.

That's the way it should be regarding relationships among human beings within a democracy, but it should not necessarily apply when a democracy is handling a threat scenario.

A good example of the misplaced use of the equality principal could be seen during the early post-9/11 screenings for would-be terrorists on our passenger planes – everyone was equally subject to random special attention, be they 90-year-old nuns or young men from, say, Yemen.

In many ways that sort of mindless egality is applied to somewhat less dramatic situations, such as our migration-screening procedures, including the way we sort out applicants for F-1 (student) visas.

If you are a graduate of Heidelberg or Oxford University, and you have been admitted to a PhD program at, say, Yale University, you get the same formal level of scrutiny by this country as if you are from a marginal educational institution in the Third World, and want to apply to a for-profit university in the United States.

American consular officials may treat the two applicants a little differently, but formally both applicants are equally able to apply, and the same screening procedures are in place.

Does that make any more sense than a random search of the 90-year-old nun? Probably not, but that is the way we do it, while our more sophisticated colleagues Down Under react in a more rational manner.

Both Australia and New Zealand also provide tertiary education to people from other nations (and, full disclosure, I had, thanks to the Fulbright Program, a chance to sample the N.Z. system, and found it excellent). Both nations have had troubles with nonimmigrant drop-outs from its universities who have become illegal aliens in their countries, and both are doing something, but something different from each other, about it. The U.S. should profit from both examples.

In each case the nation has decided that certain classes of foreign student applicants warrant closer scrutiny than others, classes that have produced higher percentages of illegal aliens than others.

In the case of New Zealand, that country, according to a recent news article, is contemplating adjusting the migrant-screening process to make it easier for students seeking to come to high-quality institutions, and less easy for those seeking to come to low-quality institutions. That quality rating system is expected to be in place next year.

Meanwhile, to cope with the same problem, Australia has in place a system which, according to the same article, "assesses the risk according to the nationality of would-be students and their intended educational sector – not the track record of the institution."

The judgment on nationality relates to the past record of other students from that nation in terms of their compliance with Australia's immigration laws.

In the U.S. we have none of those highly rational systems in place. I, for one, think that it would make excellent sense to provide greater barriers to the admission of aliens coming to for-profit institutions of higher learning rather than to non-profits; more barriers for people coming to newly-established institutions rather than to older ones.

If, in addition, we could work out a quality scale within those brackets, so much the better, but that would be more difficult.

Speaking of for-profit educational institutions, there is the recent example of the ICE-raided University of Northern Virginia in the D.C. suburbs. This is the for-profit university that is owned by one individual, Daniel Ho, who also owns three grocery stores.

UNV, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, is

accredited by the American University Accreditation Council, which is not recognized by the [U.S.] Department of Education. The address listed as the Council's headquarters is an auto-body repair shop owned by the chairman of Northern Virginia's board. A caller to the number listed on the accreditor's web site was greeted with the following message Thursday evening: "This is D'Angelo, so get at me back."

Late in July ICE hauled off boxes of documents from the entity's tiny campus, announced it was conducting an investigation, and suspended UNV's right to issue the visa-creating document, the Form I-20. A phone call to UNV on August 25 confirmed that they were not, at the moment anyway, accepting new foreign students, apparently because of their problems with ICE.

Earlier in the year ICE closed down another for-profit educational institution, Tri-Valley University in California, on the grounds, to put it bluntly, that it was a visa mill.

Meanwhile, as we noted in an earlier blog, the institution that is the largest user of the dubious F-1/OPT bonus system – an extra $10K to employers who hire alien, not comparable, citizen college grads – Stratford University, is also a for-profit entity.

Maybe those Kiwi immigration officials are on to something.