Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > General Discussions > Other Talk > Religion, Politics and World Events
Reload this Page >

University of Nebraska suing Homeland Security over Bolivian Professor's visa denial

Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

University of Nebraska suing Homeland Security over Bolivian Professor's visa denial

Old 03-11-07, 01:27 AM
  #1  
DVD Talk Legend
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Formerly known as "brizz"/kck
Posts: 23,425
University of Nebraska suing Homeland Security over Bolivian Professor's visa denial

My brother in law teaches at UNL and told me about this today....pretty interesting. Good to see Chertoff et al are on top of things! I know they've done this with other scholars under the same stilted logic...particularly with Cuban scholars of various academic stripes. Twice now they refused to allow dozens of them to enter the U.S. for the premier Latin American History conference in the U.S.

http://www.progressive.org/mag_mc031007

University of Nebraska Sues Chertoff
By Matthew Rothschild

March 10, 2007

You may have heard about Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan being banned from the University of Notre Dame by the Bush Administration. Well, here’s another example of the Bush Administration’s hostility to the First Amendment and xenophobia about foreign scholars.

Waskar Ari is a Bolivian historian who got his doctorate at Georgetown.

A scholar of indigenous people, Ari came to the attention of the University of Nebraska, which has a specialty in this subject. The university decided to hire him as an assistant professor in the departments of history and ethnic studies, and he was supposed to teach there from August 15, 2005, to May 16, 2008.

But he’s never taught a single class because the Department of Homeland Security has sat on the paperwork needed for his visa.

On June 13, 2005, the University of Nebraska filed a petition that Ari would need before he himself could apply for a visa. That petition, called an “H-1B,” is standard for employers who want to hire a foreign professional. The university also applied for expedited processing, and submitted the $1,000 fee, which entitled the university to a response within 15 days.

The university is still waiting, 22 months later.


On March 31, 2006, more than 9 months after filing the petition, the university received a letter from the Nebraska office of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services. The office, it said, “is unable to meet the 15-day requirement,” which was quite obvious by then. Its explanation: “The referenced case is undergoing security checks and is awaiting review and clearance.” (The office returned the $1,000 check.)

Almost a year later and with still no decision, the University of Nebraska on March 2 filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and its head, Michael Chertoff, along with Emilio T. Gonzalez, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and F. Gerard Heinauer, who is in charge of the Nebraska office.

The university is not seeking monetary damages. All it wants is Homeland Security to stop “unlawfully withholding or unreasonably delaying action” on its petition for Waskar Ari.

The suit says that the stalling on this petition “prevents Dr. Ari from teaching and speaking within the United States and, most importantly, prevents United States citizens and residents—including students and academic colleagues—from attending classes taught by Dr. Ari or otherwise meeting with Dr. Ari to engage in discussion and hear his views, in violation of these citizens’ and residents’ First Amendment rights.”

Marilu Cabrera, is a spokeswoman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “We do not comment on pending litigation,” she says. But she adds: “I’m familiar with the case. We are currently processing it. We’re working on responding to any outstanding issues.”

The lawsuit argues that Homeland Security has no authority to investigate security allegations during the employer’s petition stage. In any event, Waskar Ari on August 14, 2006, sent a statement to the department of Homeland Security addressing any perceived security issues.

Here’s what Ari wrote: “I have never had any connection with terrorism, terrorist organizations, or organizations that support terrorism in any way, and I am adamantly opposed to terrorism and terrorists no matter what.”

The University of Nebraska remains anxious for Ari to get clearance.

“We want him to come,” says Peter Levitov, the associate dean of international affairs for the University of Nebraska. “We’ve waited two full academic years for him. And if we thought he would not eligible to enter the United States, we would not have offered him the position. Nothing has come to our attention since we offered it that would make us withdraw it.”

Ari still is eager to teach at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. “I very much want to take my job at UNL,” he writes me by e-mail. “I am fighting against my permanent exclusion from U.S. academia.”

He says this episode with Homeland Security has broadened his field of vision.

“I had to assimilate this long delay,” he writes, “and I think I have a larger mission to work on in life. I should work more in promoting international understanding.”
HistoryProf is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 09:55 AM
  #2  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Land of the Lobstrosities
Posts: 10,300
The suit says that the stalling on this petition “prevents Dr. Ari from teaching and speaking within the United States and, most importantly, prevents United States citizens and residents—including students and academic colleagues—from attending classes taught by Dr. Ari or otherwise meeting with Dr. Ari to engage in discussion and hear his views, in violation of these citizens’ and residents’ First Amendment rights.”
There may be other legitimate issues here, but I'm not buying this one. I'm pretty sure you don't need an H-1B to give speeches and engage in discussion. I don't think the first amendment grants the right to get paid for speech.
wmansir is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 10:33 AM
  #3  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Working for Gizmonic Institute
Posts: 10,430
You mean the Waskar Ari, current head of the Cocalero movement? One of the founders of the Kechuaymara Foundation? Gee, I don't think there are any problems there.
crazyronin is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 11:21 AM
  #4  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Posts: 36,981
The lawsuit argues that Homeland Security has no authority to investigate security allegations during the employer’s petition stage.
I disagree. Of course DHS has authority before the person is granted a visa. Isn't it better to catch a threat before they come in the country?

(I dont know who this guy is and if he is a threat or not)
Venusian is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 11:27 AM
  #5  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 52,503
Yeah, we better watch out for the Kechuaymara Foundation.

Our banana population wouldn't be safe.

Last edited by DVD Polizei; 03-11-07 at 11:32 AM.
DVD Polizei is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 11:29 AM
  #6  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 52,503
Originally Posted by Venusian
I dont know who this guy is and if he is a threat or not
Neither does the Bush Administration.

If the Bush Administration thinks he's a threat, they need to say it, instead of stalling. It's like another form of Gitmo. "We can't prove your guilt, sooooooo, we're gonna just keep everything in limbo and talk gobbly-gook when asked about it."
DVD Polizei is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 12:46 PM
  #7  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Montreal, Canada
Posts: 29,920
He's an Aymara indian and a supporter of indigenous rights, which include supporting coca leaf farmers. Coca for chewing and tea are ancient traditions in Andean culture, and growing and selling coca leaves is legal -- the derivative cocaine is not. I don't see how this makes him a threat to US security...

It's rather obvious that the reason for stalling on the visa is political. One, the above goes against US war on drugs policy, and two, he's from Bolivia and the president, Evo Morales is an evil "socialist" and a protege of Chavez.
eXcentris is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 02:43 PM
  #8  
DVD Talk Legend
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Formerly known as "brizz"/kck
Posts: 23,425
Originally Posted by Venusian
I disagree. Of course DHS has authority before the person is granted a visa. Isn't it better to catch a threat before they come in the country?

(I dont know who this guy is and if he is a threat or not)
He got his Ph.D. at Georgetown
HistoryProf is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 02:49 PM
  #9  
DVD Talk Legend
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Formerly known as "brizz"/kck
Posts: 23,425
Originally Posted by eXcentris
He's an Aymara indian and a supporter of indigenous rights, which include supporting coca leaf farmers. Coca for chewing and tea are ancient traditions in Andean culture, and growing and selling coca leaves is legal -- the derivative cocaine is not. I don't see how this makes him a threat to US security...

It's rather obvious that the reason for stalling on the visa is political. One, the above goes against US war on drugs policy, and two, he's from Bolivia and the president, Evo Morales is an evil "socialist" and a protege of Chavez.
precisely what I was implying above....here's an interesting article from a month ago that looks at other similar cases....
http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/02/12/knight

Stop Telling Foreign Scholars to Stay Home

By Jonathan Knight

For decades foreign scholars have visited the United States to meet with their counterparts in this country, to present a paper at an academic conference, or to take up an appointment at an American college or university. These visits have been immeasurably beneficial to this country in advancing knowledge in all academic fields and in strengthening ties with other nations.
Related stories

Under the current administration these visits have continued, but as evidenced by a series of visa decisions over the past three years, the administration’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas has been alarmingly weak.

In August 2004, the administration revoked a visa that had earlier been issued to Professor Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen and a renowned scholar of the Muslim world, to begin an appointment as a tenured professor at the University of Notre Dame. Ramadan had previously been able to travel freely to the United States, and currently he has an appointment at the University of Oxford and is serving as an advisor on anti-terrorism policies to the British government.


In responding to a lawsuit filed by the American Association of University Professors and other organizations in behalf of Ramadan, government lawyers said that Ramadan had not been denied entry because of his views about terrorism, contrary to what the government initially stated, but refused to specify why or to act on the visa. And then, in response to a federal court’s ruling that was skeptical that a sound legal basis exists for the administration’s continuing to deny entry to Ramadan, the government told Ramadan that it declined to renew his visa application because he had donated some $900 to two Palestinian relief organizations that in turn gave money to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Ramadan had previously disclosed these donations to U.S. consular officials.

In September 2004, the Department of State denied visas to 65 Cuban scholars one week before they were to participate in a conference sponsored by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) to be held in Las Vegas. The blanket visa denials were unprecedented in their scope; a State Department spokesperson said that the action was “consistent with the overall tightening of our policy” toward Cuba. The department took the same action in March 2006 against 55 Cuban scholars who were to have attended a LASA conference in Puerto Rico.


In June 2005, Professor Waskar Ari, a citizen of Bolivia, learned that he was not to be issued a visa and therefore could not begin his faculty appointment at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln that fall. Like Ramadan, Ari had been a frequent visitor to the United States, where he obtained his Ph.D. in history. The administration has given no explanation for this decision.

A year later, in June 2006, government officials barred Professor John Milios of Greece from entering the country to attend an academic conference at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Milios, who had been in this country on five separate occasions between 1996 and 2003, was halted at JFK international airport, where he was questioned about his beliefs and associations. He reports having undergone similar questioning by the American consul in Athens when he returned to Greece.


The most recent incident occurred in October 2006, when Professor Adam Habib, a citizen of South Africa, was, like Melios, denied entry into the country upon his arrival at JFK airport. He had been scheduled to meet with officers of the Social Science Research Council, Columbia University, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Bank. A frequent visitor to the United States, Habib initially thought that perhaps he was mistakenly barred entry because he had once been detained as a political prisoner under South Africa’s apartheid regime. He abandoned the notion of bureaucratic error when the American consulate in Johannesburg informed his wife in early January of the State Department’s extraordinary decision to revoke her visa and those of their two small children for travel to this country.

No doubt these visa-denial decisions are colored by circumstances particular to each one. For example, the administration’s refusing entry to Cuban scholars, like its Cuban policy more broadly, has been heavily influenced by anti-Castro politics in Florida, a factor not at play in the other visa decisions.

The common thread in these decisions is that in none of them has the administration questioned the reasons given by the foreign scholars for visiting the U.S. as being false or even suspect. At a time of genuine concern about threats to national security, it is perhaps not surprising when the government overreaches in guarding our borders. Certainly this administration is not the first to keep foreign scholars out of the country. But a bad practice is not improved by repeating it.

The administration, instead of instilling confidence that it knows what it is doing to stop foreign visitors from harming us, invites cynicism when it bars scholars who wish to enter this country for legitimate academic reasons. With these decisions, it hampers our ability to learn from those whose experiences and knowledge can enrich our understanding of vital issues.

These visa decisions also teach the wrong lessons to foreign scholars. Barred from entering the country without explanation or for reasons that defy common sense, they are left with the impression that our government fears ideas almost as much as it fears bombs. That may be a false impression, but the administration has only itself to blame for decisions that encourage this kind of thinking.

Various groups have sharply criticized the government’s decisions in specific cases, but every opportunity should be pursued to remind the academic community and those outside it of the basic and central point that keeping legitimate scholars out of the country damages freedom. Also needed is more effective Congressional oversight of the visa process and of visa decisions that may impair the free circulation of ideas. And positive action by both the executive branch and Congress on new visa recommendations proposed by a coalition of organizations may help guard against the misuse of the visa system.

Plainly the government should erect high barriers to thwart real threats to the nation’s security. But it should abandon barriers to the visits of foreign scholars to this country and encourage the freest possible international movement of scholars and ideas. Such a policy could be a powerful means of enhancing the nation’s well-being.

Jonathan Knight directs the program in academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University Professors
HistoryProf is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 04:08 PM
  #10  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 52,503
Indeed. Our government does fear ideas at the least, as much as bombs.
DVD Polizei is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 12:26 PM
  #11  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
Originally Posted by eXcentris
It's rather obvious that the reason for stalling on the visa is political.
Personally, I don't think it is obvious. My first thought was incompetence and bureaucracy. Generally when caught, they continue to hold things up so that they can try to make it look like they did it on purpose.

At least that was my initial guess.
kvrdave is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 12:42 PM
  #12  
DVD Talk Godfather
 
The Bus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 54,862
Finally, much needed vacancies for American-born experts on the Chaco War, the Tiwanaku people, and de Sucre's handling of early political instability. Low wages at numerous higher education institutions are a result of this needless importation of knowledge. Time to "insource", I say.

This will not stop eager grad students stopping by the parking lot of their local library and paying $20 for an illegal Russian historian to review their paper on Sergius of Radonezh, but it's nice to start somewhere.
The Bus is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 01:26 PM
  #13  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201


Well done.
kvrdave is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.