Hillary Clinton, Where Are You? Why Are Mexicans Denied U.S. Visitor Visas?

We have been round and round the explanation merry-go-round with Congressman Xavier Becerra’s office in Los Angeles.  Our friends from Oaxaca, for whom we provided letters of support and guaranteed their return back to Mexico were denied visas to come to the U.S. to visit their family and attend a brother’s wedding in Santa Ana.  We had contacted Congressman Becerra’s office asking for help for the family by sending a packet of support with a message asking the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to take a special look at their visa application.  It did no good.  Our friends — husband, wife and two children ages eight and twelve — who traveled overnight from Oaxaca on the bus and paid $129 USD each for the visa applications were pained at the decision.  We are ashamed of the treatment.  According to them, the consular officer did not open the file to look at any of the letters, asked a few questions, immediately said NO, got up and walked away.  We asked the Congressman’s aide, with whom we had talked with directly, to follow-up to find out why the visas were denied and if the Embassy would reconsider.  This is the answer we received.

Our consular records indicate that their applications for a non-immigrant visa were denied under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  This section of law requires U.S. visa applicants for most temporary travel to demonstrate that they have ties outside of the United States that would compel their departure from the U.S. at the end of their stay.  In other words, by law, consular officers must assume that a non-immigrant visa applicant is an intending immigrant unless and until the applicant demonstrates he or she is not.  In order to do so an applicant may provide evidence that they have strong social, economic, and familial ties outside of the United States and that their intended activities in the United States would be consistent with the visa status.  At the time of their interview, they were unable to overcome the presumption that they were intending immigrants.  The decision was reviewed by a supervisory consular officer who concurred with the outcome.

Below is a link to a Web site that has more information about visa refusals and 214(b):

http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/denials/denials_1361.html

My assessment of all this is that prospective visitors from Mexico must PROVE their intentions to return.  It is as if they are assumed guilty of becoming undocumented immigrants who will evaporate into the Latino underworld of our biggest cities never to return to Mexico again.    This is a discriminatory and bigoted public policy by our government.  It separates Mexican families — the border is like the Berlin Wall.  It  promulgates Latino disdain for White America.  Perhaps in twenty years, a Latino Congressman will have more voice in helping  a family who resides on one side of the border visit their brother and parents who live on this side of the border.  Meanwhile, this visa disapproval policy is painful and inequitable — totally based on the judgment of one individual sitting at a desk in Mexico City wielding disproportionate power over people’s lives.

A friend, whose husband is originally from Veracruz, says:  “I think the consul people don’t need any reason whatsoever. I’ve heard they allow 300 a day, nationwide(?) and don’t need criteria. Obviously not if they didn’t even open the envelope. There are just too many stories like this. “

4 Responses to Hillary Clinton, Where Are You? Why Are Mexicans Denied U.S. Visitor Visas?

  1. Per the law from the letter as well as your assessment, it appears as though Mexican visitors (as well as visitors from other countries) must prove their intentions to return. I’m wondering how it is discriminatory if it applies to everyone?

    • Dear Anon, thanks for your comment. The interpretation is subjective and determined by the consular officer. “Strong ties” to the home country must be proven by the applicant. As the law states below, “strong ties” differs country by country. The law is more stringent for Mexicans because we want to close the door to them entering. That’s what discrimination means.

      WHAT CONSTITUTES “STRONG TIES”?

      Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, a bank account. “Ties” are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

  2. You are so right about denial of visas. It is totally a capricious act on the part of the officers, who for the most part are on the first level for becoming US State Dept. representatives. Maybe it is to toughen them up and make them insensitive to all the things you mentioned above. But I’ve heard the same story over and over again.
    The real crime is giving any hope to individuals that they can obtain a visa in the first place (charging the $129) to those who can hardly afford it.
    The people who GET visas are usually those with professional practices – doctors, dentists, politicos, some high level Admin. people – those with a lot of wealth already. Property and a lot of money in the bank doesn’t hurt either.
    So forget about encouraging people to come to the states for any familiar visit – it’s not going to happen – because it’s ‘shut down’ time for people wanting to visit the USA for any reason.
    (I’ve worked in another program within the Embassy – so I’ve heard it all!)

    • Sheri, Thank you SO much for adding your voice. It’s important. I just HATE that our system embeds discrimination as official policy. It’s not the first time in the history of our nation that this has happened. It happened in the 1930’s when visas were more than cut in half from eastern Europe, strangling the lifeline for Jews who sensed the Holocaust was coming. Eastern Europeans went to Canada, Mexico and South America instead, when there was still time to get out. This situation is different, however. This policy effectively severs family ties in a culture where family connection is everything. Despicable.

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