Earlier this year while traveling through Ohio, I met Marlena, a young Russian woman who entered the U.S. on a temporary H-2B visa to work as a summer waitress at a swanky Shaker Heights country club.
After a couple of years, and having maxed out on her allowable H-2B visa extensions, Marlena changed status to a M-1 student visa so that she could study English as a second language at a local community college.
In the meantime, Marlena found a better, full time job at a restaurant specializing in Eastern European cuisine.
She's paid cash under the table. And the sympathetic patrons tip her well.
Marlena supplements her restaurant income with another cash job by providing home care for a well-to-do elderly woman. For her services, Marlena receives $1,500 monthly as well as free room and board plus the unlimited use of the bedridden woman's car.
I estimate Marlena's full compensation package has a net value at a minimum of $5,000 monthly.
During one of our conversations, Marlena told me that she had "no intention under any circumstances" to return to Russia.
"I will marry the first reasonable man who proposes," Marlena told me.
Instead we'll focus on the immigration aspect of Marlena's case—starting with how absurd it is to issue a student visa to study ESL to someone who speaks perfect English. (Marlena, by the way, attends class just often enough to stay in compliance with the terms of her visa.)
Everything Marlena has done and plans to do to stay in the U.S. is perfectly legal.
You may think that Marlena's plotting and conniving is unusual.
But it's not. In fact, Marlena's maneuvering is what we who follow the flawed non-immigrant visa system find typical.
Gloria spent thousands of dollars on immigration lawyers to wiggle around the visa regulations. Once Gloria's money was gone and with no other options open to her, she simply overstayed her visa when it expired.
For further proof that legal immigration is far from hunky-dory, read David Seminara's Center for Immigration Studies backgrounder: "No Coyote Needed: U.S. Visas Still an Easy Ticket in Developing Countries".
Seminara, a U.S. Foreign Service tenured member from 2002-2007, offers his inside view of the disaster that is U.S. visa policy.
Think of Marlena and Gloria multiplied by a factor of several million people.
Boiled down, Seminara's report amounts to this: every visa issued potentially and most likely represents a permanent U. S. resident, either through the creativity of the Marlenas or the resolve of determined law-breakers like the Glorias.
If you want to come to America, all you have to do is file a petition. And if you want to stay in America, just don't go home!
Seminara told me that over the last decade more than 5,000,000 non-immigrant visas have been issued to people who adjust their status after arriving in America and remain in the country indefinitely—probably for the rest of their lives.
[VDARE.COM note: You can see an Excel Spreadsheet of the figures here: Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status By Type And Major Class Of Admission: Fiscal Years 1998 To 2007 (.xls file).]
As Marlena and Gloria's cases prove, once a foreigner reaches U.S. shores, he's here to stay.
Alarmingly, not all visa holders come from countries that look as kindly upon America as Russia and the Philippines.
For Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the issuance rates reached highs of 94 and 96 percent.
To stem the flow of seemingly-innocent tourists, many of whom in reality are bent on getting permanent U.S. residency, Seminara urges eliminating status adjustment.
I propose another two-step idea.
The U.S. is under no obligation to provide dozens of different visas for every conceivable circumstance to prospective immigrants from all corners of the world.
And we don't have to explain why we're no longer making certain visas available. That decision would fall under the category of "we used to do it—but now we don't."
Here are a few visas that no one stateside will miss when they are gone
And remember—should these visas go away, the added bonus is that the family members who inevitably follow behind the original visa recipient will stay behind.
Here's my list; it could easily be longer.
The only people who benefit from the K-1 visa: the "fiancée" who gets on the path to U.S. citizenship, her extended family, Internet matchmakers, immigration lawyers who push the papers through and (maybe) the loving husband— unless she dumps him first.
You say you can't find your dream girl? Try harder. According to the U.S. Census, 50 million single women are out there.
Or go to Shaker Heights to find Marlena. She's cute and eager to hook up with you.
This visa is a bad joke. Anyone who is a "minister" and has been a member of a religious denomination for a minimum of two years can qualify.
No matter what religion claims to need church workers, translators, preachers or personnel to function in any other "religious capacity"—a requirement of the loosely-written R guidelines— can recruit them from the next town or the adjacent state.
Three years ago in my hometown of Lodi, CA, we had two untoward R visa Imams who were at the center of a FBI terrorist investigation. They're back in Pakistan now—from whence they should never have come.
You say you're a legitimate talent? God bless you, then. We'll catch your act over there—wherever that is—or buy your DVDs.
T is for trafficking and U is for abused women living in "immigrant homes" who may one day testify against the traffickers who got them into the country.
"For the lucky recipients, T visas are a wonderful deal. According to the DOJ, T-visa holders are eligible for all forms of public assistance (cash, housing, medical care, etc.) as well as job training, federal Office of Refugee Resettlement micro loans, and Federal match grant goodies—which can include cars—and an uncountable host of federal grants."
I could name several other visas that should go out the window—Marlena's M-1 is one.
But I'm sure you get my point.
Just remember: CIS's Seminara and I are talking about legal immigration. No one in his right mind could support the blatant rip-off of American generosity that Congress misguidedly continues to offer to the world.
Here's a closing note I know will interest you. I asked Seminara if his remarkable study generated any media inquiries.
However, CNN Tonight—hosted by Lou Dobbs— taped a 30-minute segment.
Seminara told me that he was disappointed that his appearance was edited down to a snippet of only few seconds, which included the extraneous subject of passport outsourcing.
With visa fraud raging, legal immigration has emerged as a bigger peril to American sovereignty than illegal immigration.
But our challenge with legal immigration is that Congress, more or less under the radar, keeps making it easier.
We need to mount an equally vigorous defense against mass legal immigration. We need to achieve the same success that we have in our opposition to illegal immigration.
Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.