Friday, September 9, 2011

The Wall Street Journal Pushes Tourism As The Solution To The Obama Economy

The WSJ is pushing tourism from impoverished countries as the solution to the problem of a collapsing economy. Of course their real intent is the importation of more low wage workers. The inanity of thinking that tourists from Brazil and China, two desparately poor countries would increased employment and prosperity in the U.S. is incredible. In any event there are few Chinese or Brazilians coming here to spend dollars. Most come here via the non-immigrant visa system with the intent of remaining, working illegally, and using welfare.

WSJ September 9, 2011

Security measures adopted to vet foreign visitors since 9/11 have had the side effect of discouraging tourism to the U.S., curbing job growth in the hospitality industries, according to executives and Obama administration officials.

Travel industry representatives say the government created more cumbersome entry procedures for visitors, such as protracted waits for tourist visas to enter the U.S., and a perception abroad that the country is less welcoming of foreign visitors. U.S. officials say they want to increase the flow of visitors, but they are constrained by the volume of visa requests and security concerns U.S. Consul General Beatrice Camp, rear, spoke to applicants for U.S. travel visas in Shanghai last month.The backlog especially has deterred tourists from emerging-market countries with fast-growing pools of people looking to travel overseas, travel executives say. Waiting periods for a Brazilian to get an in-person interview for a visa to enter the U.S., for
instance, can exceed four months.

Intense industry lobbying led President Barack Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a panel of private outside advisers, this year to recommend changes—such as more visa-processing capacity—as a way to boost U.S. job creation.

"Tourism is job-intensive in a very good way," said Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, which is implementing the jobs council recommendations. "Recapturing market share has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and bring tens of billions of dollars of money into our economy."

The potential market is enormous. Booming middle classes in Brazil, China, India and other emerging economies are creating legions of new international travelers. The State Department expects to review about 800,000 visitor visa applications in Brazil during the fiscal year that ends this month, up from just 290,000 five years earlier. China's pool is set to jump to one million from 750,000 just last year.

Global long-haul travel—outside a country's region—increased 40% between 2000 and 2010, according to an analysis of Commerce Department data by the U.S. Travel Association, an industry trade group. But the U.S. share of that travel fell from 17% to 12% during the period.

The association pushed the government to create the Corporation for Travel Promotion, a nonprofit group backed by private money and fees on visitors, to push U.S. tourism abroad. It also has been pressing the State Department to speed up its visa processing in key countries."If you were running a business with a line out the door of people who wanted to come in and buy your product, you would do everything you could to get them in there," says Geoff Freeman, executive vice president of the travel association. "Travelers follow a path of least resistance. When you put that type of resistance in front of them, they're going to find alternatives."

The travel group wants waiting periods down to 10 days or less, closer to the waits in many Western European nations.

It is impossible to know how many travelers are skipping over the U.S. in favor of other countries. In China, many potential tourists simply accept the lengthy visa delays, which have at times stretched for months. This week, the waiting periods for an appointment stretched as long as 39 days, depending on the city.

In mid-August, Ben Yang, 35 years old, tried to book a U.S. visa interview in Beijing for a trip to the U.S. later this month, but the first available appointment was Sept. 29. Instead, he is traveling to the northeast city of Shenyang for an interview next week, at a cost of more than 1,000 renminbi, or about $150. "I have to ask for one day off from work and pay for round-trip train tickets and one night hotel in Shenyang because I need to be at the consulate early in the morning," he said.

For Hawaiian Airlines Inc., the visa delays are the largest single reason the Honolulu-based airline hasn't expanded into China even as it pursues new routes elsewhere in fast-growing Asia.

While the U.S. maintains a strong global brand in tourism, "this tremendous appeal is stymied by having people go through a difficult, expensive and degrading process to get a visa," said the carrier's chief executive, Mark Dunkerley.

U.S. officials say they are stretching resources as much as possible to meet the rapid growth in visa demand in many countries while still meeting security imperatives. The State Department is boosting productivity, doubling the number of shifts in a day and shifting consular staff to high-demand sites. Officials say the expansion takes time given the expense and effort involved in adding new trained staff with U.S. security clearances.

With the latest efforts, the State Department plans to expand its capacity to review visa applicants by 30% this year and next year for high-demand countries such as Brazil and China. Officials say they strongly support the goal of drawing people into the U.S. to spend their money here.

"This is clearly a good problem to have," Mr. Zients said. "It means there is strong and growing interest in visiting the U.S."

What Sundeep Reddy does not mention is that China and Brazil, two countries mentioned in his article are also sources for illegal immigration. That is the reason that there is such a delay for citizens of both countries.

A snapshot of Brazilian illegal immigration:

MetroWest Daily News October 17, 2009

Striking a nerve among both advocates and critics, a recently released study based on 2007 data found an estimated 71 percent of the region's adult Brazilian immigrants living here illegally.

The inclusion of that figure has local Brazilians feeling singled out, worried about further immigration crackdowns and afraid the community's merchants, taxpayers and legal residents will be included in the same broad brush strokes, says Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

While Millona calls fears of study-driven crackdowns understandable but unwarranted, she sees the report as evidence of the need for comprehensive immigration reform, an initiative President Barack Obama has vowed to tackle after health care.

"They're part of the work force, they're part of the fabric, they're raising citizen children," she said of illegal immigrants. "The numbers are an indication that our immigration system is broken, that it's dysfunctional."

But the nation has plenty of immigration laws already and simply needs to enforce them, says Jim Rizoli, a Framingham Town Meeting member who is familiar with the report.

Rizoli co-founded the group Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement and criticizes illegal immigration on his cable access television show. His organization was featured earlier this year in an investigative story by the Southern Poverty Law Center about hate groups. Rizoli has repeatedly defended his positions as being non-racist nor motivated by hate.

"I don't see one aspect of our life that isn't being impacted by illegal immigrants," he said, citing crime, schooling and health care costs, unlicensed drivers, and snatched jobs, at least during the economic downturn.

The study included a separate report on Dominicans and has been overseen by the Brazilian Immigrant Center in Allston, UMass-Boston, Harvard University, San Diego State University and the University of Southern California.

The study subjects were chosen because they are the two most populous immigrant groups in the state, after the Chinese, with Greater Boston's Brazilian community growing from the mid-90s on and now the largest of its kind in the country.

Researchers said they wanted to provide comprehensive socioeconomic and health information to inform policy-making, such as Gov. Deval Patrick's upcoming proposal to incorporate immigrants more fully into the state's economic and civic spheres.

Study investigators conducted extensive interviews with 307 Brazilian immigrants with both legal and illegal status in Framingham, Marlborough, Somerville and Everett in 2007, then extrapolated their data for the region. Among the findings:

URoughly 80 percent were in their prime working years, with less than 20 percent under 20 and about 2 percent older than 55.

While 71 percent of the adults were here illegally, just 16 percent of the children were, with the vast majority holding U.S. citizenship.

Regardless of legal status, 95 percent of men held a job, as did 80 percent of women. Together they earned nearly $8,000 less than the yearly regional average, and while more research is called for, the Brazilians appeared to hold jobs others did not want or had left for better options.

Less than 1 percent relied on welfare. [What does that mean? It does not say they don't use it, they just don't "rely" on it.]

Two out of three plan to spend retirement in Brazil.

Nearly nine in 10 had access to a car.

On the whole, only 4.7 percent from the community had been arrested before, but 7.6 percent of those here legally had, compared to 3.5 of those here illegally.

Roughly one in four spoke English very well. [Three out of four don't.]

Six in 10 legal immigrants paid taxes, but only four in 10 here illegally did.

Some of the results were clarified or challenged by local Brazilians, however. Fatinha Kerr, the executive director of the nonprofit Marlborough Community Services, said the percentage of those here illegally needed to be updated in light of the flattened economy and fallout from raids in New Bedford and elsewhere.

"From my own experience, the numbers seem way high to me," she said.

More recently, Kerr said, she is encountering more Brazilians with documentation, including citizenship. Even when the economy recovers, she believes the federal crackdowns and improved conditions in Brazil mean residents are not likely to take as many risky journeys to enter the United States covertly.

"I think those days are over," she said.

A cornerstone of the argument that immigrants of all stripes contribute to the economy, the tax findings also drew scrutiny.

Fernando Castro, the owner of Income Tax Plus in downtown Framingham, pointed to the thriving business his tax preparation firm and other local competitors catering to Brazilians continue to enjoy even in the downturn.

"I think it's flawed," he said of the tax payment figures, pointing to the study's small sample size. "I don't think they got the right numbers." [But they got the right numbers on welfare?]

The final topic that the Brazilian report explored was health, discovering a relatively sound population, apar from extra mental distress linked at least in part to many members' illegal residency. The study found that while most immigrants still managed to find care, 75 percent of men and 55 percent of women here illegally lacked health insurance, a figure that dropped to 40 percent for both sexes here legally.

The state covers illegal immigrants' emergency room visits, and they can tap services like the MetroWest Free Medical Program, run out of two area churches.

Last year, Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach also announced a pilot program providing 50 illegal immigrants with subsidized health insurance to see if outcomes improved and costs went down, but department staff did not returned repeated calls seeking an update.

President Obama has explicitly said illegal immigrants will not be covered in proposed national health care reform. If and when that effort is completed, he has vowed to move on to immigration.

"I think Congress has an opportunity to come up with a great comprehensive system for reform," Millona said. "We are optimistic the reform will happen."

It is obvious that most illegal aliens from Brazil entered with tourist visas and remained. Now they provided the subservient labor that WSJ readers want.

And as for Chinese "tourists:"

Illegal Chinese Immigrants to the United States

United States immigration officials estimate that 30,000 Chinese illegal aliens enter the U.S. every year. China has refused to take back an estimated 39,000 citizens that have been denied permission to immigrate into the United States, filling detention centers at great expense to American taxpayers.

The number of illegal Chinese immigrants in the United States is small compared to the millions of Mexicans and Central Americans that enter the country illegally every year. The Chinese immigrant issue didn't even make the news until 1993 when a ship named the Golden Venture ran aground off New York City and 10 illegal Chinese immigrants died when they tried to escape. During one two year period many Chinese were smuggled from Canada through a Mohawk reservation in the United States, with Native American smugglers making an estimated $170 million. The story was the subject of the movie Frozen River.

Illegal Chinese immigrants that make it to the United States disappear into the Chinese communities after reaching their destinations. In New York many get jobs in sweat shops or restaurants where they say the "live like pigs and eat like dogs." Some are forced into prostitution to pay off smugglers. A man who finds a factory job, paying $1,800 a month figures he can pay back smugglers in three years.

Those who don’t make it in their effort to get into the United States often try again. Some are turned away three or four times before they finally make it.

Book: The Snakehead: The Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream by Patrick Raddeb Keefe (Doubleday, 2009).

Remember China has a per capita income of $1,700. Hardly enough for an airline ticket, much less supporting hotels, bellhops, waitresses, chamber maids and the rest of the tourism industry. More likely the WSJ and the tourism industry are searching for more and cheaper workers, not customers.

More importantly, half of the illegal aliens in the U.S. overstay a non-immigrant visa that Obama and the WSJ want to grant more generously.

NPR June 14, 2006

Today, the government announced the arrests of more than 2,000 illegal immigrants who snuck back into the country after being deported. That word came from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

That type of operation is pretty rare and as NPR's Ted Robbins reports, there have been no operations focused on the millions of immigrants who came to this country legally, then became what are called visa overstays.

TED ROBBINS reporting:

Nearly half the twelve million people illegally in the country didn't cross the desert or pay a smuggler. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, they crossed legally at a port of entry just like this one at Douglas, Arizona.

Unidentified Man: Hello, ma'am. Where do you live now?

ROBBINS: They came on a visitor, student or work visa and they stayed after it expired and disappeared inside the U.S. So many people think interior enforcement is the real challenge.

Mr. MIKE CUTLER (Formerly of INS) The interior enforcement is more than just going after people who work here illegally, although that is an important component of interior enforcement. It also means tracking down those people who failed to depart when they're supposed to.

ROBBINS: Mike Cutler is a former investigator with the INS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He believes visa violators pose greater security risks than illegal border crossers.

Mr. CUTLER: In fact, the 19 terrorists who attacked our country on 9/11 all entered the United States through ports of entry.

ROBBINS: At least six of the 9/11 hijackers had overstayed their visas. In 2003, the INS was split into ICE and CVP. ICE now handles interior enforcement and Cutler is now a vocal critic of the relative lack of resources it gets compared with CVP, or Customs and Border Protection.

Mr. CUTLER: It's kind of like securing your house and then giving out keys to your house to anybody walking by.

ROBBINS: The Border Patrol has about 12,000 agents and lots of technology. ICE has about half that number tracking everything from potential terrorists to counterfeit goods.

Ms. MARCY FOREMAN (Immigration and Customs Enforcement): There's certainly challenges, but we're working within the scope of the resources we have.

ROBBINS: Marcy Foreman heads all investigations for ICE. She says the agency now has a task force to find visa violators. But she says its first priority -

Ms. FOREMAN: Is national security versus those that may just be attending school here whose visas may have expired.

ROBBINS: Last year, ICE caught about 8,000 visa overstays, mostly as a byproduct of other investigations, such as using the terrorist watch list. Mike Cutler says it should be easier to track visa overstays.

Mr. CUTLER: If you send a package by FedEx or some other forwarding agency, you can tell minute by minute exactly where your package is. It doesn't seem that the technology should be all that difficult.

ROBBINS: But Marcy Foreman says with the different databases, ICE can find any overstay.

Ms. FOREMAN: Right now, we're able to track everyone who comes into the country who receives a visa.

ROBBINS: Visa holders are supposed to be tracked with the U.S. Visit Program. Using finger scans and photos, U.S. Visit processes visitors at ports of entry. But after more than two years, only a handful of ports are equipped to track exits an the system still does not fully interface with other databases.

Arizona Republican Congressman Jim Colby, who represents a border district, says visa overstays and interior enforcement in general get less attention because the media overwhelmingly focus on the border and Congress reacts to the media.

Representative JIM COLBY (Republican, Arizona): It's hard to talk about on TV. You can't show a visual of this, of people clambering over the fence, of coming through the desert. If you're talking about people who overstay their visas, it's just not a terribly - excuse the word, but - sexy kind of thing to talk about. I think you're about the first time I've ever had an interview on this with anybody.

ROBBINS: Legislation currently being debated calls for 800 more ICE investigators in the next four years. Compare that to 6,000 more Border Patrol agents in the same period.

Clearly the WSJ is in on the full court press attacking enforcement.

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