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December 01, 2006

EASTERN EUROPE IS UNHAPPY WITH THE UNITED STATES: "'Our boys are good enough to die in Iraq, but not good enough to get a tourist visa in America,' a senior Baltic politician complained to me recently."

We should be making nice to them. Very nice. It doesn't cost much, and they'll notice. And it's the right thing to do.

UPDATE: Reader Ben Poulos emails:

The people complaining definitely have cause. It is extremely hard for most people to get a visa, even student visas, and when someone in the US is willing to sponsor the applicants (like family visits or similar friendly visits)

One of the major problems is the cost; we charge $100 for each application, and then there is another charge for the visa, if approved.

For some context, $100 dollars in Ukraine is about 2 months pay for a basic job. Not even a bad job; just a normal job. It's a huge barrier for people who want to come here for a visit. Pretty much the only people who can pay the cost are the really rich, and the mafia. The majority of the people in a country can't afford the visit.

I realize that the money is intended to keep non serious applicants from gumming up the works. However, there are other ways we can provide disincentives to non-serious visa applications, and still make it possible for normal people to apply for a visa. We should at least have a program where the fee can be waved in certain situations. The fee is also meant to pay for our costs, but $100 dollars seems a bit much for a 15 minute visa interview.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Rank emails:

Eastern Europeans are getting the short end of the stick, definitely. However, as EU accession occurs, things should become somewhat less stringent. That's the hope among the people I know there.

Strange, immigration demands high ratings, officially, for Eastern Europeans because they could come here and stay illegally, perhaps being exploited, adding to the crime rate, and/or "doing jobs Americans won't do." The question then is, why just them?

Perhaps the Romanians and Bulgarians need to sue us for discrimination. Until they do that, I'm not sure a group of people who understand the horror of socialism and the expansionism of Islam would be the sort of chap this country needs.

Yes, we couldn't have that. And another longtime reader/emailer writes:

Ben Poulos is correct. My wife is from Poland, she and her mother are now US Citizens living here. My wife's sister is a surgical nurse living in Warsaw. She is married, they own a home and have 3 teenage children.

My wife's sister has been trying to get a tourist visa for 4 years. She wants to visit her mother, who is 82, before she dies. She can't get one because - she is told - she is too likely to overstay her visa and stay here illegally. She's offered to put up the deed to her house as a bond, but she's ignored.

(If you publish this, please don't use my name)

Meanwhile illegal immigrants from Mexico face few barriers.