October 28, 2002
WHAT REPORTERS MISSED IN THAT GAO REPORT ON VISAS.
The most recent AFSA media watch highlights reporting on the GAO report issued this week on Strengthening Visa Processing. The reporting is very critical of the Department. What the journalists did NOT highlight was something buried in a paragraph on page 16. There’s a sentence there in the section on “Pressures to Issue Visas” which reads “In addition, post officials cited cases of pressure from Members of Congress who sent letters asking why consular officers denied certain visas.” Then follows what AFSA considers a very significant statistic. “In fiscal year 2001, the non-immigrant visa section in Cairo received 202 congressional inquiries, an average of nearly 4 each week.” Four requests a week from Congress to issue someone a visa at just one diplomatic post! Why did the GAO stop with Cairo? I wonder what the statistics for Santo Domingo and Manila look like. It’s too bad the reporters didn’t pick up on that one.
Published by permission of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)