Here’s a tip for anyone filling out immigration forms. When answering the questions about whether you have ever done certain things, if you have, it is probably going to cause you problems. For example, when the State Department’s immigrant visa application form, the DS-260, asks:
Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
expect that answering Yes will result in the denial of a visa.
Similarly, after answering scores of questions about being a Nazi or a Communist or supporting terrorism or recruiting child soldiers, when questions like this appears:
Have you ever been unlawfully present, overstayed the amount of time granted by an immigration official or otherwise violated the terms of a U.S. visa? or
Have you ever been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than one year or more than one year in the aggregate at any time during the last 10 years?
simple observation of the context of the questions should lead one to conclude that if he indeed did overstay the amount of time granted by an immigration official, it could mean problems.
In fact, the biggest laughs that people experience in my office is when we go over these questions on forms. Clients invariably ask, “Who would actually answer Yes to these questions?” The implication being, “Who would actually answer Yes to these questions and expect to get a visa?” The answer, John Oliver, from the Bailiwick of Jersey, in England, the home of our common law tradition and from at least the time of the Magna Carta the concept of the rule of law – that all people must obey the law.
Fox News reported on poor Mr. Oliver. Here’s what Mr. Oliver did:
He and his wife came to the United States under the Visa Waiver program. Readers of this blog know this is a program where people from a few favored nations (favored because their citizens have a low rate of overstaying visas in the United States) can enter the United States without visas. The rule is clear and people who fill out a form online before they come are told – if you overstay the 90 days, you will be subject to deportation. Here is the warning everyone applying for permission to come to the U.S. without a visa receives:
If upon application for admission to the United States at a port of entry you are admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by a US Customs and Border Protection Officer, you may not accept unauthorized employment; or attend school; or represent the foreign information media during your visit under the program. You may not apply for: 1) a change of nonimmigrant status, 2) an extension of stay, or 3) adjustment of status to temporary or permanent resident, unless eligible under section 245(c)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Violation of these terms will subject you to REMOVAL.
After coming to the United States under the Visa Waiver program, he did one of the things you cannot do – overstay. He had an excuse, though. His sickly wife started dying. They came in October 2011 and she died in November 2012, so she started dying more than a year before she finished the process. It was not until a year after that that he finally left the United States.
According to the Fox article, Mr. Oliver worked tirelessly to obtain a green card, permanent residence status. This should not have been a huge problem as he was entitled to apply for permanent residence as the father of a United States citizen. The article indicates he began working on this shortly after he arrived, so it is quite astonishing that he could not get it done quickly. Perhaps Englishmen on the Isle of Jersey have difficulty parsing the language and instructions on forms of USCIS despite their being written in English or despite his considerable wealth. He is a retired corporate accountant) and his United States citizen son is an (early?) retired financial IT guy who retired from a major pharmaceutical company. The son is also a caring Conservative.
The article states that Mr. Oliver’s application to adjust status was denied by USCIS. The article does not say why? Could it be because he was a terrorist, an alien smuggler, a money launderer? A habitual drunkard? Old English white guys are just as capable of these things as younger, darker skinned people. The article does not say. What are we hiding here? Fox News, show us the loofah!
Then, Oliver, this modern incarnation of Clarence Darrow, after his denial, does he consult with an attorney to see if he was really ineligible for a green card? No, he gets infuriated at his denial and writes a letter to the President of the United States, doing what disgruntled old people do as entertainment after watching Matlock reruns — writing angry letters. And, to no one’s surprise, our Muslim, Atheist, Fascist, Communist, African-born, drug-taking, America-hating President does not personally intercede on his behalf – the poor, visa waiver overstaying (law breaking), I promise to stay 90 days and leave (promise breaking) foreigner.
Then what does this modern-day Albert Einstein do next? He storms off to Merry ol’ England and applies to come back to the United States from there. Note, he left in October 2013, nearly a year after his wife died and two years after he promised not to stay in the United States for more than 90 days. And, ignoring everything he read on forms or could read on the USCIS website and the Department of State website, if they were not written in the English language apparently undecipherable to people from the Channel Islands, he figured that his overstaying in the United States for nearly two years would be overlooked because, after all, he is old and English (the white kind of English, not one of those woggy or coloured kind) and his wife died.
And why not expect special consideration despite there being no legal justification? For one thing, the law about overstays is clear. If you overstay for a year and leave, then you cannot come back for ten years unless you can show extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent – relatives poor Mr. Oliver does not have. INA § 212(a)(9)(B). Obama did not write the law. The U.S. Consulate in London did not write the law. Congress wrote the law and that other Democratic president, the drug-smuggling, best-friend-killing Bill Clinton, signed it in 1996.
Mr. Oliver now wants someone to do something about it. He expects to be let back into the United States despite breaking the laws about overstaying his stay here – despite being warned of the consequences several times in several ways. Should anyone expect U.S. Consular authorities to issue visas to people patently ineligible for them if they are old enough and white enough? I mean, as the Fox article points out, if Obama lets in women and children make asylum claims because they face death in Latin America, rendered virtually uninhabitable because of U.S. supported drug wars, gangs made up of deportees from the United States, and despotic oligarchs supported by the U.S. military and giant plantation-owning conglomerates, as the United States must under U.S. statutes and international treaty commitments, or gives work permits to kids who were brought to the United States as children under existing legal authority and the respected concept that a prosecutor’s decision about initiating actions against individuals should not be assailed, certainly a Consulate can break the law for one old wealthy English white man.
Mr. Oliver is also enlisting the help of Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez as well as Congressman Scott Garrett to help. He should stick with Bob Menendez, a Latin-American anchor baby who allegedly knows how to break the law.
Every day people who “should” get visas don’t. People with minor criminal convictions in the distant past. People who made false claims to citizenship as teenagers. People whose parents took them in and out of the country as children. People with controversial tattoos. Civil servants from disfavored regimes. People who donated to the wrong charity. People who admitted to inhaling (or not inhaling) in college. Further, every day USCIS gives out bad advise through their unmonitored information systems where the least experienced officers explain a law of great complexity to the public.
Appalled at the treatment of Mr. Oliver? Then support the following changes to the law:
1. Estopp the government from enforcing laws if government functionaries give faulty advice;
2. End the 3 and 10 year bars of inadmissibility and the permanent bar for illegal entry after accruing unlawful presence;
3. Eliminate the bars to adjustment of status and change of status for visa waiver entrants;
4. Allow visa entrants to extend their statuses;
5. Allow for judicial review of Consular decisions;
6. Insist on monitoring and reporting on what Information Officers tell the public;
7. Reassess the criminal grounds and drug-use grounds of inadmissibility;
8. Get rid of the false-claim to U.S. citizenship unwaivable ground of inadmissibility;
9. Reduce the number of forms asking the same things over and over again;
10. Rationalize the adjustment of status of status and immigrant visa issuing processes.
If Fox News does not want to get behind these sensible reforms or to get behind fixing the immigration system overall, then it should stop their fussing over Mr. Oliver, a guy who failed to follow the rules or to seek help when he was over his head. The law applies to everyone – even angry, letter-writing , politically-connected, compassionately Conservative, Anglo-Saxon, old, white, male immigration law violators. Besides, one John Oliver in America is enough. Posted September 13, 2015.