T-O-O Many Visas; an "O" Genius Visa for Playboy Playmate?

Published on July 7th, 2012

When I read that 2010 Playboy Playmate and Hugh Hefner’s former concubine Shera Bechard qualified for a so-called “genius visa,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Since June was such a grim month for the patriotic immigration reform movement with President Obama’s executive order that removes aliens age 16 to 30 from possible deportation, levity would be welcome under most circumstances. But not these circumstances! My ongoing disgust with what a sham the United States’ nonimmigrant visa system is far outweighed my temporary amusement with Bechard.

The Canadian-born Bechard doesn’t meet the traditional genius requirement like, according to government standards, having received: "an internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize.” Bechard’s most notable achievement is that she created the online photo sharing game, “Frisky Friday.” Who knows? Maybe “Frisky Friday” will evolve into the next Facebook.

In an interesting confession posted on her website, Bechard admitted: “…I’m not a genius.”

But Bechard has something more important than valid credentials for an O visa, namely a good immigration lawyer. The fact that Bechard beat the system so easily isn’t a surprise. A similar case involving a sort of singer, sort of dancer named Dorsimar who starred in a television show titled Latinas Gone Crazy was chronicled here by my Senior Writing Fellow colleague Rob Sanchez.

Visa exploitation is a more pressing problem than illegal immigration. The F, J, K, O, R, T and the old standby H-1B are fraud vehicles that Capitol Hill should crack down on. Instead, even though about 20 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed, the relentless push for more visas continues harder than ever.

Advocates use “skilled” as the buzzword to sell their argument. But the alphabet soup of visa categories has allowed prostitutes, pole dancers, car salesmen and dozens of other menial workers – all claiming to be skilled – into the United States.

Even though there have been dozens of frauds, including those perpetrated by terrorists, the media keeps parroting Congress’ claim that America needs more workers.

But why aren’t the following cases cited more effectively as a counterargument to increasing visas?

  1. In 2010, a Pakistani-born former H-1B visa holder was arrested in connection with a Times Square bombing plot. An unrepentant Faisal Shahzad confessed to ten terrorism-related counts. Read the Center for Immigration Studies blog here.
  2. Terrorist bomber Farooque Ahmed, another “skilled immigrant” who most likely entered on a temporary student visa confessed to his involvement in the 2010 plot to blow up the Washington, D.C. Metro system. Rob Sanchez’s account is here.

Once in a while, a truly skilled worker or student legitimately acquires a visa. But the results aren’t always what are hoped for.

On February 28, 2007, a random security search at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport revealed that Hanjuan Jin, a Chinese-born former Motorola, Inc. engineer, was taking a one-way trip to Beijing with more than 1,000 corporate documents and $30,000 in cash. Jin, 41, a Notre Dame graduate who joined Motorola in 1998, had returned from a yearlong medical leave of absence just two days earlier.

Federal prosecutors accused her of working for Kai Sun News (Beijing) Technology Co., a Chinese military affiliate. Subsequently, a Chicago federal judge ruled that Jin was guilty of stealing trade secrets. [Hunjuan Jin, ex-Motorola Engineer, Found Guilty of Stealing Trade Secrets, by Samantha Stainburn, Global Post, February 8, 2012]

The U.S. issues too many visas to too many people for too many frivolous reasons. America has an excess of workers (the current U-6 unemployment rate is 14.5 percent) and acute overpopulation. Few visa holders go home which exacerbates the nation’s existing socio-economic burdens.

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