Use of third party screeners of Saudi visa applicants is banned by act of Congress and the State Department screeners are going to be replaced by Homeland Security personnel. Even after 9/11 only 3% of Saudi visa applicants have been rejected versus 25% worldwide. The State Department apparently believes that it works for the Saudis.
In the new Homeland Security bill just passed by both houses of Congress, stricter visa controls were enacted for people wishing to gain entry to the United States from one specific country: Saudi Arabia. The only people who lobbied against the policy — taking the Saudi royal family's position — were officials at the State Department.
Just two sentences of a 400-page bill spell out the two new requirements. The policy prohibits "third-party screening programs" — the most famous example of which is Visa Express, which allowed Saudi residents to submit their visa applications to private Saudi travel agents — and every Saudi visa application must be reviewed by an onsite Homeland Security officer before a visa can be issued.
Update: Washington Post writer Colbert King describes a visit by a Saudi delegation with Washington Post editors and writers in which the Saudis saw no inconsistency when they complained about this change in the law while their own country's rules about visitors are enormously more strict.
By tightening visa regulations, one of them said, America is closing off an important avenue by which Saudis can learn about Western values, transmitting same back home. "Shame, shame, you ol' retrogrades," seemed to be the message.
Curiously, nary a visitor uttered one word about Saudi Arabia's "enlightened" visa policy.
What are your chances of visiting Saudi Arabia alone as a tourist? Slim to none. Join an approved tour group, get your itinerary blessed by the government, and then maybe, just maybe, you can enter the kingdom. Does your passport show that you were born in Israel? Prepare to wait until kingdom come.
The Saudis are disgusting. They are funding the spread of ideas that are deeply hostile to the West. They even fund the spread of those ideas in the United States. We owe these people nothing. Their religious belief is that they have every right to force people to believe only their religion. Intolerance for other religions is a core belief in their religion. They do not share our values or our intellectual assumptions about democracy, human rights, or other ideas of The Enlightenment. Our conflict with them runs far deeper than a clash of competing national interests. We clash over incompatible values.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2002 November 23 01:54 PM Immigration Border Control|