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Sample Letter #2- Student Visas



Your Address
Your City ST 12345

Dear Senator/Representative:

In the wake of the devastating attacks on our nation on September 11, questions have been raised about international students who receive visas to study at American colleges.

International students represent a relatively small number of those who receive visas to enter the United States each year. According to the most recent Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) data, a total of 31.4 million non-immigrant visas were issued in 1999. Of that number, roughly 558,000 or 1.8 percent of the total were educational visas and just 9,500 of these were for short-term vocational training. We recognize that the small proportion of visas issued to foreign students does not obviate their scrutiny and even a single lapse in security is unacceptable. However, singling out only student visas for added scrutiny is unlikely to make a significant difference to national security.

We strongly encourage the Congress to evaluate the visa issuance process and to probe it carefully for any weaknesses. The nation's colleges are fully committed to helping strengthen our capacity to protect the United States from terrorism. International students cannot be enrolled at an American college without receiving a visa from the State Department and we look to that agency for guidance on potential security risks. In addition, colleges work with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials to assist in investigations and to inform students, administrators, and faculty about current laws regarding international visitors.

However, more can and should be done. In particular, we recommend two policy changes that could be implemented immediately.

First, funding should be provided to increase significantly the number of State Department consular officials at U.S. embassies. This will permit more extensive interviews and background checks of individuals applying for visas. At present, given the large number of visa applicants and the small size of many U.S. consular offices abroad, embassy staff often find that they are unable to devote little more than a few minutes to each application and interview session. Second, Congress should provide funding to the INS to permit the prompt implementation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), also known as CIPRIS. This program was designed to be self-financed through the collection of student fees but INS has been unable to develop a suitable and workable collection system. Full federal financing will eliminate the underlying administrative problems related to the collection of fees that have plagued this initiative. Once in place, SEVP/CIPRIS will track the academic activities of international students and will provide immediate notification to federal officials of any change in status such as finishing a degree or changing an academic major that may affect a student's visa. A number of other specific proposals have been suggested. These ideas include: a 30-day delay in the issuance of a visa in order to permit extensive background checks; a bar code visa identification system that would alert authorities to visitors who have overstayed their visas; tighter limitations for countries with high incidences of visa theft; and a requirement that schools or businesses notify the INS within a two-week period about a visa holder who fails to appear at an expected destination. While we have not seen the details of these proposals and therefore are not in a position to endorse them, all are thoughtful recommendations and merit careful consideration. In addition, at a later date, we encourage Congress to consider more fundamental changes. Federal rules and regulations governing immigration policy have not kept up with the massive increase in international mobility that has taken place over the past twenty-five years. We encourage Congress to hold extensive hearings for the purpose of crafting an immigration policy appropriate for the 21st Century and to restructure the INS accordingly. Such a review should focus on the need for a better capacity to monitor all foreign visitors, regardless of the type of visa they receive. But we emphasize that such a review should take place in the future and should not delay the enactment of any urgently needed reforms.

We believe that closing the loopholes that have been or could be exploited by those intending to harm the United States and our citizens also represents the best means to lift the cloud of suspicion and fear that has begun to jeopardize the international exchange of students and scholars. International exchanges have served our nation well throughout its history. The overwhelming majority of students who come here to study return to their home countries as ambassadors for American values, democracy, and the free market. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Jordan's King Abdullah II, and Mexican President Vicente Fox all attended American universities. Curtailing these exchanges would only deprive our nation of one of its best tools for extending democratic values throughout the world, making us more susceptible to the distortions and myths of extremist organizations and movements.

We look forward to working with you to accomplish these important objectives and again pledge the full support of the higher education community in this effort.

Your Name Here







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Its passage, we read on all sides, is a foregone conclusion, as if what the country now faces is not a decision but the disclosure of a fate. The nation marches as if in a trance to war. opposition to the war. In the Senate, Robert Byrd has mounted a campaign against the version of the resolution already proposed by the Bush Administration. He has said that the resolution's unconstitutionality will prevent him from voting for it. But I am finding, he adds, that the Constitution is irrelevant to people of this Administration. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the Washington Post, oppose the war. Polls and news stories reveal a divided and uncertain public. Yet debate in your chambers is restricted to peripheral questions, such as the timing of the vote, or the resolution's precise scope. You are a deliberative body, but you do not deliberate. You are representatives, but you do not represent. The silence of those of you in the Democratic Party is especially troubling. 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VASenator_John_Warner,VASenator_George_Allen,VTSenator_James_Jeffords,VTSenator_Patrick_Leahy, WASenator_Maria_Cantwell,WASenator_Patty_Murray,WISenator_Herb_Kohl,WISenator_Russell_Feingold, WVSenator_Robert_Byrd,WVSenator_John_Rockefeller,WYSenator_Craig_Thomas,WYSenator_Michael_Enzi, The public's increasing use of e-mail plus anthrax anxiety pushed the volume of e-mail going to Congress up by 50 percent during 2001, according to the Congressional Management Foundation. House and Senate offices received about 120 million e-mail messages this year, up from 80 million in 2000, according to a survey by the foundation and the Congress Online Project. Because of the discovery of anthrax in Capitol Hill offices and mail rooms, delivery of U.S. mail to all House office buildings was temporarily suspended. All incoming mail to the Capitol complex now undergoes irradiation for possible contaminants, a process which slows the delivery of mail.That means that any constituent who sends a letter to my Washington office may experience a significant delay in response. Anyone who would like to contact me may do so via phone, email or through one of my district offices.Be advised that mail coming to my Washington D.C. office will have delays, as our mail continues to be screened due to last year's anthrax letters. If you need immediate assistance please contact my District Offices.The enacting clause was prescribed by law in 1871 and is identical in all bills, whether they originate in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. Bills may originate in either the House of Representatives or the Senate with one notable exception provided in the Constitution. of the Constitution provides that all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives but that the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. By tradition, general appropriation bills also originate in the House of Representatives.There are two types of bills -- public and private. A public bill is one that affects the public generally. A bill that affects a specified individual or a private entity rather than the population at large is called a private bill. A typical private bill is used for relief i n matters such as immigration and naturalization and claims against the United States. A bill originating in the House of Representatives is designated by the letters "H.R." followed by a number that it retains throughout all its parliamentary stages. The letters signify House of Representatives and not, as is sometimes incorrectly assumed, House resolution. A Senate bill is designated by the letter S. followed by its number. The term companion bill is used to describe a bill introduced in one House of Congress that is similar or identical to a bill introduced in the other House of Congress.A bill that has been agreed to in identical form by both bodies becomes the law of the land only after --Presidential approval; or failure by the President to return it with objections to the House in which it originated within 10 days while Congress is in session; or the overriding of a presidential veto by a two-thirds vote in each House.Congressional Record.