Monday, August 4, 2008

Just How Arbitrary Is Immigration? Scientist to be deported for imperfect profile photos.

Just how arbitrary and inflexible is U.S. Immigration? So arbitrary that they are about to deport a scientist with a top security clearance who has been working to make us safe from bio-terrorism because of bureaucratic snafus that would rival Joseph Heller (Catch 22). Katarzyna Dziewanowska is a Polish born scientist recruited to the University of Idaho in 1994 and has been involved in studying methods of fighting biological agents, such as the plague, that could be used in germ warfare. Her travails began in 2003 when she applied for Permanent Residency. She submitted her application and an application for a work permit.

While immigration officials considered her application, she was required to apply annually for temporary work permits called employment authorization documents.

In the fall of 2004 her application for a permit was rejected because she had submitted a profile photo rather than a face-forward one as required under new rules. She sent a face-forward photo, but that was rejected because officials said it included glare on one lens of her glasses.

In a letter in September 2004, immigration officials wrote, "There is no appeal to this decision."

By then, her previous work permit had expired.

Dziewanowska said the university's human rights office told her she could keep working during a 240-day grace period, a claim The Spokesman-Review found was supported by Cherasia and e-mail records.

During that period Dziewanowska worked on finding ways to protect against humans from bioterrorist attacks with the plague, but the university's advice that she could keep working turned out to be incorrect.

Immigrations officials then told her that, because she had worked illegally for eight months without a work permit, her application for permanent residency was being rejected.

In April 2005 the university told her to stop working.

Dr. Sziewanowska is now set to be deported, as is her son. She had just recently purchased a home and now will lose both her job and her home. Immigration insists that there is no room for good faith mistakes. If U.S. immigration can ensnare a scientist, well-versed in the English language, in this bureaucratic Catch 22, imagine how the system handles the cases of immigrant laborers.

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