Sunday, April 15, 2007

Of Visa Lottery Travails & Payback Time

US Ambassador James F. Moriarty has urged a group of agitating Nepalis to “think first about their families, lives, and future in Nepal, and give up this futile protest.”
Amid the more weighty grievances Nepalis of all classes and creeds have been articulating over the past year, the American Diversity Visa Victims Association (ADVVA) has chosen a narrow path.

While empathizing with Nepalis who have lost time and money in a futile quest for that Green Card, one cannot ignore Moriarty’s plight. The lottery as well as the attendant procedures, fees and ultimate privileges are mandated by Congress. The lottery administrators mail out winning notifications to twice as many people as they have visas set aside for. The idea is not every winner is interested, qualified or even alive to secure a visa. Those rules govern all nations eligible to participate in the DV process.

Making an exception for financially strapped Nepalis would require legislative action. So if the ADVVA really wants its grievances addressed, maybe members should flood the offices of Senators and Representatives on the concerned committees with emails. With President George W. Bush striving to make immigration reform his lasting legacy, this may be a propitious time to press the send button.

Some influential legislators are accessible only to constituents through their individual websites, but then it shouldn’t be hard to look up a county and its corresponding ZIP code.
In one sense, though, Moriarty has it wrong. The Nepalis are protesting so vigorously precisely because there are thinking about their families, lives and future in Nepal. His Excellency might want to direct the protest leaders to some previous recipients who seem to have regretted their decision the moment they finally walked passed the immigration officer at the port of entry.

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Sher Bahadur Deuba must be ecstatic. How could he have forgotten that day in early October 2002, when everyone except his Nepali Congress (Democratic) wanted a postponement of the parliamentary elections? He was the first SPA leader to call for a postponement of the constituent assembly election and then hail the subsequent Election Commission announcement.
The marginalization of the monarch who had sacked him twice for incompetence must have meant much to our Brave Lion. Yet Deuba must also be ruing his unfulfilled revenge. From his subsequent comments, one distinctly remembers that Deuba’s real beef was with the Brave Sun.
RPP leader Surya Bahadur Thapa had apparently told Deuba not to falter should King Gyanendra demand his resignation, because he was an elected prime minister. Thapa cited his own experience with King Birendra in 1983, when the prime minister refused to step down without facing a confidence vote in the Rastriya Panchayat.
In that crucial meeting with King Gyanendra, Deuba followed Thapa’s advice. But he didn’t know that the wily RPP leader had already briefed the monarch of his impression that Deuba was too stubborn to resign. In that eventuality, the monarch would do well to sack the premier. A constitutionally unencumbered prime minister would be in the interest of neither the palace nor the people.
The first time Deuba lost the premier’s job was when his former guru Girija Prasad Koirala instigated him into seeking a parliamentary vote of confidence he was not obliged to seek, before spiriting away two Nepali Congress legislators.
With all this talk of a democratic front comprising Koirala, Thapa and other seasoned veterans, Deuba must be the most vigilant politico around.