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Tapping Into Americans' Desire To Emigrate After President Bush's Re-election

by Cyrus Mehta

Editor's Note: This is a tongue-in-cheek article.

Below is an internal strategic planning memo issued the day after President Bush was reelected to a second term.



DATE: November 4, 2004

Now that President Bush has been reelected, this law firm is considering offering special legal services to citizens of the United States who may wish to emigrate to other countries.

While we have plenty of strategic thinking to do before launching these new services, I think it could generate substantial additional revenues for the firm. These revenues would be essential because of diminishing opportunities for immigration lawyers who represent foreign nationals who no longer wish to immigrate to the US or may be unable to do so.

If the Bush administration continues on a similar trajectory in its second term, the US might become an unbearable place even for Americans who have been here for several generations. They too may decide, like millions of immigrants who have come to this country, to seek a better life elsewhere for themselves and their children. We therefore need to find ways to represent this new clientele.

Although one of the main reasons that people voted for President Bush was because of his ability to keep them safe, it may have the converse result. While we hope this is not the case, President Bush will continue to serve as the lightning rod for new terrorist recruits around the world. The war in Iraq, and other wars that will probably be waged in the name of the President’s version of freedom, could cause only more hatred against America. As a result, there will be more terrorists, rather than less, who will be intent on harming America even if he boasts of capturing or killing them or smoking them out of their caves. While we are confident that the President will obviously do everything in his power to prevent terrorism, there is only so much a country can do to insulate its citizens from a multitude of terrorists. If, God forbid, Americans start getting attacked in their own country, they will want to go elsewhere to other countries. Perhaps, other countries might admit them as refugees if they can make a case that the Bush administration is unable to protect them. Other countries could also offer Americans the equivalent of Temporary Protected Status! Our firm should develop the capability to represent Americans in seeking asylum or refugee status in foreign countries.

If an emboldened Bush administration expands the PATRIOT Act, it could allow the government to strip Americans of US citizenship if suspected of terrorism. We should be able to represent such Americans in such citizenship-stripping proceedings. Unfortunately, a Republican dominated Congress might enact this measure without any provision for such a hearing, thereby foreclosing our ability to represent such a person and charge a handsome fee. However, there is potential for this firm to provide value added legal services after the stripping of citizenship. Once such persons are divested of citizenship, they will become stateless and will need expert legal help in finding another country to accept them. Many may seek to acquire the citizenship of their former country, or if they were born in the US, the citizenship of the country of their parents or grandparents.

As America wages perpetual war, resulting in perpetual fear, it may cease to be viewed as an economic power that attracts innovation and global talent. The administration will continue to deport immigrants with even greater intensity, especially those from Muslim countries. Less people will be attracted to this country. Foreigners, particularly students, are already dissuaded from coming into the country because of more stringent visa restrictions. There will be less innovation, and this country will miss the opportunity to create millions of new jobs as we did with technologies associated with the Internet in the 1990s. The limits on stem cell research under the Bush administration will also wrest the US of its leadership in biotechnology innovation. Other countries will take the leadership for such innovation. Creative and ambitious Americans will desire to continue their innovative work in those countries. We will need to represent such Americans in preparing and filing the equivalent of “persons of extraordinary ability” applications in foreign countries. Please research this issue so that we can advise US citizens on the “extraordinary ability” standards in other countries.

The Bush administration has also done nothing to increase the H-1B cap, which was reached on the first day of the new fiscal year. Outsourcing of jobs to other countries will continue and companies like Microsoft will move entire operations overseas if they cannot hire people in the US. Thus, many more Americans will want to compete for these jobs overseas that should have stayed within the US. They will need to obtain work visas in other countries, just like so many foreigners once aspired to obtain the H-1B visa in the US. Many Americans may also want to seek the equivalent of the intra-company L-1 visa to work for a US company in other countries.

On social issues too, many Americans may need to find sanctuary elsewhere. The Bush administration is bound to appoint new judges to the Supreme Court in its second term. The newly constituted Supreme Court could overturn Roe vs. Wade, which provides a woman the constitutional right to either choose to have her child or terminate the pregnancy. If a woman’s choice is abrogated by judges who were specifically appointed for this task, more American women may wish to obtain the equivalent of a B-2 visitor visa to terminate their pregnancies in a country where abortion remains legal. Even if such a woman chooses to give birth to a child, she may wish to do so in a foreign country that confers citizenship based on the American jus soli principle. A child born in the US is automatically a citizen even if the parents are illegal in the country. American parents may wish to desperately cross over to other countries, even illegally, so that their child may acquire the citizenship of another country. We need to know which countries have adopted the jus soli doctrine.

The second term Bush administration may succeed in amending the Constitution to prohibit recognition of same sex marriages, which could also result in the non-recognition of same sex civil unions. This would cause same sex partners to live in countries that would be more accepting of same sex marriages or unions, and enjoy the accompanying benefits that accrue from such recognition. Our firm will need to advise such same-sex partners about the countries that are most receptive to such marriages or unions.

Finally, the deficit will continue to increase substantially under a second Bush administration. Many baby boomers will fear that they will get no social security benefits and would want to retire in a country where the cost of living is lower. Moreover, the environment in the US may have deteriorated to such an extent that it would not be healthy for senior citizens to live out the rest of their lives here. Our firm will assist such individuals in investing their 401 (k) savings in other countries so that they can obtain visas similar to the US Treaty Investor E-2 visa.

To conclude, we should only move ahead with such a plan if President Bush decides to “stay the course” as he promised in his election campaigns. In his victory speech yesterday, however, he uttered these words to those who did not vote for him, “I will need your support and I will earn it.” He also added, “We are one country, one constitution and one future that binds us. When we come together and work together there is no limit to the greatness of America.” If President Bush is able to unite the country and prevent Americans from leaving, it would be best that this law firm stick to its core competency of representing foreign nationals who wish to come to America rather than the reverse. It is also hoped that in this new America, people from all over the world will want to come to it, giving us further reason to shelve the above plan.

This article originally appeared on

About The Author

Cyrus D. Mehta, a graduate of Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, practices immigration law in New York City. He is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) and recipient of the 1997 Joseph Minsky Young Lawyers Award. He is also Secretary of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (ABCNY) and former Chair of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law of the same Association. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of ABCNY or AILF. He frequently lectures on various immigration subjects at legal seminars, workshops and universities and may be contacted in New York at 212-425-0555.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.