YESTERDAY WE PUBLISHED on the opposite page a description of the "green-card hell" experienced by a British subject living in Washington who -- thanks to pointless immigration red tape -- was unable to leave this country to celebrate his father's 90th birthday. It's only one story, but there are many similar ones having to do with immigration to this country since the rules changed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Over the past two years, nuclear physicists, wealthy business executives and ordinary tourists have been subjected to unreasonable delays and inexplicable refusals from the immigration service. Foreign students are afraid to return home for brief visits, their colleagues no longer wish to study here at all and America's reputation as an open society has been badly damaged.
Until now, the Bush administration has seemed largely unmoved by these stories, apparently viewing the bad publicity they generate abroad as a necessary byproduct of the war on terrorism. In an interview with editors and reporters of The Post this week, however, Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, agreed that the current situation is "not in the best interests of a country that has a tradition of being open and welcoming and diverse." Mr. Ridge said that whenever he goes abroad, visa policy is the first thing U.S. ambassadors want to discuss with him. That situation has, he said, led him to feel it is time to reexamine some of the adjustments to visa policy that were made after Sept. 11, including, among other things, bringing back a modified form of transit visa.
We encourage him in his efforts to "adjust the adjustments," and look forward to hearing more about them.