The Missing Americans Project

Looking for People and Answers

The State Department's Misplaced Priorities

For over a year, we and the other families of the Missing Americans Project have been trying to get the State Department to take more than a perfunctory interest in the plight of U.S. citizens who disappear in foreign countries and their families. We've received little to no help. The State Department is profoundly uninterested in these issues.

During the same period, a colleague and friend of mine has been trying to get her family members in the Philippines permission to come to the United States for her wedding. The State Department has strenuously resisted letting this happen for reasons that only someone who works for the federal government could possibly understand (something to do with the fact that one or more of her cousins are nurses and might decide to stay here).

U.S. citizens who get into trouble abroad and their families are on their own. Swaths of Arizona have been ceded to the Mexican drug cartels. And the State Department is sufficiently afraid of a few more health-care workers coming into the country that they will ruin the wedding of two U.S. citizens.

You can't make this stuff up.

Why do you suppose State is being so fussy about my friend's six family members? I don't know, but I do know that they collected almost $1,000 in non-refundable application fees from these poor people before turning them down. If you multiply this process by however many people in the Philippines are trying to visit family members in the U.S., you're talking about quite a lucrative little operation. If the process is similar in other countries, you're talking about an amazing racket.

What are these fees funding? Aren't our tax dollars sufficient to maintain a system that doesn't want to help us when we need help?

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