US coverage steerage bars communists from settling down

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 10

Members of the Communist Party and its affiliated organisations are barred from seeking immigration to the US, says new policy guidance from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The ground for inadmissibility in or affiliation with the Communist Party or any other totalitarian regime, is a part of the broader set of laws passed by US Congress to address threats to the safety and security of the US, it says.

The policy guidance said it supersedes any related policy release on the topic.

It does not seem to apply to members of Communist Parties in India. A subsequent clause makes it clear that the targets are ruling communist parties in “totalitarian regimes” such as China, Cuba and North Korea. The guidance says the bar applies to members of a single political party, “organised on a dictatorial basis, with so close an identity with its governmental policies, that the party and the government constitute an indistinguishable unit”. No Communist Party in India makes that cut.

Communist party members from countries like India also stand a chance of winning on appeal. If the USCIS official feels the group does not meet the definition [of a single party in a totalitarian regime], the applicant is admissible. The applicant could even suppress this information if there are no membership or dues records and no testimony about attendance of meetings.

“Membership or affiliation is a question of fact for the officer to determine,” said the USCIS. A person will be found inadmissible only if there is oral or written testimony, or a document containing information about current or previous membership.

There are exceptions to “assure family unity” if the applicant has blood relatives as US citizens.

The US has been obsessed with Communist threats immediately after the 1917 October revolution in Russia. The US Congress had passed the Immigration Act of 1918 that authorised the detention and deportation of alien anarchists under an extremely broad definition of anarchism. Its paranoia reached a peak during the McCarthy era and got scaled down with the opening with China in the 70s and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

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