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Suggestion: Contacting our Senators and Representatives About Visa Issues

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA' started by LunaTEKKE, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. LunaTEKKE

    LunaTEKKE Madness Reigns

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    Our elected officials obviously don’t care if some musician from outside of the country can make a living. Nor do they care about the sense of community experienced by those to have a passion for our kind of music. However, they MIGHT care that a vibrant and diverse arts scene helps makes particular communities desirable places to live. And they DEFINITELY care about $$$$$. Think about the revenue that ProgPower generates in terms of ticket sales, hotel stays, air travel, restaurant/grocery (and alcohol) purchases, merch, local transportation, and tourist stuff. For a band to do a national tour, the impact is obviously more diluted, but there is still money being pumped into the U.S. economy. Local venues and promoters benefit from ticket sales, who in turn spend $$ on advertising, printing, PR, web hosting, and hiring people to do everything from running the box office to providing security to tending bar to cleaning up afterwards.

    I work for a nonprofit in the healthcare sector, and when there is an issue that needs attention, an approach that often gets attention is to create a fill-in-the-blanks form letter so that interested parties can deliver a consistent message to their elected officials. If an elected official is getting a lot of mail or phone calls on a particular issue, staffers will pass that on.

    Maybe we could put together something similar to address Visa issues? All people would have to do is find the contact info for their elected officials (which you can do online) and either send TWO letters or make TWO phone calls.

    National security is an obvious priority, but it seems that these delays have been due more to inefficiency and outdated systems rather than actual security concerns. We need a process that keeps the bad guys out, but is CONSISTENT, PREDICTABLE, and RELIABLE for those who just want to come here and share their great music.
     
  2. Yippee38

    Yippee38 Living the dream!

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    The rumor I heard was that part of the problem was that there was some kind of problem with their computer systems (like it got hacked or something). All of these problems are related to that, and once they get it "fixed" it won't be bad like this anymore. But that's just a rumor. If it isn't that, what you say makes great sense, and it might help. The timing would have to be right though to have the letters hit when they are most needed.
     
  3. Diamond45

    Diamond45 Terminate Bad Music

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    I heard the same rumor as well. Not sure if that's true or not, but if that was the case, I hope this was a one time deal.

    I always thought it was not necessarily due to national security, but they don't want to have jobs that would go to Americans to go to people from outside the US. If that's the case, that's ridiculous because we all know that there are a LOT of performers from our musical world that can do a MUCH better job than many American performers. :D

    I'm wondering that in addition to what LunaTEKKE suggests above that we can create a petition on Change.org that the USCIS process needs to be overhauled? Just a thought.
     
  4. Diamond45

    Diamond45 Terminate Bad Music

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    Thanks for the clarification on the issue. I just can't believe that the USCIS processes 50,000 visa applications EVERY DAY! No wonder when they had the hardware failures there was a huge backlog!
     
  5. Felixrox

    Felixrox Member

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    Thank you for this thread, I think it's a good idea because these issues simply CANNOT happen again. Despite all the problems, still a memorable weekend but our elected officials should understand the problems this causes.
     
  6. NorseBlood

    NorseBlood franks n steins

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    Understanding is one issue, caring enough to do anything about it is another. Of course, actually fixing the problem would require someone actually do something, which is anathema to a government bureaucrat.

    In hindsight, it probably would have been better for the bands to simply fly to Mexico and then hire a coyote to get them to Atlanta.
     
  7. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Member

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    Funny, because Saturday night I was listening in on a conversation with Daniel of Voyager. Apparently his day job is as an immigration lawyer. (who knew?) He was saying that if you came without instruments, you might be able to get away with coming in on a tourist visa.
     
  8. miel

    miel Mrs. Harvester
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    I would love to assist with this once I'm back from the dead. Perhaps we can create a blanket letter with Marc's input.

    ~Jen
     
  9. Mardoch

    Mardoch Defender of the Universe

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    I would print/mail and email it. And I'd pester all the people I know to do the same.
     
  10. Diamond45

    Diamond45 Terminate Bad Music

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    I'm all for it. If you folks create it, I will send it to every federal politician that serves my jurisdiction!
     
  11. templeofmax

    templeofmax Member

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    While Progpower does generate some income to Atlanta, I do not think the amount of money it would take to overcome these issues is less than this impact you are talking about, even on a grand scale (other festivals, etc). Legislators and governors cannot do nothing about this so you can write all you want, but Homeland Security is not going to hire more personnel and upgrade their systems just so bands could come to play in the US. I think there are far too many other USCIS related issues such as work visas for full time employees and Green card hopefuls that this issue is not even close in magnitude. It is the sad reality. The Festival will go on with or without the bands that cannot travel, unless Glenn gives up dealing with this, so I do not think a letter saying 'Dont delay visas for international musicians so more people can bring income to Atlanta for 2-4 days' will make any impact whatsoever. Moreover, any bleep in the system about any band member wanting to come to the US to work and having had any arrest in the past, will have an impact on tem being able to come here, work or not. I have been in the visa process for many years. so it is not as clear cut as you think. The delays is one thing, but sometimes visa issues stem from the background of the applicants, so it is not as easy as saying, dont delay the visas for all members of all bands.
     
  12. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Member

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    Well, nothing will change if you take no action. At least if you try, there is a chance things can get better.

    I certainly think we do need Marc's input, because I personally have no idea what would make things easier for bands to perform in the US.
     
  13. PromisedLand

    PromisedLand Master of Corgis

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    Perhaps a petitions.whitehouse.gov petition? Our collective reach has got to be at least enough to meet the 100k signature threshold. It would at least bring more visibility to the issue of the inefficiencies inherent in the U.S. visa system.
     
  14. AngraRULES

    AngraRULES Member

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    I think if you guys want to do that, you should coordinate an effort with all of the major players in the industry here in North America...

    Press, Management, Booking Agencies, Record Labels, Bands, Promoters, etc. all should be involved to give some credibility to it.

    Remember that this issue affects way too many bands beyond the ProgPower USA spectrum. And keep in mind involving our Senators *does* help. You may not have seen Falconer otherwise... ;)
     
  15. LunaTEKKE

    LunaTEKKE Madness Reigns

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    I'm not saying the message should be "don't delay". If someone has an arrest record, yes, that absolutely warrants further scrutiny. I'm saying that the process and the timeframes should be consistent and predictable. If the government can't add more staff, make the timeframes longer. Or come up with some kind of "fast track" process for bands that have a history of touring in the US so that the limited resources can be used on those who haven't travelled to the US before.
     
  16. Diamond45

    Diamond45 Terminate Bad Music

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    Also, how long does this sort of work visa last? Is there a way to get a long term visa so a band that will be coming to the US again won't need to get one each time they come to the US?

    I agree that there should be a process that once you have obtained a work visa, getting a new visa should be a lot easier. Not quite a "rubber stamp" but a lot less time than a brand new one.
     
  17. nomisofsiman

    nomisofsiman Member

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    Not 100 percent, but I've heard in the past that most last about a year.
     
  18. nomisofsiman

    nomisofsiman Member

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    I don't know. It sucks that these bands got canceled, but it truly was just bad luck. Fact is the visa process takes some time and usually it works out, but with the glitches/technical issues this year, it's understandable why more bands got cancelled and fucked over than usual. I would doubt this sort of thing happens to this extent again. I would say it's best to just move on. I'd hate for the government to get more pissed by us sending these letters. Just my opinion.
     
  19. freakchylde

    freakchylde PPUSA Driver o' Doom!!!!!

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    Outside of the technical glitch that hit earlier in the year, a lot has to do with the individual(s) reviewing the paperwork. Some of them take their job seriously and try to do as much as they can. Others are the McD and TSA rejects who managed to make the minimum on the entrance exam and think they got a sweet power job.

    But the fact is, as said, this goes beyond this festival. It also goes beyond temporary work visas as the immigration process itself has similar issues. The entire set-up needs a full-on overhaul, but that's going to require obliteration and starting from scratch - and that's not going to happen. The best we can do is press for worthwhile changes that will allow USCIS to be brought into the modern century and for things to not be 100% left up to one person with no oversight and a kindergarten desire for revenge after getting a bad review and having their work called into question. There's a reason why lawsuits are happening.

    I will be more than happy to help out with any letter writing or congress critter pestering.
     

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