Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 26  |  Friday, February 14, 2003  |  Number 3
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page

Marburger, Boehlert Lament Visa Backlog
Muge Karagoz Unel, of Northwestern University, offered OSTP Director John Marburger a personal poster session on Beam Halo Monitoring at CDF, during Marburger's visit to Fermilab on August 1, 2002.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— OSTP Director John Marburger told the URA Council of Presidents that “the science of the nation is suffering” because of the backlog on visa applications for visiting scientists from other nations.

Marburger, chief science advisor to President Bush, said he has met with Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condaleeza Rice, and “they agree this is a problem, an issue that needs to be addressed.” Marburger also said “Congress is very interested” in the situation, a motion firmly seconded by Congressman Sherwood Boehlert of New York’s 23rd District, chair of the House Science Committee.

“You better believe we’re paying close attention to the visa problems,” Boehlert said, answering a question from the floor. “We’re very mindful of the situation…You should expect and demand that we pay attention… Quite frankly we need to do a lot of things to speed up the process.”

Fermilab director Michael Witherell, citing a memo outlining new DOE-mandated identification requirements for all visiting scientists at the lab, put the issue in a context of “trying to preserve the academic research environment.”

“It’s much broader than just the labs, it applies to all universities,” Witherell said. “If [researchers] do get into the country, how do we have them operate freely on the site with tools they may themselves have built?” Boehlert placed the visa problem on a level with what he regards as two other primary challenges for U.S. science.

Said Boehlert: “If we don’t think in the long term, if we don’t address K-12 science education, if we don’t address the visa problems—boy, are we going to suffer as a nation.”

—Mike Perricone

last modified 2/14/2003   email Fermilab