The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

10 MARCH 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Framing the Immigration Issue I read the letter “The Biden Administration and Immigration,” by Ambassador (ret.) Michael A. McCarthy and Senior FSO (ret.) Nicholas M. Hill, in the November 2023 FSJ. I appreciate their dedication to discussing this critical issue and recognize the value their experience brings. While I share concerns about the impact of current immigration policies on locally employed (LE) staff, I find the language overly harsh and divisive. Labeling immigrants uninvited “scofflaws” dehumanizes individuals driven from their homes by desperation and fierce hope for a better life. And statements like “we effectively have no border” contribute to a narrative fueled by fear and anxiety rather than fostering a productive dialogue. Further, the authors’ assertion that we are betraying our LE colleagues is unwarranted. Hill and McCarthy present a false dichotomy between supporting displaced individuals and protecting the interests of LE staff. This oversimplification ignores the complexities of the issue. Throughout history, immigrants have played a crucial role in shaping America. Many of our ancestors, for instance, were uninvited immigrants who risked everything for the American dream. America’s continued success hinges on embracing the resilience of those who migrate in pursuit of opportunity. While acknowledging the challenges in the current system, we must recognize the significant contributions of immigrants. Many successful entrepreneurs, past and present, hail from immigrant backgrounds, highlighting the enduring impact of migration on our nation’s fabric. In fact, according to the American Immigration Council report “New American Fortune 500 in 2022,” immigrants or their children founded 43.8 percent of the Fortune 500 list. These companies employ more than 14.8 million people and generate more than $7 trillion in revenue annually, greater than the GDP of every country except the United States and China. Also, immigration offsets our low fertility rate, giving us an economic edge over other developed countries facing population decline. As argued by Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, Nobel laureates in economics, in their book Good Economics for Hard Times, “the politics of the response to immigration is not just one of misunderstood economics, but also one of identity politics.” Framing the debate with divisive rhetoric obscures the value of diverse migration to our nation. America’s true strength lies in upholding the principles of freedom and opportunity—principles that motivate individuals from across the globe to seek a brighter future not just for themselves but for us all. Therefore, I urge the authors to revisit their language and approach and refrain from using fear-based rhetoric. In a positive development, President Biden signed the GRATEFUL Act into law in December 2023. This legislation grants up to 3,500 additional visas to U.S. government employees abroad in 2024 and 3,000 annually thereafter. The GRATEFUL Act aims to alleviate the backlog in the Special Immigrant Visa process, reflecting a commitment to those who have dedicated their careers to supporting U.S. diplomatic efforts. Jesse Gutierrez USAID / Somalia Nairobi, Kenya Inviting Indochina Service Alums There will be a MACV/CORDS (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam / Civil Operations and Rural Development Support) reunion April 24-27, 2024, at Fort Moore (formerly Fort Benning), in Columbus, Ga., hosted by Counterparts. All military and civilian personnel who served in advisory positions in Indochina and their counterparts are invited. The program will include sessions with activeduty personnel in the Security Force Assistance Brigade and faculty of the Military Advisors Training Course. Counterparts is a veterans association comprising former Allied military and civilian advisers and their counterparts who served in various theaters of operation during the Second Indochina War. CSPAN recorded presentations at the 2019 reunion, including of FSO Robert “Bob” Traister ( For more information on the 2024 reunion, contact the organizer, Len Ganz, at or (781) 444-7808, or me at (301) 717-4127. Gordon Bare U.S. Army and State Dept., retired Bethesda, Maryland n Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: Correction In the November 2023 FSJ Focus, “In Their Own Write,” the author note for FSO Michelle L. Stefanick (Tell the Truth) states that she retired in 2013. In fact, she resigned at that time.