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I can say that I am in trouble because of everyone else in the queue of 500,000 highly skilled H1 and L1 people waiting for GC. Everyone else other than me and my family is causing trouble for me.
If all others in the queue were to vanish or die somehow,my PD would become current and I can file for 485.
Isnt that the attitude of IEEE-USA. We are in trouble because of competition from Indian and Chinese professionals.
They have a problem with Indian and Chinese engineers whether they come here, or dont come here. They have problem with H1B, they have a problem if they dont come here and merely work on jobs in India and China that are outsourced from here to there.
Just like IEEE-USA has problem with existence of competition, you have problem with the existence of consultants because that sub-community within this community is also asking for Greencards. And your solution is to eliminate competition.
Consultants can say the same thing...that we are in trouble because of these perm-fulltime jobs holders who stick to one job for 10 years and we have a problem with that.
How can you justify, with reasonable objective arguments that perm-fulltime jobs holders should be ahead of the queue from consultants and they are more deserving candidates for Greencard than consultants? I am not a consultant myself but I'd like to hear your reasoning behind this. Dont tell me crap that consultants pad their resumes. Everyone does it. Whether its consultants or perm-fulltime jobs holders, and whether its H1B or citizens, EVERYONE who is desperate for a job would pad his/her resume. You would do it too if it meant getting yourself away from filing bankruptcy.
I have worked in both capacities, as consultant and as FT. I did FT for 5 years and got fired and moved to consulting and am doing good here. So I am kinda balanced on this issue.
It is no one's fault. We all followed the system properly and did not break any law. So it does not make sense to blame felllow immigrants.
After you lay the foundation for your legislative efforts and assess the political landscape, your goal is to convince legislators to accept your position. Some activities, such as proposing legislation or amendments, meeting with legislators and their staff, and testifying at hearings, occur inside the halls of the legislature; other actions, such as letter writing, public demonstrations, and working with the media, are initiated outside the legislature to build public pressure and urge legislators to come over to your side. Always coordinate your actions inside and outside of the legislature to make sure you are consistent and achieve maximum effect.
Write letters, send faxes and e-mails, and phone legislators. Letters are definitely worth the time. Legislators know that each letter they receive represents several additional constituents who feel the same way but have not taken the time to write. That�s why, in addition to writing your own letter, you should get your partners and allies to write letters as well.
Be clear and concise. Keep your letter to one page, at most two, and address only one issue per letter, if possible. Clearly identify the bill you are writing about and the position you are urging (vote yes or no). Make two or three of your strongest arguments for or against the proposed legislation. Remember: Legislators receive many letters on many different issues; your letter should be easy to read and understand if you want any chance of grabbing their attention.
Identify yourself and your constituency. Say something about who you are and whom you represent; you want the legislator to understand that you are someone she or he should listen to. Give an example of a personal story�preferably from the legislator�s district�that shows how the bill affects real people and that the problem is not just an isolated incident. Legislators hear about what�s good and bad policy all the time; real-life experiences grab their attention.
Avoid using form letters whenever possible. Avoid them altogether if you cannot deliver extraordinary volume. Personal individually signed letters are far more effective. When you are soliciting letters from partners and allies, provide a sample with a request that they use it as a guide to writing a letter in their own words.
While letters tend to be most effective, you can also fax, phone, and e-mail your legislators. Usually, you use e-mails, faxes and phone calls right before a bill is coming up for a vote to remind legislators of the importance of their vote to you. If you are planning to organize a fax, phone, or e-mail chain, in which your partners and allies ask their constituents and supporters to take action, be sure to provide the contact information for the appropriate representative because the most effective contacts are those that come from legislators� own constituents. For more on e-mail advocacy see the Internet Advocacy section.
Meet with legislators. Face-to-face contact with legislators is key to humanizing the problem, demonstrating a commitment to solving it, and developing relationships for the long haul.
Organize a small, diverse group of participants, perhaps three to five people. Make sure at least some of them reside in the legislator�s district.
Select your best spokespersons and message. Choose someone who will appeal to the legislators you are trying to persuade.
Decide ahead of time how you will conduct the meeting. Who will introduce the participants? Lead the meeting? Close the meeting? What materials will you take to leave with the legislator at the end of the meeting?
Get to know legislators� staff. Legislators often rely heavily on the advice of key staff members. It is important to establish a good relationship with these staff members, make sure they have adequate information about your legislation, and try to learn from them any concerns you may need to address to keep your legislation moving forward. The staff will be your main point of contact if a legislator is unavailable or inaccessible.
For more tips on meeting with legislators, such as scheduling, preparing for, conducting, and following up after the meeting, see Tips on Meeting with Your Elected Officials (http://archive.aclu.org/action/lobby.html), and �Six Practical Tips on How to Lobby Your Legislator or Elected Official (http://www.democracyctr.org/resources/lobbying.html)� in Lobbying�the Basics.
Testify at hearings. This is not one of those times when you can wing it! Always be prepared before you give testimony on pending legislation.
Get a rough vote count of how legislators are likely to vote before you attend the hearing and try to find out about outstanding issues and concerns. Having this information will help you choose the best witnesses, know what points you need to emphasize in your testimony, and consider amendments you may need to offer or agree to.
Choose witnesses who will be credible and effective. Put together a combination of people directly affected by the legislation, experts, and individuals and organizations that represent legislators� constituents.
Write out your testimony in advance so that it is clear, concise, and persuasive. Include personal stories whenever possible to show how the issue affects real people. Prepare a summary of your testimony for distribution at the hearing to legislators, the media, and other attendees. Anticipate questions legislators might ask and plan how to respond.
Pack the legislative chambers with supporters and call the media. Wear buttons, T-shirts, or other identifying items to show legislators and the media the strength and presence of your support in the hearing room.
Have legislators who support your cause ask your opponents tough questions and make supportive statements on your behalf. You could offer to draft a list of questions or key points that you would like them to cover. Discuss in advance amendments that may be offered and the bottom line for any compromises.
Staging public protests or other public events. Consider organizing an event that energizes and mobilizes large numbers of supporters and captures legislators��and media�attention.
Public protests can sometimes turn up the heat on lawmakers to vote your way or at least think twice about siding with the opposition.
Holding a Lobby Day is an opportunity to mobilize large numbers of people to meet with multiple legislators in one day to show your legislative power and gain media attention. The day usually begins with training in lobbying skills and a teach-in on your issues, followed perhaps by a rally and news interviews, a couple of hours of meetings with legislators, and an end-of-day debriefing session for supporters.
Ignite Public Scrutiny. Elected officials care about their public image. They want to be portrayed favorably in the news. Develop a media strategy around your legislation that includes news conferences, letters to the editor, writing opinion editorials, or other media strategies that will put your issue in the public eye, maintain public scrutiny throughout the legislative process, provide a vehicle for keeping pressure on elected officials, turn up the heat on those who are against you, and applaud those who stick with you. For more tips on developing a media strategy see the Media Advocacy section.
Be persistent. Lobbying campaigns rarely come to a definitive end.
If your proposed legislation is defeated, there is frequently another opportunity to reintroduce it. Don�t be discouraged. Often it takes several tries to pass a measure, especially one that seeks to bring about an important change.
If you win, do not get complacent. Monitor implementation and make sure your legislation is fully funded. Look out for opposition attempts to undo or diminish your victory by trying to repeal your legislation, filing litigation to overturn it, or seeking regulations to significantly weaken its implementation.
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what he did is not surprising.
Mohd. Azharudding also did it before.
He was selected captain, after some of the worst historical defeats as a captain - he was still trusted to retain captainship by BCCI.
However after years of captianship, when he was caught red-handed in match fixing scandal, he did not even wasted a moment to give a statement that he is being harrased in hindu india because he is a minority.:mad::mad:
similary saif ali khan after having a hindu mother, hindu ex-wife, hindu girlfriend and a stardom and large number of hindu fans, did not wasted a moment but blamed hindus that being a muslim he is not able to buy a flat in mumbai.
what do you expect from such mentality?
Anyways the fact of the matter is that we are in a limbo, all indications point to Obama becoming the next president of US. if CIR 2008 was any indication , we as EB applicants are royally screwed if Sen Durbin dictates his immigration policy. What is the use of talking about wars and innocent people when chances are that the advocate of his immigration policy is opposed to my main issue of EB reform. high low Taxes, 401k's, houses, Medicare etc will matter if you get to stay here in the first place. A average 6-9 years of paying taxes, supporting medicare and Social Security and we now need to think about moving to different countries where skilled immigrants are welcome....think about it. Just look at the CIR 2008 discussion to understand what i am talking about. Read the senators transcripts.
My point is if McCain is elected, there is no chance for GC debates. The economy will become so bad that there won't be any support from any law makers. Nobody will touch the immigration bill.
from your experience...
I would like to file for my GC filed thru my ex-employer in 2003, i140 also is approved and hoping the dates might be current in October.
I know it is safest route to join the ex-employer before filing 485,but I am not sure if he has a project around that time for me. The HR is always ready to give the required employment letter to hire me as a full time employee once I get my permanent residence card.
Now, my question is it safe to take this route, cos once we get the EAD and advance parole we will start using them with the spouse starting to work(so no more H4 status etc)..or any hitches as to during the interview will we have a hard time as to why I was not employed during 485 stage etc..
All the cases I see is people r filing 485 working with the current employer and plan to change jobs after 6 months..but my case is different..
Have you seen/known anyone getting GC without working for the sponsoring employer during time time of filing 485..?
Did you hear that home sales are up! All these media and those streaky economists and so called "housing experts" claiming in the news channels for past couple of weeks?.. that is media messing around with people's head.. I was looking at the public records for home sales and found that a huge portion of current homes sales are nothing but LOW END old homes between (75K to 150K).. Only a neglegable percentage are the ones between (200K and above). This is exactly what media doesn't speak about.. they conveniently skip this part when they report on home sales lately...
Its the gotcha guys.. now they started to increase price a bit.. banks are pushing up interest rates to create a scenario where people are made to believe soon, its going to be out of reach again.. so grab one now.. and get that $8000 credit for yourself.. What they are trying to do is, create an artificial demand.. We all know that it isn't going anywhere.. by Q409.. we will see the prices again going south.. only thing they can do is delay the natural correction during this summer.. Its going to happen any way.. and by end of fall into winter, it is highly expected to reach the floor and stabilize during 2010 spring and summer ( average price in the range of 4 times disposible annual income), if not further decline as we saw in certain areas of california and florida..
When you are in the market for a home, do not go by these general claims by media folks.. brokers and realtors who fake the confidence.. you will have to segment and compare the specs to sales price with in your choice of segment.. (such as..homes below 200K, between 200K to 300K, 300K to 400K and so on.) Public records are available online for almost all the counties in US, you can pull that up to see whats going on in your area before you jump into conclusion. This will give us a better feel of the market and even better, bargain opportunity.
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Becausing of uploading issue: follow this link.
from there click on a-1 certification; decisions issued in 2004; click on second decision from the top. If someone can download the pdf and attach then we can discuss.
The attachment upload fails for me as well but goddamn UN, you are unbelievable.
1. Your knowledge of the specifics and technicalities and access to information is very impressive
2. And you go out of your way to share it with others
That being said, I skimmed through the document real quick and the part that caught my eye was the AAOs point on the applicant never having resided/lived in the same state as the employer, which you had also mentioned in one of your earlier posts.
Wouldn't that be quite common in most consulting scenarios? What if the beneficiary/applicant has never lived in the same state as the petitioning employer but has lived in and worked for the employer (at client locations, offsite assignments) in nearby bordering states, from before the labor was filed and until long after the 485 was filed. Do you see the USCIS ever having issues with that?
I completely agree that buying a house is a long term move. But I disagree with some of the points:
1. Does rent always go up? No, my rent did not go up at all during the real estate boom as the number of ppl renting was low. Recently my rent has gone up only $75 pm. (love rent control!!!) So in 5 years, my monthly rent has gone up a total of $125 per month
Real Estate market is always local. Unlike the market for -let's say- rice, which can be transported from one place where it's abundant to where it's scarce easily. Real Estate remains where it is. It's also subjected to a lot of local laws, municipal regulations etc. So, any discussion we have here will NOT apply to every single location. You have to research your own local regulations/market etc.
If you have rent control, it significantly changes the picture. It usually doesn't make sense to buy if you have rent control.
2. I hear about tax rebate for homeowners. But what about property tax?
Yep, you pay it when you own a house. And yes, you pay it when you rent (it's rolled into your rent). The difference is that when you own, it's tax-deductible; if you pay it as part of your rent, it's not.
3. What about mortgage insurance payments?
You don't pay PMI, if you put down 20%. Not a bad idea to save that much. It forces one to learn financial planning and forward thinking.
It is a misconception that 5-10 years is the cycle for real estate.
Here's how in a sane real estate market the cycle should work:
No population influx in your area or there is no exodus from your area:
Your real estate ownership should be 25 years because that's when the next generation is ready to buy houses.
However, in places like SF Bay Area/new York/Boston where there is continuous influx of young working ppl this cycle can be reduced to 15-20 years.
Over the last few years, nobody thought of longevity required to make money in RE. Now that it is tanking ppl are talking about 5-10 years. Unless you are buying in a booming place, your ownership has to be 15+ years to turn a real profit.
Profit/Loss is not what the primary residence is for.
This is purely the financial aspect of ownership. If you have a family I think its really nice to have a house but you don't have to really take on the liability. You can rent the same house for much less. But if you are clear in your mind that no matter what I am going to live in XYZ town/city for the next 20 years, go for it.
You can rent for less, now, but how about later? You're assuming rents don't go up, but they do. One of my neighbors pays $250 per month in loan payment for a house he bought 20 years ago (property tax and insurance adds $550 more). It was a big payment then. Now it's almost live living for free. If he rented this he'd by paying $2500 at least. Again, if you don't plan to settle down, don't buy. But owning your primary residence is the first step towards prosperity.
As a sidenote for Indians. We all have either aging or soon to start aging parents. The way I see it, caring for aging parents is a social debt that we must pay back. This will need me to go back to India. Therefore, if you feel you need to care for your parents, don't commit to a house.
Yes, if you're planning to go back... don't buy.
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"The liberals are saying that this guest worker program ... is really just a way to depress wages and create a permanent underclass of exploited labor. To which the president said, 'And the problem is?'" --Bill Maher
"President said in his speech that immigrants have to learn English. The immigrants said, 'Hey, you first.'" --Jay Leno
"President is down in Mexico right now. Again, I don't think President gets it. As soon as he stepped off Air Force Once, he looked around and said, 'Wow, you got a big problem with Mexican immigrants down here, too.'" --Jay Leno
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When my boss takes a long time, he is thorough
When I don't do it, I am lazy,
When my boss does not do it, he is busy,
When I do something without being told, I am trying to be smart,
When my boss does the same, he takes the initiative,
When I please my boss, I am apple polishing,
When my boss pleases his boss, he is cooperating,
When I make a mistake, I' am an idiot.
When my boss makes a mistake, he's only human.
When I am out of the office, I am wondering around.
When my boss is out of the office, he's on business.
When I am on a day off sick, I am always sick.
When my boss is a day off sick, he must be very ill.
When I apply for leave, I must be going for an interview
When my boss applies for leave, it's because he's overworked
When I do good, my boss never remembers,
When I do wrong, he never forgets
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But it does not impact much if Skil bill comes. Most of the persons PD will become current and anyone who gets H1b will get GC within 1 or 2 years. So no need for H1b extension. If Skil bill comes with Durbin proposal then most of the negative issues will be resolved by increasing more gcs. Infact substitution elimination also not needed if Skil bill comes as PD will become current always.
I am talking about people whose permanent labors are approved but they can not get green card for whateever reason. My labor application for future job was applied 3 yeags ago in the past As per my employer job was available 3 years ago and government took its own time to adjudicate the application. Does my last statement sound illogical? Your analysis is same , I mean illogical .
Who knows what bills congress is going pass and not . I would rather live with status quo rather than things getting worse for me . They dont even let me file for 485 because of per country limits etc...
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And yet, some people in my location are thinking about nothing but resale. They are not able to see a home as anything other than an investment and I am referring to such people in my earlier post.
ofcourse it is not going down everywhere. but it is going down in majority of the places that were polled. you are right home is not (and won't be an investment for a long time). In the end if you are desperate for more space (or if you get a super offer and have permanent status) etc then buy but if you are a person who doesnot want to pay more for an item than it is worth ...then wait. (especially if you are on EAD or H1).
also some feel (And say to others) that they have to rush to buy since many say it is a best time to buy and prices will go high v.soon ..the answer to this is a big No. (prices won't go up any time soon ..instead it will fall some more. and in most locations there will always be plenty of houses for sale).
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We are wondering why IV is not getting enough members enrolling. Setting up this non-profit would be a step in brining activisism in EB immigrants and from then on, they will be readily participating in fighting for their rights. Then we would have a grassroot support organization. Any thoughts/comments, please let me know.
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is that not, like, the most laughable, stupid thing to do?
what the fu$k!! you dont have a GC, you dont have any job security, you dont have any unemployment/social security, you blow your savings on a house, stocks and houses will take about 4 solid years to get back to where they were (if ever), this country's economy is tanking, there is no love for legal immigrants, we are still only in the middle of this recession (depression?).................aah, what the hell.........
go buy your american dream you stupid desis...........you get what you deserve.
Truth: Harshly put.
In the words of the famous Indian poet Mirza Ghalib:->
"Mar chuk kahin ki tu Gham-e-Hizran se chhoot Jaye,
Kahte to hain bhale ki wo lekin buri tarah"
"Kill yourself and you will get rid of your miseries! Well, what is said is for my good but the way it is said is very bad".
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From some of the postings I have seen from IV Core; I believe they know what they are doing. They seem to be getting right advice of when to go on offensive and when to be defensive.
It is difficult for candidates/people who only have five to six years of history in this country to know how the system works here; ie., what arguments work and what arguments don't and what other side will do in ruining your credibility if they are pushed.
Everyone wants their greencard and they try to find reasons which they think others will appreciate (whether they have much merit or not).
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Tanda Srinivas was lounging in the yard of his two-room house in the southern Indian village of Mondrai shortly after noon on Oct. 28 when his wife, Shobha, burst out of the door covered in flames and screaming for help.
The 30-year-old mother of two boys had poured 2 liters of kerosene on herself and lit a match. The couple had argued bitterly the day before over how they would repay multiple loans, including those from microlenders who had lent small sums to dozens of villagers, says Venkateshwarlu Masram, a doctor who called for the ambulance.
Shobha, head of several groups of women borrowers, was being pressured to pay interest on her 12,000 rupee ($265) loan. Lenders also were demanding that she cover for the other women, even though the state had restricted microfinance activities two weeks earlier, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its February issue.
When Srinivas, 35, tried to snuff out the flames with a blanket, his polyester clothes caught fire. Within three days, both parents were dead, leaving their sons orphans.
Now, on this November morning, the boys� ailing 70-year-old grandfather and blind grandmother say they are caring for Aravind, 10, and Upender, 13, in the farming village where many men earn a living gathering palm extract to make alcoholic beverages.
None of the boys� relatives can support them full time, says their 60-year-old grandmother, Saiamma, breaking into tears.
India�s Microlending Hub
The horrific scene in Mondrai, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the city of Warangal, has played out in dozens of ways across Andhra Pradesh, India�s fifth-largest state by area and the site of about a third of the country�s $5.3 billion in microfinance loans as of Sept. 30.
More than 70 people committed suicide in the state from March 1 to Nov. 19 to escape payments or end the agonies their debt had triggered, according to the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty, a government agency that compiled the data on the microfinance-related deaths from police and press reports.
Andhra Pradesh, where three-quarters of the 76 million people live in rural areas, suffered a total of 14,364 suicide cases in the first nine months of 2010, according to state police.
A growing number of microfinance-related deaths spurred the state to clamp down on collection practices in mid-October, says Reddy Subrahmanyam, principal secretary for rural development.
�Every life is important,� he says.
On Nov. 8, police arrested two managers of lender Share Microfin Ltd. on allegations of abetting another suicide, this one of a 22-year-old mother. Share Microfin didn�t respond to requests for comment on this story.
As India struggles to provide decent education, health care and jobs to millions still locked in poverty, microlending -- the loaning of small sums to the world�s neediest people to help them earn a living -- has taken a perverse turn.
Microcredit has become �Walmartized� by unrestrained selling of cheap products to the poor, says Malcolm Harper, chairman of ratings company Micro-Credit Ratings International Ltd. in Gurgaon, India.
�Selling debt is like selling drugs,� says Harper, 75, the author of more than 20 books on microfinance and other topics. �Selling debt to illiterate women in Andhra Pradesh, you�ve got to be a lot more responsible.�
K. Venkat Narayana, an economics professor at Kakatiya University in Warangal, has studied how microfinance lenders persuaded groups of women to borrow.
�Microfinance was supposed to empower women,� he says. �Microfinance guys reversed the social and economic progress, and these women ended up becoming slaves.�
India�s booming microlending industry is part of a global phenomenon that began as a charitable movement but now attracts private capital seeking growth and high returns.
Banco Compartamos SA, a former nonprofit that�s now the largest lender to Mexico�s working poor, raised about $467 million in its 2007 initial public offering. The August IPO of SKS Microfinance Ltd., India�s biggest microlender, drew further attention to the industry.
SKS began operating in 1998 as a nongovernmental organization led by Vikram Akula, 42, an Indian-American with a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.
The company raised 16.3 billion rupees by selling 16.8 million shares at 985 rupees each. SKS shares peaked at 1,404.85 rupees on Sept. 15. As of Dec. 28, they�d fallen to 652.85 rupees.
Andhra Pradesh Crisis
On Oct. 15, the government of Andhra Pradesh imposed restrictions that bar microlenders� collection agents from visiting borrowers and required companies to get local authorities� approval for new loans. The rules have crippled lending and repayments. Loan collection levels in the state have dropped to less than 20 percent from 98 percent previously, according to an industry group.
The upheaval in Andhra Pradesh is a long way from the vision of Muhammad Yunus.
The former economics professor won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his pioneering work in Bangladesh providing small sums to entrepreneurs too poor to get bank loans.
Yunus, 70, discovered more than three decades ago that when you lend money to women in poverty, they can begin to earn a living, and most of them will pay you back.
Yunus started the Grameen Bank Project in 1976 to extend banking services to the poor. Since then, it has lent $9.87 billion and recovered $8.76 billion; 97 percent of its 8.33 million borrowers are female.
Yunus says he�s not against making a profit. But he denounces firms that seek windfalls and pervert the original intent of microfinance: helping the poor.
The rule of thumb for a loan should be the cost of funds plus 10 percent, he says.
�Commercialization is the wrong direction,� Yunus says, speaking in a telephone interview from Bangladesh�s capital of Dhaka. �An initial public offering is the triggering point for making a lot of money personally as well as for the company and shareholders.�
David Gibbons, chairman of Cashpor Micro Credit, a nonprofit microlender to the poorest women in India�s Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states, says public, for-profit lenders face a conflict.
�They have to decide between the interests of their customers and interests of their investors,� he says.
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On a quiet block in western Beijing where otherwise only a few retirees can be seen walking their dogs or trimming their bushes, one building is under constant and conspicuous surveillance. A plainclothes policeman stands guard before an entranceway, while another keeps watch sitting inside a small cabin.
The unlikely object of the Chinese state's attention in this instance is Liu Xia, a painter, poet, and photographer -- and the wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. Guilty by association, she has been under house arrest, with almost no contact with the outside world, since November 2010, when her husband's award was announced. No one has heard from Liu since February, and her friends are increasingly worried about her health. Still, there is no sign that the authorities are planning to relent.
Liu's arrest underscores a peculiar aspect to the recent Chinese crackdown on political dissidents that has seen the detention of dozens of prominent activists, intellectuals, and artists. Authorities are increasingly targeting not just critics of the ruling party, but their family members, including spouses, parents, and even young children. While the dissidents gain the headlines, their relatives are punished out of the spotlight. Though the wife of jailed artist Ai Weiwei was recently allowed a visit her husband, she could be next in line to lose her freedom.
It's a punitive strategy that seeks to exploit Chinese traditions of filial piety. For China's dissidents, family is often both a source of strength and weakness: Chinese families tend to be close and highly involved in each other lives, and they take seriously the promise to stick together through thick and thin. The government, aware of these close ties, is using them to put more pressure on activists.
It also bears echoes of the Cultural Revolution-era, when many Chinese families were torn apart as spouses and children were forced to denounce loved ones labeled by the authorities as capitalist traitors and were sometimes forced to take part in their public humiliation. Today's China is again making a policy of manipulating familial love and devotion to suppress any political challenges.
"One of the more troubling trends we see in recent years has been for the government to more directly involve family members," observes Joshua Rosenzweig, a senior researcher at the Dui Hua Foundation, a U.S.-based organization dedicated to improving human rights in China. "We see surveillance, constant harassment, even extended house arrests. These all happened before, but now they have become routine" -- as in the case of Liu Xia. Rosenzweig adds, "Legal procedure has become irrelevant" in the Communist Party's quest to maintain stability. Under Chinese law, there is no procedure that allows for a person to be held indefinitely under house arrest without charges or a police investigation. "To put it simply, families are being held hostage," says Rosenzweig.
Zeng Jinyan would concur. She has been under constant surveillance and subject to frequent house arrests ever since 2001, when she met her husband, AIDS activist Hu Jia, who is now serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for "subversion of state power." Zeng was a student when they met, and she says she never imagined her life turning out the way it did. "I thought I'll graduate, find a job, and marry. I planned on a simple life and was hoping I could have enough time and money to travel the world," she tells me in a telephone interview. But she has since become an acclaimed activist in her own right, detailing her everyday life under the party's watchful eye on her blog and Twitter account. In 2007, Time magazine included her on its list of the world's 100 most influential people. Clearly, the regime's strategy backfired in this case.
Most families, however, don't have nearly that kind of wherewithal. Take, for example, the family of Chen Guangcheng, a blind, self-taught lawyer from Shandong province who was imprisoned for four years for his work with disenfranchised villagers and woman forced to have abortions. After his release, he was forced to live in isolation in a Shandong village, together with his wife, Yuan Weijing, and their 6-year-old daughter. Yuan is denied almost all contact to the outside world, including to her son, who she sent away to be raised by relatives so that he can attend school. In February, the couple managed to smuggle a video out of the country in which they described their plight. They were reportedly beaten and denied medical treatment after the video was posted online.
On the phone, Zeng describes the successive levels of pressure that the government applies to her: "First of all, there is worrying about [Hu's] safety. For some time, we didn't even know where he was and what kind of abuse he was suffering. I worry about his health, about his mental situation."
"Then there is the question of making a living and sustaining some income as a de facto single mother," she continues. (Zeng's daughter is three-and-a-half years old. Her father was imprisoned shortly after she was born). "Because of constant police harassment, I could not get a good job or start a business. For a time, I couldn't even get a nanny for my child because when I hired one, the police would threaten her and scare her away."
Zeng says the psychological warfare she faces is brutal. Between threats and detentions, she repeatedly has to deal with the innuendo from her surveillance teams and government-sponsored neighborhood committees, which suggest there were "high-positioned" men "interested" in her and imply that she could improve her situation greatly if only she would leave her partner.
"All this is meant to isolate me from society and to break me down," Zeng concludes. "Sometimes it works. They planted deep trauma in my heart."
Although Zeng has chosen to join her husband in dissenting against the government, picking up where Hu was forced to leave off when he was arrested for his activism, some relatives of dissidents prefer to keep quiet. Still others try to actively distance themselves from activism, sometimes going so far as to move to an entirely new city or even to file for divorce. That's what happened in the case of Yang Zili, a social commentator who was imprisoned for eight years in 2001 for organizing a discussion group on political issues. His wife at the time, Lu Kun, petitioned several times on his behalf, took care of his defense and finances, and visited prison when allowed, but eventually moved to the United States. The couple divorced after Yang was released in 2009. Yang says he understood her decision. "It is just too much pressure, being the wife of a dissident in China; it's a fate many prefer to avoid," he says. Still, Lu's choice also made Yang's life more difficult: the last couple of years of his prison term he was held in almost complete isolation, with no family visits at all.
"Tactics are definitely designed to put pressure on those who contemplate political activism," Rosenzweig explains. "It is one thing to be willing to confront authorities or even go to jail, and another thing to know your family will suffer. This doesn't always deter everyone from speaking up, but it is a factor dissidents take into account." Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel laureate, referred to this factor in addressing his wife in a speech before the court that sentenced him -- after a speedy trial that Liu Xia was not allowed to attend -- to 11 years in prison: "Throughout all these years ... our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savor its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin.... My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it at times makes me stagger under its weight," Liu said.
Wives (and in some cases husbands) are not the only ones who earn the attention of the state: Zeng's parents, who live in Fujian province, receive frequent police visits, while her in-laws in Beijing were put under house arrest several times. In another case, the elderly parents of an activist were threatened by the local police in their small town and were then rushed to Beijing so that they could pressure their son to stop his involvement in human rights organizations. A Shanghai lawyer, Li Tiantian, reported in February that her boyfriend was threatened that he'll be dismissed from his job on account of her activism. Li has since been taken into police custody.