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IAEM To Meet With Government Officials to Urge Changes in Immigration and Travel Policies

Trade Show Executive
March 26, 2003
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Dallas - Next Tuesday, IAEM will  meet with members of Congress, representatives of Homeland Security, the FBI, the U.S. State Department  and Federal security agencies in a closed door meeting to urge changes in U.S. immigration and travel policies. The association will use the meeting to demonstrate that poorly designed and executed immigration policies have been very costly to U.S. businesses.  IAEM will ask for the establishment of a “Fast Track” policy that recognizes prior favorable history of a business traveler who has complied with our laws and does not appear on any government security watchlists. IAEM say that such a policy will  make it easier for that person to enter the country compared to a first-time visitor.

Jack Withiam Jr., Senior VP & General Counsel, George Little Management, will deliver the statement and present a report containing IAEM member data that documents the dollar impact U.S. immigration policy has had on the show organizers, cities, and states of specific shows. Accompanying Withiam will be Cathy Breden, Chief Operating Officer, IAEM.

IAEM has been working with Representative Donald Manzullo from the House Committee on Small Business for a year and a half, says Steven Hacker, President, IAEM. He says the March 30th  meeting is a follow-up to a  meeting on June 4, 2003 when  Gary Shapiro, President & CEO, Consumer Electronics Association, first suggested the adoption of a “Fast Track” policy on behalf of IAEM. “We received a favorable response last June and hope this meeting will enable us to go to the next level,” says Hacker.  A formal open congressional hearing may follow in several months.

IAEM’s plan for the meeting is to discuss the economic obstacles our industry has encountered since 911. Hacker says IAEM’s position is that national security is the Number One  priority, but at the same time, our industry would like to see steps made to enhance the efficiency of immigration policy—especially those policies that result in exhibitors, visitors and freight being denied or delayed in transit to the U.S.

The problem is not only policies and procedures, but also impressions and perceptions as visitors are encountering specific difficulties in obtaining travel visas, says Hacker. “It is currently not a user friendly experience to come to the U.S. There is a feeling among foreign nationals that the U.S. doesn’t want them here,” he says.

One example given by Hacker is that of the ImageWear Show. The show received a letter from Mexico stating that half of the exhibitors had decided not to participate in the show because of what they called “humiliating requirements.” Hacker says, “The letter said that the exhibitors had decided not to participate in order ‘not to suffer any other abuse of their human rights.’”

The International Woodworking, Machinery and Supply Fair is assisting with IAEM’s efforts, sharing what Hacker calls “compelling data.” IAEM is also asking members to share details of how these policies have negatively affected their shows.

IAEM  will release a report which contains member data that documents the dollar impact of U.S. immigration policy on show organizers, cities, and states on  March 31 on its web site ( TSE will provide continuing coverage.

Contact Steven Hacker, President, IAEM at (972) 458-8002 or

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