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Re: [Debconf-team] [DC14] Portland team: DebConf in the USA

On 17/03/13 01:30, Steve Langasek wrote:
> Hi Gunnar,
> On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 07:26:26PM -0600, Gunnar Wolf wrote:
>> And as the mails I just sent, some salient questions for you:
>> USA, the eternal debate
>> =======================
>> First, there's the obvious issue of going to the USA. Several European
>> DebConf usual attendees voiced their opposition (and some didn't
>> travel) to DebConf10, and several non-first-world will probably have a
>> hard time getting the visa.
> Thanks for giving us the opportunity to address this question.
> I am aware that there are Europeans involved in Debian who were
> conscientious objectors to DC10 being held in the US; and I applaud their

My comments were not in the context of `conscientious objector' - I just
thought the coverage of this issue in the bid needed to be beefed up a
little bit, if for no other reason than to show respect for those who
would be unable to attend

> opposition to modern oppressive travel regimes and respect their personal
> choice to not travel to conferences in the US.  However, making this a
> DebConf-level issue is a deplorable double-standard:
>  - Governments and airlines of EU nations are complicit in the enforcement
>    of the US's invasive security rules.
>  - The EU is not more friendly to visitors from (arbitrary) developing
>    countries than the US is.

Looking at the stats:

- 37 countries are in the US Visa Waiver Program

- 72 countries (27 EU countries + 4 EEA countries + 41 `Annex II'
countries) have visa-free EU travel:

and the EU policy automatically extends to family members regardless of
birthplace.  In contrast, US policy is to assume that family members
(with a US resident spouse or parent) are `conspiring' to migrate

I've heard of cases where X has a US residence permit, and so X's
son/daughter is almost automatically denied a visitor visa.

My comments were only to demonstrate a contrast - there are countries
that are easier to visit than the EU countries too.

>  - The (logistical and monetary) costs for getting a visa to the EU if you
>    must apply for one are not substantially different from those for getting
>    a visa to the US.

Agreed, and my offer remains open, if the Portland team wants to fund
calls to the embassy 0900 numbers for people requesting visa
appointments, I'm happy to provide a WebRTC interface for that so
individuals won't have to use their own phones to call.

>  - While the US immigration regime differs in some relevant details from
>    that in the EU, such as the fingerprinting requirement, the broad strokes
>    of the policies are the same.

> by sponsoring plane tickets for developers in Canada and the US down to
> Venezuela.

My query was not about comparing Portland with Venezuela, it was simply
about acknowledging the extent of this problem for the US, for any
potential DebConf in any year

> [1] http://www.debian.org/devel/developers.loc
> Oh, and just to throw in some numbers: according to [2], 825 of 920 active
> Debian developers (90%) live in countries whose citizens are eligible for
> travel to the US without a visa.  That includes the 37 visa waiver program

When you consider that the remaining 10% is not an insignificant number
of people and they make as valuable a contribution to the Debian project
as anybody else, I think it is important for any DebConf bid to take
some time to reflect on their travel situation.

> countries listed on [3], as well as the US and Canada.  It does not include
> Mexico, for which (as you know) the US has its own particular system of
> visas valid for 10 years.
> [2] http://www.perrier.eu.org/weblog/2012/06/06
> [3] http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html

As I mentioned previously, I think the US (20% of DDs) is big enough to
run their own event from time to time even if it wasn't the official
`global' DebConf.  It could well be an annual thing and would be very
successful, it's just that some people might never be able to go
(whether it is from the luxury of objecting, or the bad luck of being on
the black list)

I have no other comments in favor of or against either bid and I would
personally enjoy attending a DebConf in either location.

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