Another Scholar, an Expert on Comics, Is Denied a U.S. Visa

October 10, 2007

In another case of a foreign scholar finding an unwelcome mat on the United States’ doorstep, Ernesto Priego, a doctoral candidate at University College, London, was recently denied a visa to enter the country to appear at an academic conference.

Mr. Priego, a native of Mexico who had visited the United States before and is studying at the British university’s School of Library, Archive, and Information Studies, had been scheduled to speak at the International Comic Arts Forum, on October 19 in Washington. His topic was to be the origin of comics.

Shortly before he hoped to leave for the United States, however, he learned that the U.S. government had refused to renew his visa, for unknown reasons. A State Department official declined to comment on the case.

Mr. Priego’s situation resembles the fate of dozens of foreign academics who, in the years since the September 11 terrorist attacks, have been unable to obtain U.S. visas. The trend has prompted lawsuits, and critics say the Bush administration is using post-9/11 security measures to keep out foreign scholars whose politics or ideas it does not like.

Mr. Priego could not immediately be reached for comment. The conference organizers said they hoped to have someone else deliver his paper. —Anna Weggel