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Guest comment: About those green cards …

15 Aug

From time to time, we’ll offer space for someone with a point of view. This is one of those times. It involves Johannes Reinhardt, 43, a native of the Franconia region of Germany whose family has been in the winemaking business for 600 years. He is the head winemaker at Anthony Road Wine Company in the Finger Lakes.

by JIM TREZISE

Immigration policies in the United States have reached a point of counterproductive absurdity fueled by hysterical politics and denying our country some truly great talent and contributions.

A sad and frustrating case in point is an extraordinarily talented and successful winemaker in the Finger Lakes who for years has been trying to get his “green card” so he can confidently stay in the area and continue to bolster its reputation for quality.

The German-born wine maker has unique training, experience, and talents that simply can’t be replicated by anyone else, and his impressive string of major national and international awards provides clear evidence. His achievements have elevated the stature of the winery and the entire region.

He is about as far from being a threat of the U.S. as anyone I know.  And yet. despite all the evidence submitted and the support he has received from many people including me, the immigration authorities turned down his application, which is now being submitted again.

9/11 certainly was a wake-up call to our country’s vulnerability, and indeed the whole immigration issue is highly complex and volatile.  But, this is a no-brainer: a lawful, honest, hard-working, talented professional who wants stay with us.  What’s so scary about that? And where went the country that once welcomed the world?

Jim Trezise is president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, an education, marketing and lobbying industry group headquartered in Canandaigua.

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