TV Journalist Can't Get Visa Renewed

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 9/26/2013 6:53 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) - Lawmakers in Washington are focused on immigration reform this year.
The congress will try to fix a badly flawed program that impacts the future welfare of millions.
But most of that attention is focused on undocumented people---those who are here illegally.
The immigration system can also impact the lives of those who are working legally in the United States.

Sometimes the stories we report affect us news folks personally.
Such is the case with this young man---James Mahon.
You've seen his work here on News 12 since January.
James is a talented journalist who just happened to be born in Ireland.
He's not a green card worker.
He's here legally with a work permit--or at least he was until yesterday.
As of now he's out of work because his request for an extension is buried somewhere in the vaults at the Immigration service.

JAMES MAHON, JOURNALIST "It's close to impossible to try and do the right thing. It's becoming more and more of a challenge to stay here legally, and work here legally and continue paying taxes..than I would have ever imagined."

His plight has not escaped other news organizations and even the talk shows like this one on WGOW 102.3.
A journalism group in New York is circulating a "Let's Save James" petition.

He is in the U.S. on the same kind of work visa that allows performers and sports figures to stay here.
Unlike James, they are not still building a high profile career.
He's had to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees, and wait since August for a simple document extending his work period.

JAMES MAHON "A lot of it seems to be bureaucracy . A lot of it seems to be filing paperwork and waiting around. And that is unfortunate in that in situations like this, where I want to keep working, try to keep contributing in some respect ..maybe not to an extraordinary standard but at least trying to contribute to society."

But in the meanwhile---James is in limbo.

JAMES MAHON "Until then, I can't do anything. Until I can drive, I can't work, I have to just sit and wait."

We're all hoping that bureaucratic snag can be worked out soon and that James can return daily reporting. .

Since there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason for the delay in granting permission for him to work, James contacted Senator Bob Corker's office and a representative from Congressman Chuck Fleischmann's office.
We're told they are both making inquiries with Homeland Security and the Immigration Service.

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eltusa - 9/28/2013 8:01 AM
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While everybody is talking about how to fix TVE broken immigration system and how legalize undocumented people, anybody cares people like James that came legally and is trying to stay here by doing the right thing. The path to the citizenship, even to get a green card, is a nightmare through a work visa. I'm in my last three-years period of H1b visa and waiting for a labor certification from the government. It is the first step before asking a green card to USCIS. I will have to wait at least 5 years until they could take my application, according with the current wait list from the current proceeding. Meanwhile I can not work for anyone else that my sponsor and I have to keep the same duties and salary. Also, my wife can not to work during the whole process.
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