Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is facing heat over his immigration records and work history. The issue has surfaced during his campaign to become the next Governor of California.
Schwarzenegger entered the United States in 1968 on a B-1 visa, which allows a select group of visitors, such as training athletes, to come into the United States for brief periods of business. Under this rule, “a non-immigrant in B-1 status may not receive a salary from a U.S. source for services rendered in connection with his or her activities in the United States.” However, the rules do allow immigrants to receive “actual reasonable expenses,” such as money for food and hotel rooms.
In his 1977 autobiography, Schwarzenegger stated that he worked out an agreement with Joe Weider to come to America. Under this agreement, Schwarzenegger provided Weider information about how he trained, while Weider provided Schwarzenegger with an apartment, a car, and payment of a weekly salary.
Weider stated earlier this month that the weekly salary was $200. Last week, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger said that he was only paid $65 per week. At the end of last week, Weider stated that he could not remember the details of the business deal.
After questioning about half-dozen immigration attorneys on whether this payment would have been allowable, the Mercury News reported that his visa would likely have been barred under these circumstances. However, some attorneys noted the more rigorous application procedures that are now present for the immigration process. In the 1960s, the procedures were much more lax than they are now.
Schwarzenegger attorney Tom Hiltachk said Schwarzenegger received an H-2 visa, which allowed him to work in this country, in November 1969 – after more than a year in the United States. He became a permanent resident in 1974 and a citizen in 1983.
In addition, Schwarzenegger’s new ad campaign on a Spanish-language radio station announces his humble beginnings in America as a bricklayer. Several immigration attorneys also believe that he violated the terms of his H-2 work visa by launching this bricklaying business in 1971. According to further reports by the Mercury News, immigration attorneys across the country said Schwarzenegger would have been barred by visa restrictions from starting his own business. Moreover, there is no record that Schwarzenegger and the Italian bodybuilder that he paired up with ever received a required state contractor’s license.
In addition, following this latest immigration issue, Hiltachk said it is unclear what type of visa Schwarzenegger had when he started the bricklaying business. But whether Schwarzenegger had an H-2 or another temporary visa, immigration attorneys said, the bodybuilder would have been barred from doing any work as a bricklayer or handyman.
“If they come into the United States to pick tomatoes, they can’t go out and work at McDonald’s,” said Nancy Alby, an assistant center director at the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Naturalization Services, who spoke in general about H-2 visas and did not comment specifically on Schwarzenegger’s case. “They have to do exactly what they were let into the United States to do.”
The immigration issue fires up a debate over Schwarzenegger’s support for Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot measure that sought to keep illegal immigrants from receiving some state educational and social services. He also vows to fight a new law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Schwarzenegger has said that immigrants must follow the rules like he did.
The federal government and the Bureau of Immigration and Citizenship Services declined to discuss Schwarzenegger’s immigration file or release his full file. Only a one-page article was released to the Mercury News when they requested the information.