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October 9, 2007

Comics Scholar Ernesto Priego Denied Entry Into USA To Present At ICAF

Marc Singer, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF), a leading North American event for comics scholarship whose 12th edition starts in Washington, D.C. October 18, has informed CR that one of their presenters, Ernesto Priego, has been denied entry into the United States. According to Singer, the US government has declined to renew Priego's visa. A statement on their site reads as follows:
Ernesto Priego is unable to present his paper at ICAF because he has been denied entry into the United States of America. The U.S. government has not renewed his visa, nor have they given him any explanation why he will not be allowed into the country. ICAF protests this refusal of entry, part of a recent and disturbing trend of excluding foreign scholars, as an infringement on academic freedom.
A native of Mexico and a published poet, Priego is currently a doctoral candidate at University College in London. He was scheduled to present a paper called "The Tell-Tale Smell of Burning Paper: 'Logic of Form' and the Origin of Comics." This was scheduled for the theory and practice of comics studies track headed by Charles Hatfield.

ICAF only learned about the denial on Tuesday, and it's believed that Priego learned about the matter himself very recently. An e-mail to Priego has yet to be answered. Singer says that Priego has been held up by US immigration before while coming to attend other conferences in the states. He suggests that this denial fits a recent pattern of "excluding foreign scholars from visiting or working in the US, usually because they have been critical of the current administration." (One such recent case is that of South African scholar Adam Habib.)

Singer added further comment today at his widely-read blog, including the abstract of Priego's paper.

UPDATE (10/13): Priego has since publicly stated he was not denied entry and simply didn't renew his Visa properly. In fact, he states that the problem may have been he did not renew his Visa with his academic intentions stated, from which I assume he means to indicate he believes this would have been a boon to coming over, not a hindrance. Although it looks like some people including those quoted from above are shifting their reading of what happened from the suggestion of an overt attempt against Priego speaking in America and into an arbitrary action that still limits academic freedom, I don't agree with them in terms of the severity of what happened and despite that being a stupid policy it's not one I would have given an article over to covering, nor would I have repeated the language used such as "denied". Oddly, Mr. Priego has declined further comment.
posted 10:30 pm PST | Permalink

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