Publication Date



“Why should we be afraid of this man and his ideas?” asked Secretary of State William P. Rogers, referring to Belgian, Marxist economist Ernest Mandel.1 In 1969, Mandel applied for a nonimmigrant visa to visit the United States after receiving invitations to speak at several American colleges and universities, including Amherst College, Columbia University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the New School for Social Research.2 Mandel had received visas to visit the United States twice before: one in 1962 and another in 1968.3 Yet, this time, Mandel’s application for a visa was denied.4

The State Department informed Mandel he was inadmissible under a provision in the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 that barred foreigners who advocated, wrote, or published “the economic, international, and governmental doctrines of world communism.”5 Apparently Mandel was always inadmissible under this provision, but had received waivers of inadmissibility on the recommendation of the State Department and approval of the Attorney General.6 This time, however, the State Department did not recommend a waiver.7

Unbeknownst to Mandel, he entered the United States under a conditional visa, which placed limitations on his activities.8 The State Department claimed he strayed from his stated itinerary during his 1968 visit by attending a cocktail party, which included fundraising to support students involved in May 1968 protests in France.9 Mandel assured the State Department that, if granted a visa, he would abide by its conditions.10 The State Department agreed and recommended Mandel’s visa under a waiver of inadmissibility, but Attorney General John N. Mitchell refused to grant the waiver.11