- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

BOGOTA, Colombia When Mariana Bruzzone moved from Argentina to the United States, she envisioned leaving behind an economic crisis, getting a professional job and buying a house.
That was before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks ended her faith in the United States as a haven of security and economic opportunity.
Miss Bruzzone, 25, flew home with her Argentine boyfriend on Saturday.
"I'm scared about what happened here in the United States," said Miss Bruzzone, who lived in Miami. "I think there may be more attacks."
From Brazil to Hong Kong, U.S. consulates report that visa requests have dropped by as much as 70 percent since the attack.
With workers removing rubble and corpses from the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the U.S. economy taking a dive, the perception around the world of America as a haven of safety and prosperity has been deeply shaken.
In Hong Kong, requests for U.S. visas have dropped 70 percent since the attack, compared with the same period last year. In Chile, they are down at least 50 percent. In Brazil, lines of people applying for visas used to form at dawn outside the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro and snake onto Presidente Wilson Avenue. Today, those lines are much shorter.
About 840,000 people from around the world became naturalized U.S. citizens in 1999 up from 308,000 in 1991 with Mexico and the Philippines providing the largest share. Now, some new arrivals are actually leaving.
"We came looking for economic security and to build professional careers," Miss Bruzzone said. "We wanted to live well here, buy a house, to have our car, to have children and see them grow up here with better education."
As Washington prepares a counterstrike against terrorism, many Muslims across the globe are especially concerned, fearing they might be attacked or harassed in the United States.
The 19 suspected hijackers who carried out the terror attacks are all believed to have been Muslims and connected to Osama bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist hiding in Afghanistan.
"Before today, America was a land of opportunities for me," said Yasar Shafi, a medical student in New Delhi. "From today, it would be the worst place on earth to be [because] I am a Muslim."
Since Sept. 11, there have been dozens of incidents in the United States of Arab-Americans and Asians being attacked, threatened or harassed, and several turbaned Sikhs who are not Muslims have been murdered.
"That ends the whole idea of America as a free country, where people from everywhere are supposed to go and realize those dreams they can't make true in their countries," said Mahmoud Farahat, an Egyptian who said he recently graduated from the University of Miami.
Mr. Farahat was in Cairo on vacation last week, but planned to return to America, even though "life will never be the same."
The rising apprehension about living in the United States cuts across ethnic, religious and geographical boundaries.
In Dublin, construction worker Denis Rafferty vowed never to work again in the United States, as he had done in the New York area during the 1990s when the Irish economy was in a slump.
"Here, the worst thing that might happen is if I fell off the scaffold," said Mr. Rafferty, who is building an office block in Ireland's capital.
Even long-term residents of the United States are reassessing.
Rodolfo Araujo, a radiologist in Morris, Ill., has lived in America for 38 years and had tentatively planned to move to his native Colombia in two years when he retires.
He is now even more inclined to do so because of the Sept. 11 attacks, even though a civil war is raging in Colombia that kills thousands every year. Underscoring the dangers, Dr. Araujo's sister was kidnapped a week ago by Marxist rebels in Colombia.
To be sure, there's no indication that the cooling of interest in America is universal. Requests for visas have been steady in impoverished Zimbabwe, in Singapore and some other countries.
For many, like Effiah Nkrumah, a 28-year-old mother of two in Accra, Ghana, the United States still represents the promise of a better life.
"America is America," Mrs. Nkrumah said as she waited for a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy. "Whatever happens there, it still remains the land of prosperity."
Some like Anupama Mohan, an English teacher in New Delhi would rather wait and see what happens before considering a move.
"I saw America as the beacon of the world," said Mrs. Mohan. "I have not been to America. I'd like to, but not for the next two years at least."

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