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April 30, 2005

Reminder: Last Day to Use Old I-129

Remember that USCIS will cease to accept pre-3/17/05 versions of Form I-129 after April 30, 2005. As that date falls on a Saturday, the safest course is to ensure that older versions of Form I-129 arrive at USCIS no later than tomorrow, April 29, 2005.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

To: Concerned Advocates, Community-Based Organizations, Religious Leaders, Union Leaders, Bar Associations, etc.

I just received this from Peter Schey about Real Id. I tried to call Senator Frist (R-TN): Chief of Staff Andrea Becker (202) 224-3344; andrea_becker@frist.senate.gov. However the mailbox for Senator Frist is full. So I sent an e-mail with a screen shot from my blog to Andrea Becker, his chief of staff to oppose Real Id.
;
To: Concerned Advocates, Community-Based Organizations, Religious Leaders, Union Leaders, Bar Associations, etc.

Fm: Peter Schey, President, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law

Re: REAL ID Act -- Please immediately Contact Chiefs of Staff

We have compiled a list of the Chiefs of Staff of the key Conference Committee Senators, and House and Senate leaders, and their phone numbers and email addresses. The Chiefs of Staff report directly to their Senate and House bosses, so emailing or calling them gets you right to the top.

Please circulate this message to immigration clients and community-based organizations today (Friday April 29). Please use the information below to IMMEDIATELY contact House and Senate members involved in the REAL ID conference committee and urge them to reject the REAL ID Act. Information about why the REAL ID Act will hurt rather than help the national security, and will devastate many law-abiding immigrant families, may be found at the web sites of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Lutheran Immigration Services, National Immigration Forum, and the National Council of Law Raza (or just do a google search for REAL ID). A detailed critical analysis of the REAL ID is also attached below.

In our experience the Chiefs of Staff of members of Congress meet with their bosses daily and we therefore recommend you contact these Chiefs of Staff (all contact info is below). The following Senate and House leaders are playing important roles in deciding the fate of the immigration provisions:

Senator Frist (R-TN): Chief of Staff Andrea Becker (202) 224-3344; andrea_becker@frist.senate.gov
Senator McConnell (R-KY): Chief of Staff Billy Piper (202) 224-2541; billy_piper@mcconnell.senate.gov
Senator Kyl (R-AZ): Chief of Staff Tim Glazewski 202-224-4521 tim_glazewski@kyl.senate.gov
Representative Hastert (R-IL): Chief of Staff Scott Palmer 202-225-2976; scott_palmer@hastert.house.gov
Representative DeLay (R-TX): Chief of Staff Tim Berry 202-225-5951; tim_berry@delay.house.gov
Representative Blunt (R-MO): Chief of Staff Brian Gaston 202-225-6536 blunt@mail.house.gov and brian_gaston@blunt.house.gov

Senate Conferees include:

Cochran, (R-MS): Chief of Staff Mark Keenum 202-224-5054 mark_keenum@cochran.senate.gov
Stevens, (R-AK): Chief of Staff George Lowe 202-224-3004 george_lowe@stevens.senate.gov
Specter, (R-PA): Chief of Staff David Brog 202-224-4254 david_brog@specter.senate.gov
Domenici, (R-NM): Chief of Staff Steve Bell 202-224-6621 steve_bell@domenici.senate.gov
Bond, (R-MO): Chief of Staff Julie Dammann 202-224-5721 julie_dammann@bond.senate.gov
McConnell, (R-KY): Chief of Staff Billy Piper (202) 224-2541; billy_piper@mcconnell.senate.gov
Burns, (R-MT): Chief of Staff Clark Johnson 202-224-2644 clark_johnson@burns.senate.gov
Shelby, (R-AL): Chief of Staff: Louis Tucker 202-224-5744 louis_tucker@shelby.senate.gov
Gregg, (R-NH): Chief of Staff Vas Christopulos 202-224-3324 vas_christopulos@gregg.senate.gov
Bennett, (R-UT): Chief of Staff Chip Yost 202-224-5444 chip_yost@bennett.senate.gov
Craig, (R-ID): Chief of Staff Mike Ware 202-224-2752 mike_ware@craig.senate.gov
Hutchison, (R-TX): Chief of Staff Lindsey Parham 202-224-5922 lindsey_parham@hutchinson.senate.gov
DeWine, (R-OH): Chief of Staff Laurel Pressler 202-224-2315 laurel_pressler@dewine.senate.gov
Brownback, (R-KS): Chief of Staff Rob Wasinger 202-224-6521 rob_wasinger@brownback.senate.gov
Allard, (R-CO): Chief of Staff Sean Conway 202-224-5941 sean_conway@allard.senate.gov
Byrd, (D-WV): Chief of Staff Kerry Ates 202-224-6472 kerry_ates@rockefeller.senate.gov
Inouye, (D-HI): Chief of Staff Patrick DeLeon 202-224-3934 patrick_deleon@inouye.senate.gov
Leahy, (D-VT): Chief of Staff Ed Pagano 202-224-4242 ed_pagano@leahy.senate.gov
Harkin, (D-IA): Chief of Staff Brian Ahlberg 202-224-3254 brian_ahlberg@harkin.senate.gov
Mikulski, (D-MD): Chief of Staff Julia Frifield 202-224-4654 julia_frifield@mikulski.senate.edu
Reid, (D-NV): Chief of Staff Susan McCue 202-224-3542 susan_mccue@reid.senate.gov
Kohl, (D-WI): Chief of Staff Paul Bock 202-224-5653 paul_bock@kohl.senate.gov
Murray, (D-WA): Chief of Staff Rick Desimone 202-224-2621 rick_desimone@murray.senate.gov
Dorgan, (D-ND): Chief of Staff Bernie Toon 202-224-2551 bernie_toon@dorgan.senate.gov
Feinstein, (D-CA): Chief of Staff Mark Kadesh 202-224-3841 mark_kadesh@feinstein.senate.gov
Durbin, (D-IL): Chief of Staff Ed Greelegs 202-224-2152 ed_greelegs@durbin.senate.gov
Johnson, (D-SD): Chief of Staff Drey Samuelson 202-224-5842 drey_samuelson@johnson.senate.gov
Landrieu, (D-LA): Chief of Staff Norma Jane Sabiston 202-224-5824 norma_sabiston@landrieu.senate.gov

THE REAL ID ACT: A RADICAL AND MISGUIDED
APPROACH TO IMMIGRATION REFORM

By Peter Schey
President, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
www.centerforhumanrights.org
pschey@centerforhumanrights,org


Those who care about national security, safe highways, or humane treatment of migrants, should immediately contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators urging them to oppose the REAL ID Act. Please contact key Chiefs of Staff of Senators who may make a difference (see email addresses and phone numbers included with this email message). Or, visit the web site of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, www.aila.org (follow the link “Contact Congress").

Passage by the House of the REAL ID Act is something akin to legislative vigilantism. International standards and this country’s historic commitment to legitimate asylum seekers are abandoned in favor of harsh, irrational, and probably unconstitutional policies. Bounty hunters are encouraged to track down suspected undocumented migrants. Legitimate national security concerns are cast aside in favor of irrational xenophobic policies that scapegoat migrants for the crimes of terrorists.

There are many reasons why the Senate and the Conference Committee would be well advised to reject this radical and foolish proposal.

Cracking down on asylum seekers – REAL ID’s solution to send innocent people back to their persecutors or have them join the ranks of undocumented migrants living in the U.S.

First, the REAL ID Act will deny refuge to those fleeing persecution by substantially heightening already stiff rules asylum-seekers must overcome to win relief from deportation. Rigorous rules have already greatly reduced the small size of successful asylum seekers in this country. In 2003, the most recent year for which the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) makes statistics available, only 15,470 migrants of all nationalities were granted asylum by the CIS. That was a major decrease in approved cases from the 25,773 granted in 2002, 28,689 in 2001, and 22,859 in 2000. The numbers of asylees granted lawful permanent resident status has also decreased substantially over recent years, with 44,927 cases approved in 2003, compared with 126,084 in 2002, 108,506 in 2002 and 65,941 in 2001.

The proponents of the REAL ID law will only be happy when these numbers approach zero. However, as virtually all migration experts understand, when people are fleeing persecution, torture, or death, insurmountable asylum laws on a country’s books will not stop the migrants’ flight to freedom. Instead, these migrants will simply live in undocumented status, glad to be alive even if they’re living underground, surviving in a black market economy, and subject to exploitation in a multitude of ways. I have represented tens of thousands of asylum seekers in several class action lawsuits. Nevertheless, I have yet to meet an asylum seeker who studied U.S. asylum law before fleeing his or her persecutors and entering this country in search of safe haven.

The REAL ID will also violate binding obligations the United States has undertaken under several international instruments, including the United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees which provides, in part, that no state shall deport any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

The proposed restrictions on asylum seekers also likely violate the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man Articles XVIII (the right to an effective remedy) and XXVII (the right to asylum), the American Convention on Human Rights Articles 22(2),(7),(8) 24 and 25 (right to leave any country freely, to political asylum, equal treatment before the law and judicial protection), and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles 8, 13(2) and 14 (the rights to leave one's country freely, to seek asylum in other countries, to equal protection before the law, and to an effective remedy).

In terms of the fight against terrorism, there is no reason to believe any potential terrorist would ever come to the United States and seek asylum as his or her “ticket” into the country. It is unquestionably far easier for a potential terrorist to come enter this country as a tourist or foreign student. Asylum applicants must provide a wide range of detailed information about their backgrounds not required of applicants for other visas. It is also well known that asylum seekers are detained at our air and sea ports pending review of their cases. Terrorists are not looking for ways to be detained by the U.S. Government the moment they arrive here.

The notion that the national security is in any way served by making it more difficult than it already is to obtain asylum in this country is ludicrous. It will simply add to an already large population of undocumented migrants who live in this country without the Government knowing who they are, what they are doing, or where they live. That will obviously not help the nation’s security in any way.

Cracking down on migrants freedom of speech -- Let’s support dictatorships as a way of fighting terrorism

The REAL ID Act next aims its hammer at non-citizens who have the temerity to support liberation struggles in their home countries or make donations for things like tsunami relief to non-military social services groups that are linked to armed groups fighting to overthrow repressive regimes. Under the REAL ID Act, Nicaraguans who supported the U.S-backed “Contras” fighting to overthrow the Sandinista Government would all be tossed out of the United States. So would those who supported Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, or who sent money to a fund to win Mandela’s freedom from a life sentence in prison.

This portion of the REAL ID Act is a real gift to dictators and repressive regimes all around the world. Many of the same anti-immigrant legislators who seek to ban migrants from supporting struggles for democracy in their home countries are the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms in the United States. They obviously agree that the use of arms in the American Revolution and other revolutions against repressive regimes throughout history were fully justified. They forget that even the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the legitimacy of “rebellion against tyranny.” Nevertheless, the REAL ID Act tells the world’s repressive regimes and dictatorships that migrants fleeing to the United States will be prohibited on pain of deportation from in any way supporting those fighting to topple these regimes. Indeed, migrants will not even be permitted to support non-military groups providing social services to suffering communities if such groups have any links to grousp engaged in armed struggles to overthrow brutal dictatorships.

This policy of course in no way helps the national security unless one believes that our security is somehow mysteriously enhanced by supporting dictatorships around the world. Indeed, support of repressive regimes, in this case by muzzling their opponents in the United States, may if anything encourage terrorist acts against the United States.

The federal judiciary is out of control – Let’s hammer migrants to ease Congressional frustration

Next, unable to secure their pound of flesh from an independent judiciary they consider out of control, it is relatively easy for frustrated anti-immigrant legislators to take a slap at the judiciary when it comes to non-citizens. The REAL ID Act restricts a federal judge’s authority to review cases involving migrants who have been treated unlawfully by the Department of Homeland Security. Most troubling, the law would take away a federal judge’s ability to temporarily halt a deportation while the judge was reviewing an appeal of the migrant’s case. This is like passing a law that prohibited any federal judge from granting Terri Schiavo’s parents a temporary stay to save her life while the court reviewed their appeal.

Under present law a federal judge may only grant a temporary stay of deportation if the judge is convinced that a migrant’s appeal raises substantial issues and establishes a likelihood of success on the merits of the appeal. This rule protects migrant’s with legitimate appeals from premature deportation while also safe-guarding against delay in the execution of a deportation order if the appeal appears to have little merit.

Many of the same legislators who believed that a person in a 15-year vegetative state should in effect have every possible access to federal appeals so that a life would not be wrongfully ended, have no trouble sending an asylum seeker back to his or her persecutors even in the face of death while his useless appeal remains pending before a powerless judge. Migrants must now it seems pay the price for Congress’ frustration with constitutional rules relating to the historic writ of habeas corpus, the separation of powers, and independence of the judiciary.

Cracking down on migrant drivers licenses – Let’s support unsafe streets and highway deaths, and make sure we cannot track down terrorists

Next the REAL ID turns its anti-immigrant legislative hammer on immigrants’ ability to get drivers licenses. The proposed law ignores the fact that in December 2004 the Congress passed the Intelligence Reform Act, which includes detailed and comprehensive federal standards on state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs to improve security and reduce fraud. The provisions of the Intelligence Reform Act were recommended and endorsed by the 9/11 Commission.

Under the REAL ID, several million immigrants, including those who have played by the rules and come forward to apply to legalize their status, will be cut off from driving legally regardless what their state laws require. Do the supporters of the REAL ID Act truly believe that these migrants will immediately sell their cars and stop driving to work to support their families because a new federal law takes away their driver’s licenses?

For the most part people drive to get back and forth to work, and people work to survive and support their families. It should be reasonably clear to any thinking person that if the REAL ID Act is enacted into law, the vast majority of migrants will simply keep driving on our streets and highways without testing, licenses, registration, or insurance.

The REAL ID Act is a real good idea if you own a morgue and support traffic deaths, or an insurance company and support high uninsured motorist premiums.

From the standpoint of national security, this portion of the REAL ID Act, like many of its other provisions, will simply drive people underground and steer them clear of government information data bases, including DMV records, that are used in the fight against terrorism.

Thanks to the REAL ID, unlike the 9/11 terrorists, the next round of terrorists in this country won’t even have DMV records to tell us who they are, where they’ve lived, or what their fingerprints look like. Under the REAL ID law, the next round of terrorists will be using easily obtained fake drivers licenses. There will be no DMV records to tell us where they live, what they look like, or what their fingerprints look like. Usama Bin Laden is certainly chuckling at this proposal even if he has to ride a donkey around his hideout.

Supporting private vigilantism – Let’s encourage untrained, unsupervised and unaccountable bounty hunters to round up those migrants

Next, in a nod to the recent swell in anti-immigrant vigilantism by xenophobic private militias operating along the U.S.-Mexico border, the REAL ID Act will make migrants fair game for private bounty hunters who are provided unprecedented authority to "pursue, apprehend, detain and turn over" immigrants subject to orders of removal.

This new writ of arrest dispensed to untrained and unsupervised private citizens will certainly increase vigilantism and lead not only to wrongful and violent chases, detentions, and arrests, but also lawsuits for false arrests against the federal Government.

Enforcing the nation’s immigration laws is best left to trained and supervised officers of the Department of Homeland Security, not private bounty hunters.

Fortress America – Let’s build a Berlin Wall in a place no terrorists are likely to enter the country

Finally, in order not to miss any really bad idea, the REAL ID Act turns its attention on irregular migration across the Mexico-US border. Rather than including any rational policy change to reduce the flow of unlawful border crossing, the REAL ID instead places its trust in a fortified “fence” along our borders with Mexico and Canada.

Migrants have been crossing fences and barriers for thousands of years in order to feed their families, or reunite with their families, or escape persecution. Those who support a Berlin Wall solution to this country’s immigration policy failures should better understand the family values that drive migrants to cross dangerous and difficult frontiers in order to join their families or find work so their families at home may escape extreme poverty.

A rational solution to unlawful border crossing might include, for example, serious enforcement of penalties against employers who hire undocumented workers, a realistic adjustment of the quotas under which people may immigrate lawfully, and a major reduction in CIS backlogs that leave people in undocumented status for many years forcing them to cross the border illegally whenever they must travel to be with ill or dying relatives or simply visit their families.

The powerful “push” factors that encourage undocumented migrants to enter the United States unlawfully, combined with the “pull” factors of employment and family reunification, will always trump the fences that anti-immigrant policy makers may construct.

Building a fence along the Mexico and Canada borders is nothing more than a senseless and wasteful distraction in the fight against terrorism. It is like closing a back door to your house while leaving the front door wide open. Foreign terrorists are far more likely to enter the country “legally,” rather than risk apprehension at the time of entry by crossing the border without inspection.

Furthermore, a fence without guards is easily climbed over or tunneled under. Neither the White House nor the Congress have ever agreed to fund anything close to the number of Border Patrol agents required to effectively guard the U.S. borders.

Conclusion

Mark Twain once said that to the man who only has a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

That, unfortunately, is the problem with the authors of the REAL ID Act. Their sledge-hammer approach to immigration reform is counter-productive from the standpoint of the national security, and inhumane in its treatment of migrants who may rightfully seek benefits under existing federal law and international treaties.

It is worth noting that none of the ideas in the REAL ID Act come from the 9/11 Commission’s comprehensive report or national security or migration experts. These proposals were cooked up by people who are entirely driven by political considerations having nothing at all to do with sound immigration or national security policies.

By blocking avenues for migrants to come forward and legalize their status, the REAL ID will swell the numbers of undocumented migrants living in this country with no federal or state agencies knowing who they are, where they work, or where they live. That will help groups like Al Qaeda in their pursuit of terrorism, and will also be welcomed by employers across the land who exploit undocumented workers to increase profits. The muzzling of pro-democracy migrants will be celebrated by dictators and repressive regimes around the world

It is not easy to come up with a law that would unite the support of groups as diverse as foreign dictatorships, Al Qaeda, and domestic employers illegally hiring undocumented migrants, but, as discussed above, the REAL ID incredibly achieves that almost impossible task.

The REAL ID Act is full of real dim-witted and dangerous ideas that should be forcefully rejected by the Senate and the House-Senate Conference Committee that will soon decide the fate of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill for Iraqi war efforts and tsunami relief efforts. Senators should think about immigration policy reform with their heads, not with the hammer offered them by the House authors of the REAL ID Act.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO HELP CONTACT CONGRESS ABOUT REAL ID!

Click on the link below and send emails to your senators, congressmen, and the President opposing REAL ID. It only takes about 30 seconds to go through this exercise and it can make a huge difference to the outcome of this legislation.

Here is the link to Contact Congress: http://capwiz.com/aila2/home/

REAL ID: There's still an opportunity.
It appears that the conferees working to resolve differences between the House and Senate-passed versions of the REAL ID will not complete their work before the Senate leaves later today for a district work period. We, therefore, have more time to express to the White House and Congress our opposition to this ill-conceived measure. While the Senate does not return until May 9, Congressional staff most likely will continue negotiations.

Because many Senators will be in their states next week, we urge you to seek meetings with them over this upcoming Senate recess. (The House is not in recess next week.) Along with seeking meetings with your Senators, we urge you to continue calling them (202-224-3121) and using Contact Congress to send letters (If you have already sent a letter, you may send more than one). We also urge you to continue contacting the White House. The White House comment line is 202-456-1111.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

FY 2005 H-1B Regulation Is On the Move

The regulation implementing the 20,000 H-1B numbers for fiscal year 2005 has cleared OMB and been returned to Department of Homeland Security for signature. It is expected to move relatively quickly through the agency, and so could be published in the Federal Register as early as the beginning of next week. AILA will make every effort to obtain an advance copy as soon as it becomes available and post it on InfoNet.

It is still not known whether the 20,000 numbers will be made available to all H-1B-eligible applicants or just U.S. graduates with masters degrees or above, and what, if any, mechanism might be included to convert applications for 2006 numbers to applications for 2005 numbers. Watch for the regulation: it should contain the answers.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

More on "Minuteman"

Here is an article from the LaTimes newspaper "SACRAMENTO-Schwarzenegger says group's patrols against illegal immigrants have been effective. One critic calls remarks "nothing short of base racism." By Peter Nicholas and Robert Salladay. http://email.latimes.com/cgi-bin1/DM/y/eoZI0KMvyp0G2B0GaoX0Eg

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

LAST CHANCE TO DEFEAT REAL ID

The Senate and House formally convened the Conference Committee to reconcile differences between their respective versions of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill. The conferees intend to complete their negotiations over the REAL ID Act and other provisions before they recess tomorrow (4/29).

The White House has undermined our efforts to defeat REAL ID by advising the conferees that it strongly supports REAL ID -- link here to see the White House letter: http://www.aila.org/infonet/fileViewer.aspx?docID=18319.

So if you care about asylum, judicial review, due process, or free speech - this is your last chance to act!!! The White House can be reached by phone at 202-456-1111 or by email at: http://capwiz.com/aila2/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=6804466.

Contact the conferees NOW and urge them to strip REAL ID from the bill. The Congressional Switchboard number is 202-224-3121. If your Senators and Representatives are not conferees, they need to be called as well. Urge them to ask their colleagues on the conference committee to oppose REAL ID.

Who are the Conferees? What is the message? Please link to: http://www.aila.org/images/advo/conferees-message.doc

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005

Further Clarification from NSC on the Effect of Separation/Divorce on I-751

April 11, 2005

NSC Flash #19-2005

Revised Revision to NSC Flash #6-2005

Please note that additional clarification has been provided in regard to NSC News Flash #18 dated March 30, 2005 that amended News Flash #6 dated December 27th, 2004.

The Effect of Separation/Divorce on Pending I-751 Petitions to Remove the Conditions on Residence

• If the petitioner and beneficiary are divorced at the time the I-751 should be filed, the beneficiary should file the I-751 (only s/he needs to sign) and mark "d" in Part 2.

• If the petitioner and beneficiary filed an I-751 petition jointly but:

a)separate before a decision is made on the I-751, the beneficiary should notify the NSC that he/she is currently separated by mailing the explanation to the NSC at PO Box 82521, Lincoln NE 68501-2521.

b)get divorced while the I-751 petition is pending, the beneficiary should notify the NSC that he/she is divorced, and submit a copy of the divorce decree to the NSC at PO Box 82521, Lincoln NE 68501-2521.

• If the petitioner and beneficiary are separated or have initiated divorce proceedings at the time the I-751 is due to be filed, the petitioner and beneficiary may still file a joint petition if the petitioner is willing to sign the petition. If the petitioner is not willing to sign a joint petition, the beneficiary is not eligible to file a petition requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement due to divorce until the divorce is final UNLESS abuse is the basis for such a filing. The alien’s status may be terminated because s/he has been unable to file a timely I-751 and s/he may be placed in removal proceedings.

Petitioners and beneficiaries are reminded that required supporting documentation must accompany all petitions.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005

Fencing in Failure: Effective Border Control is Not Achieved by Building More Fences

There is an excellent policy brief about "New proposals for more fencing and Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border may only perpetuate an unsuccessful and counterproductive policy that does not effectively enhance national security or control undocumented immigration by Jason Ackleson, Ph.D.". The brief is located at http://www.ailf.org/ipc/policy_reports_2005_fencinginfailure.asp

Posted by VisaLawyer at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005

Habeas May Soon Be Gone--Consider What Must Be Done on Clients' Behalfs

I just found this Alert from AILA; There is a significant threat that Congressional conferees will adopt some or all of the House REAL ID Act provisions. Among the bill's parade of horribles is a new set of severe limitations on judicial review. If enacted, your clients could be foreclosed from pursuing habeas, mandamus or All Writs Act cases with respect to detention and removal orders. However, it does appear that habeas petitions filed before passage would be "grandfathered" and transfered to Courts of Appeal. Thus, habeas to review detention and removal orders may remain a viable option only for a few more days.

Specifics about the possible limits on judicial review can be found at http://www.unrealidea.org/lccr.pdf

In addition to any actions you might take to protect your individual clients' interests, please also act now to try to protect their interests globally: Contact your members of Congress now, by calling 202-224-3121 or by emailing through Contact Congress at http://capwiz.com/aila2/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7313861. There is still a chance to defeat this horrific legislation!

Posted by VisaLawyer at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Packet for the SOLVE Act

THE SOLVE ACT OF 2004:
Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement Act of 2004
The SOLVE Act is comprehensive immigration reform legislation that:
• Legalizes hard working people
• Reunites close family members on a humane and timely basis
• Regularizes the flow of legal immigration by reforming the temporary worker system
• Strengthens worker protections by safeguarding employees' rights
• Enhances national security
The SOLVE Act recognizes that the current system is broken. All sides of the immigration policy debate agree that our current immigration policies have failed: People are dying at our borders, families endure long separations, many are forced to live underground existences, American businesses cannot find needed workers or determine if their workers are undocumented, and U.S. government resources are spent targeting people who fill our labor market needs rather than those who wish to do us harm. Not only does the current enforcement regime fail to prevent illegal immigration, it also tolerates and even encourages undocumented immigration. In fact, our failed border enforcement policies force migrants to risk their lives crossing the border, at an average rate of more than one death per day, to arrive at jobs in industries that openly acknowledge their reliance on this workforce. Long waiting lists and backlogs in family-based immigration encourage immediate family members to remain here undocumented rather than face long separations from their loved ones or risk crossing a dangerous border. The current immigration system hurts U.S. businesses, U.S. families, and U.S. security while it benefits unscrupulous employers, traffickers, and smugglers, who take advantage and profit from this broken system.
The SOLVE Act proposes needed comprehensive reform that will fix an unworkable and outdated system and will make immigration safe, legal, and orderly: The SOLVE Act includes provisions that will reunite families, reward work, respect workers, and reduce illegal immigration. The SOLVE Act will:
• Reunite families by reducing the years of family separation caused by a backlogged bureaucracy and unduly restrictive laws;
• Reward work by granting immigrants who are in the U.S., working hard, paying taxes, and learning English a chance to earn legal residency over time and get on the path to citizenship;
• Respect workers by reducing the potential for exploitation and downward wage pressures by creating a "break-the-mold" worker visa program that protects the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers and provides equal rights to immigrant workers admitted in the future to fill available jobs; and
• Reduce illegal immigration by devising fair and reasonable rules that are realistic and enforceable. Over time, this measure will replace a chaotic, deadly, and illegal flow of exploitable workers and desperate family members with an orderly, safe, and legal flow of workers with full labor rights and family members with legal immigrant visas.
The SOLVE Act includes reforms that will enhance our security. This measure enhances our security by: bringing immigration under the rule of law, enabling our law enforcement agencies to focus on terrorists and criminals rather than workers and families; encouraging legality at our borders; and strengthening our intelligence capacity and ability to verify the validity of documents and determine individuals' identity.
LEGALIZING HARD-WORKING PEOPLE
Today, an estimated eight million people live in the United States without legal immigration status. Even while they work hard, pay taxes, and contribute in many ways to this country, these immigrants live in constant fear of deportation and are vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers.
Why we need this legislation
Legalizing undocumented workers is good for America. Hard-working immigrants have enriched our nation and improved the quality of our lives. Labor Department projections show that our need for foreign labor will only increase in the coming years. We need these workers to remain in the U.S. so that they can continue contributing to the growth of our economy and our tax base, and the solvency of our social security system.
In addition to a strong work ethic, immigrants have strong family values and a strong love of freedom and commitment to democracy. Their character enriches America beyond just the value of their labor. They have settled in many parts of the United States, established deep roots in our communities and made lasting contributions to the diversity of our nation.
Legalizing undocumented workers is good for labor and business. Legalizing hard-working immigrants will provide employers with a more stable workforce, improve the wages and working conditions of all workers, and curtail an underground labor market susceptible to smuggling, fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity.
Legalizing undocumented workers enhances our national security. A legalization program will allow hard-working, law-abiding individuals to come out of the shadows to be screened by the government. It will also make our communities safer because, when immigrants' deportation fears are assuaged, they are more likely to report crimes and suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
What this legislation would accomplish:
This bill would create a fair and uniform legalization program. Long-time, hard-working residents would be provided with an opportunity to become permanent members of our community. It would create a fair, uniform set of procedures to legalize qualified immigrants.
This bill would create an earned legalization program. Immigrants eligible for legal permanent residency must be long-time residents who are persons of good moral character, present no criminal or national security problems, and are eligible to become U.S. citizens. Permanent residence would be earned by those who can demonstrate that they have taken English and civics classes, undergone security and criminal background checks, paid taxes and contributed positively to their communities.
REUNITING FAMILIES ON A HUMANE AND TIMELY BASIS
Unconscionable backlogs in family immigration keep families separated for years on end. Such separation creates not only unnecessary suffering and great instability in the family, but also the conditions for illegal immigration, as families seek to be reunited after years of separation. These backlogs directly result from an outdated legal immigration system that does not reflect the fact that our nation values families. The current visa allocation system, last revised by Congress in 1990, established inflexible statutory ceilings for family-sponsored immigrant visas that must now be changed.
Why we need this legislation:
Immediate family members are separated for long periods of time. Under current law, a U.S. citizen mother petitioning for her unmarried son or daughter must wait an average of 3½ years. (For Mexicans, family members must wait 10 years to be reunited, and Filipinos must wait 14 years.) A legal permanent resident must wait five years to be united with his spouse and minor children. Unfortunately, the wait is several years longer for people from countries with strong and historic ties to the United States, like Mexico or the Philippines.
There is an increasing demand for family visas. The annual levels of family-sponsored immigration are established by statute, with no mechanism to adjust these levels based on need. The visa backlog seriously undermines our most cherished values of family unity and fundamental fairness, and hampers the successes of immigrant families.
What this legislation would accomplish:
This bill would address the current backlog. We must develop an immigrant visa system that will reunite families in a timely and humane manner. We can do this in several ways including: broadening the definition of Immediate Relatives to include spouses and children of permanent residents; and stopping the subtraction of Immediate Relatives from the annual cap on family immigration. Such a subtraction artificially depresses the number of available family preference visas.
This bill would address other obstacles that separate families for many years, and in some cases, split them apart permanently. These obstacles include: visa numbers that are lost due to processing delays that need to be recaptured; stringent income requirements that penalize hardworking, low-income immigrant families; and current barrier to reentry that are triggered by prior attempts at family reunification. We must remove these obstacles so that close family members can be reunited with each other.
REGULARIZING THE FLOW OF IMMIGRATION:
REFORMING THE TEMPORARY WORKER SYSTEM
Many immigrants, who come to the U.S. to fill voids in our workforce, risk danger and even death to cross our borders. Too many hardworking immigrants who journey to the U.S. are subject to abuse, and too many decent employers in the United States are undercut by unscrupulous competitors who exploit unauthorized workers.
Why we need this legislation:
The status quo is unacceptable. The status quo must be replaced with sound immigration policies that provide a manageable and orderly system of migration. We need immigration policies that not only reflect current economic realities, but also adhere to our tradition as a nation of immigrants.
Our current system has made illegality the norm. Our current "hard" border has spurred the growth of a black market that profits from undocumented workers, as migrants increasingly have come to rely on professional smugglers to find their way past border guards. Once they arrive in this country, many are trapped here, unable to return. We need a program that would significantly diminish future illegal immigration by providing people with a legal avenue to enter the U.S, and return, as many wish, to their home countries, communities and families.
We need effectively focus our national security efforts. We currently spend precious resources targeting people who seek to meet our labor market needs, rather than those who mean to do us harm. By channeling immigrant workers through the legal visa system, we free up resources at our border and elsewhere to focus on measures that enhance our national security.
What this legislation would accomplish:
The bill would create a fair temporary worker program. Past temporary worker programs were fraught with abuses and exploitation, and did not provide full labor protections, labor mobility, the right to organize, and a path to permanent residence. This bill includes a worker program that provides legal visas, family unity, full labor rights, labor mobility, and a path to permanent status.
This bill would address employers' need for temporary workers without displacing U.S. workers. These "essential workers" would fill unmet needs in hotels, construction, restaurants and other sectors that rely heavily on unskilled and semi-skilled labor for temporary or seasonal positions. Employers seeking these temporary workers must show that they can't find U.S. workers to fill the jobs, and that hiring these temporary workers will not displace U.S. workers or affect their pay or working conditions.
The bill would provide temporary workers full labor protections. Under this legislation, temporary workers would be afforded all of the labor protections U.S. workers have, including the right to organize, the right to change jobs freely - not only between employers, but across economic sectors - and the fully enforced legal protection of their wages, hours, and working conditions. This bill would protect workers who pursue legal redresses against unscrupulous employers who violate labor protection laws.
This bill would provide temporary workers with the opportunity to obtain permanent legal status. Many foreign workers prefer to work in the U.S. for a period of time and then return to their home countries. But others who choose to make the U.S. their permanent home should have the opportunity to do so. Temporary workers must be provided the opportunity to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, should they so desire.
STRENGTHENING WORKER PROTECTIONS:
SAFEGUARDING EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS
Undocumented immigrants are extremely vulnerable, as they have few labor protections, and are often afraid to come forward to assert their rights. It is difficult for them to join a union, object to illegal wages and unsafe working conditions, or receive compensation for work-related injuries. Unscrupulous employers often use workers' immigration status against them. For example, such an employer will contact immigration officials when an undocumented worker files a labor violation complaint, so the undocumented worker will be deported before having a chance to testify. This tactic enables such employers to continue their illegal practices. Workers who attempt to assert their rights are punished or intimidated. This practice is bad for law-bidding employers and all workers, regardless of legal status.
Why we need this legislation:
Current law prevents exploited workers from asserting their rights. Because labor laws provide inadequate protections for undocumented workers, those who might come forward to file complaints against employers or otherwise exercise their rights are often threatened with deportation. These workers become afraid to seek redress.
Exploitation of any workers is bad for all workers. Our worker protection laws depend on all workers being able to come forward when there is a violation. However, workers are less likely to assert their rights if they think they can be fired for doing so, with no recourse in the courts. All workers suffer when one sector of workers accepts low wages and poor working conditions and is afraid to report safety hazards, labor law violations, or to participate in unions.
Allowing "bad apple" employers to escape punishment is bad for law-abiding employers. Law-abiding employers face unfair competition from employers who hire and exploit undocumented workers. Undocumented workers often work at the lowest-paying and most dangerous jobs in our economy. Some U.S. employers seek out undocumented immigrant workers because they will be less likely to complain.
The Hoffman Plastic Supreme Court decision further undermines workers' rights. In 2002 the Supreme Court decided that undocumented workers were not entitled to back pay, even when they prevailed in legal challenges against employers violating labor laws. By denying a remedy to one group of workers, the Hoffman decision undermines the status of all workers The Hoffman decision allows unscrupulous employers act illegally without consequences. It also harms law-abiding employers who must compete with employers who take advantage of undocumented labor.
What this legislation would accomplish:
This bill would enhance worker protections and ensure employer accountability. By preventing any government agency from using information on immigration status acquired during labor-related investigations, employees, regardless of their immigration status, will not be intimidated into silence. Increased civil penalties, especially for "bad actor" employers who have committed more than one violation, will provide a greater deterrent to employers tempted to break the law for economic gain.
This bill would allow full prosecution of employers committing unfair immigration-related practices. By providing stays of removal for undocumented workers legitimately involved in unfair immigration-related employment practice proceedings, the government will not loose key prosecution witnesses. Additionally, employers will know that they cannot commit these violations and avoid retribution.
This bill would repeal the Hoffman decision. An employer must not be allowed to violate labor laws and compete unfairly simply because an employee is undocumented.
ENHANCING NATIONAL SECURITY:
COMPREHENSIVELY REFORMING OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS
Our immigration system is broken. Current laws provide no visa category for many needed workers to enter the U.S. legally and no clear path for undocumented workers to legalize their status. This dysfunctional system requires our government to expend valuable resources to identify, detain, and remove these workers, leaving few resources to pursue real national security threats and criminals. Obviously, this situation is untenable. Yet it is unrealistic to think we can deport the eight to ten million immigrants and their families residing here without legal status, or stop the flow of undocumented people crossing our borders to work. We can make immigration legal, safe, and orderly -- and improve national security -- if we place undocumented immigrants on a path to legalization and create new rules for future immigration that make sense.
Why we need this legislation:
To bring immigration under the rule of law. Undocumented immigrant workers and their families are our neighbors, our co-workers, our children's nannies and our parents' caretakers. For too long, our immigration laws have been at odds with economic realities, leading to an increased reliance on smugglers and fake documents. Creating a path to legal status for these valued workers would allow them to come forward, undergo security screenings, and seek legal status. This legislation will allow us to know who is here and who is admitted in the future, and create a realistic and orderly immigration system that can be meaningfully enforced.
To make legality the norm and reduce illegal immigration. We need fair and reasonable rules that are realistic and enforceable. We must replace the chaotic, deadly, and illegal flows at our borders with orderly, safe, and legal avenues for immigrant workers and immigrant families. In the absence of legal means to obtain work and unite with family members, law-abiding people will take desperate measures, including breaking the law and risking their lives. We need laws that embrace reality so that legality becomes the norm.
To improve our enforcement capacity. Enforcing a dysfunctional immigration system leads to more dysfunction and diversion from important objectives. Enforcement resources are inevitably overextended dealing with the undocumented population seeking employment. With laws that encourage illegality, our enforcement agencies waste time and resources investigating workers and families instead of tracking terrorists and criminals. Shrinking the pool of law enforcement targets will enable our officers to train their sights on those who mean to do us harm.
What this legislation would accomplish:
This bill would reduce crime and strengthen measures that enhance our intelligence capacity. By mandating the issuance of machine-readable, tamper-resistant documents with biometric identifiers, this bill would stem the tide of black-market documents and help eliminate a potential avenue for criminals and terrorists to gain entry to our country. Our intelligence capacities would be enhanced by mandating rigorous name-check clearances and extensive background checks.
This bill would enable our law enforcement agencies to focus on terrorists and criminals. By bringing undocumented workers and their families out of the shadows and requiring them to pass thorough security checks, we will dramatically reduce the pool of enforcement targets. Our investigative resources would be more effectively focused on terrorists and criminals.
This bill would encourage legality at our borders. By providing individuals with a legal mechanism to enter the country to work and reunite with family members, we encourage a legal, orderly admissions process. This limits the dangers confronting both immigrants and border patrol agents, and curtails the use of increasingly violent "coyotes" or human smugglers.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

Reforma integral de la inmigración: Importante propuesta legislativa será introducida, AILA

LA CUESTIÓN: La mayoría coinciden en que nuestro actual sistema de inmigración no funciona y necesita desesperadamente una reforma; que un sistema efectivo es esencial para nuestra seguridad nacional de manera que sepamos quién está en nuestro país y podamos mantener fuera a los que pretenden hacernos daño; y que necesitamos la reforma ahora. El acuerdo llega hasta ahí, sin embargo, y los opuestos a la inmigración continúan defendiendo la aplicación de nuestro sistema gravemente disfuncional. ¿Cuáles son los síntomas de este sistema disfuncional? Familias de ciudadanos y residentes legales permanentes en Estados Unidos separadas durante muchos años; negocios que no pueden traer a los trabajadores que necesitan; y un estatus quo que no cubre nuestras necesidades de seguridad.

Necesitamos una reforma integral que aporte seguridad, orden y legalidad a la inmigración. Dicha reforma incluiría: un ajuste merecido para las personas que viven aquí, trabajan y contribuyen a la economía de Estados Unidos; un programa de visas que “rompa moldes” y permita a los trabajadores esenciales entrar en Estados Unidos de manera segura, legal y rápida sin desplazar a trabajadores estadounidenses; y reducciones de los retrasos en la inmigración relacionada con la familia. Las propuestas que no adoptan estos tres componentes y buscan sólo aumentar la aplicación del actual sistema inviable sólo perpetuarán y exacerbarán los problemas actuales.

ANTECEDENTES: Varias medidas fueron introducidas en el 108º Congreso y el Presidente Bush anunció, en enero de 2004, la propuesta de reforma de la inmigración de su gobierno. El Presidente también anunció, en enero de 2005, su intención de aprobar la reforma de la inmigración durante el 109º Congreso. Varias de las medidas introducidas en el último período de sesiones del Congreso incluyeron:

Proyecto de ley demócrata de reforma integral de la inmigración: El 4 de mayo de 2004, el Senador Edward Kennedy (D-MA), los representantes Robert Menéndez (D-NJ) y Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), y otros introdujeron un proyecto de ley de reforma integral de la inmigración denominado Proyecto de Ley de Visas Legales y Aplicación de la Ley Seguras y Ordenadas (Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement (SOLVE) Act) de 2004. Este proyecto de ley incluye medidas necesarias para la reforma: un ajuste merecido para las personas elegibles que ya viven y trabajan en Estados Unidos, reunificación familiar mediante la reducción de los retrasos y un nuevo programa para trabajadores temporales que rompa moldes. El proyecto de ley habría mejorado nuestra seguridad al: hacer que la inmigración sea compatible con el Estado de Derecho y permitir que nuestras agencias encargadas de hacer cumplir la ley se concentren en los terroristas y los criminales en lugar de en los trabajadores y las familias. La medida también habría fomentado la legalidad en nuestras fronteras y fortalecido nuestra capacidad de inteligencia y nuestra habilidad para verificar documentos y comprobar identidades.

El Proyecto de Ley SOLVE dissponía un ajuste merecido para los inmigrantes que residieran en Estados Unidos cinco o más años desde la entrada en vigor de la ley y pudieran demostrar que han acumulado 24 meses de empleo (lo que incluye el autoempleo) en Estados Unidos y han pagado impuestos. También habrían sido elegibles el cónyuge y los hijos solteros menores de 21 años del solicitante principal. Estas solicitudes se habrían adjudicado fuera de los límites numéricos sobre las visas de inmigrantes, y se habrían anulado las razones para la no admisión relacionadas con la situación de inmigrante indocumentado. Los solicitantes se habrían sometido a controles de antecedentes penales y chequeos médicos, se habrían registrado en los Servicios Selectivos y habrían tenido que demostrar conocimientos de inglés y educación cívica, o que estaban cursando estudios para adquirir dichos conocimientos. Los solicitantes habrían podido viajar y trabajar con permiso mientras estuviera pendiente su petición. El proyecto de ley también habría dispuesto la revisión administrativa y judicial de las peticiones denegadas. Los solicitantes que hubieran llevado menos de cinco años residiendo en Estados Unidos tendrían derecho, después de un control de antecedentes, a un estado transitorio de tres años de duración, durante el cual podrían trabajar con permiso y viajar al extranjero. Una vez que hubieran acumulado 24 meses de trabajo, habrían tenido derecho a regularizar su situación.

El Proyecto de Ley SOLVE abordaba la necesidad de reducir el retraso en la inmigración basada en la familia, entre otras medidas: eximiendo a los familiares más cercanos del máximo de 480.000 visas por vínculos familiares e incluyendo a los cónyuges e hijos de los residentes permanentes en esta categoría; respondiendo a las desigualdades derivadas de los máximos de visas por país mediante la asignación, fuera de los máximos por país o mundiales, para los inmigrantes que llevan más de cinco años esperando; recuperando las visas por vínculos familiares no utilizadas en cualquier año y sumándolas a las de años futuros son límites numéricos por país o mundiales; reduciendo la prueba de ingresos para la declaración de apoyo del 125 por ciento al 100 por ciento del nivel de pobreza; y anulando las prohibiciones temporales sobre el reingreso en el país.

El Proyecto de Ley SOLVE asumía la necesidad de legalizar los futuros flujos de inmigrantes mediante la reforma del actual programa de H-2B y la creación de un nuevo programa de H-1D. Ambos programas estaban dirigidos a los trabajadores con bajas cualificaciones o semicualificados y excluían a los trabajadores que pudieran obtener otras visas. Los trabajadores con H-1D hubieran dispuesto de 250.000 visas con incrementos bianuales, renovables durante dos períodos adicionales (seis años en total). Los trabajadores con H-2B hubieran dispuesto de 100.000 visas con incrementos cada nueve meses, renovables hasta 40 meses. Estos programas no habrían expirado. Los familiares más cercanos habrían podido acompañar a los trabajadores con H-2B y H-1D, pero sólo habrían tenido derecho a trabajar si ellos mismos hubieran cualificado para una visa H-2B, H-1D o de otro tipo. Además, habrían tenido derecho a cambiar a otro trabajo con H-2B o H-1D después de tres meses. Es importante destacar que estos programas incluían una vía para la residencia permanente. Un empleador habría podido solicitar la residencia permanente para un trabajador en cuanto se inicie el empleo o un trabajador habría podido presentar su propia solicitud después de dos años de empleo. Las visas para inmigrantes incluidas en este programa no se habrían descontado de los máximos numéricos.

Estos programas para trabajadores también incluían un proceso reforzado de atestiguación mediante el que los posibles empleadores habrían tenido que atestiguar que no había trabajadores estadounidenses disponibles, y que el empleo de trabajadores extranjeros no habría afectado adversamente a los salarios y las condiciones laborales de los trabajadores estadounidenses. Los trabajadores extranjeros sólo habrían podido responder a una oferta de trabajo de un empleador que hubiera cumplido sus obligaciones con el Departamento de Trabajo (DOL). El DOL también habría tenido autoridad para implementar los términos del programa mediante inspecciones y auditorias (así como denuncias). Los trabajadores con H-2B y H-1D habrían podido ejercer su derecho a emprender acciones judiciales contra los empleadores que incumplieran las disposiciones y los requisitos del programa. Además, los empleadores de H-2B y H-1D habrían tenido que pagar el salario imperante, de acuerdo con el acuerdo de negociación colectiva de la empresa o, en su ausencia, conforme a las Leyes de Servicio Davis Bacon y McNamara-O’Hara. Si el empleo no estuviera cubierto por estas determinaciones del salario imperante, éste habría sido la media del 66% por ciento más elevado de los datos salariales suministrados por la Encuesta sobre Empleo Ocupacional de la Oficina de Estadísticas Laborales (Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Survey) del DOL.

Este proyecto de ley también incluía una respuesta al fallo de la Corte Suprema en el caso Hoffman Plastics sobre pagos atrasados, compensación laboral y asuntos relacionados. Finalmente, el proyecto de ley incluía un estudio de los programas de H-2B y H-1D que habría examinado, entre otros asuntos, la evaluación apropiada del mercado laboral para proteger a los trabajadores estadounidenses, la formula apropiada para el cálculo de salarios y la repercusión positiva y negativa de los programas. El estudio también habría reevaluado el programa y presentaría recomendaciones al Congreso.

Proyecto de ley respaldado por ambos partidos en el Senado: S. 2010, el Proyecto de Ley de Reforma de la Inmigración de 2004, introducido en enero de 2004 por los senadores Chuck Hagel (R-NE) y Tom Daschle (D-SD), también incluye los componentes necesarios para la reforma integral de la inmigración. Este proyecto de ley compartió un marco similar y muchas disposiciones del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE. S. 2010 fue importante porque se trataba del primer proyecto de ley de reforma integral respaldado por ambos partidos, y dicho respaldo es esencial para que una medida sea aprobada por el Congreso. Aunque AILA estaba preocupada por algunas de sus disposiciones, el Proyecto de Ley de Reforma de la Inmigración articulaba el objetivo de crear un sistema de inmigración compatible con nuestros valores, nuestras tradiciones y nuestras necesidades.

El Proyecto de Ley de Reforma de la Inmigración incluía algunas, pero no todas, las disposiciones del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE. Con respecto a la reunificación familiar, el proyecto de ley incluía lo siguiente: los familiares más cercanos ya no se sustraen del máximo de 480.000 personas autorizadas, los cónyuges e hijos menores de edad de residentes legales permanentes fueron reclasificados como familiares más cercanos, se abordan ciertas razones para la admisibilidad y la elegibilidad derivada se expande a todos los familiares más cercanos.

El Proyecto de Ley de Reforma de la Inmigración de 2004 también incluía un programa para “trabajadores dispuestos” (Willing Worker) que reformaba el actual programa de H-2B y crea un nuevo programa de H-2C (similar al programa de H-1D del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE). Esta propuesta legislativa era similar al Proyecto de Ley SOLVE en tanto en cuanto que limitaba el programa de H2-B a 100.000 visas. Sin embargo, este número se habría reducido a 66.000 después de cinco años. La admisión de titulares de visas H-2B se limitaba a nueve meses en cualquier período de 12 meses (con un máximo de 36 meses en cualquier período de 48 meses, frente a los 40 meses del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE). El nuevo programa de H-2C era un programa de dos años renovable durante dos años más, en contraste con el programa de H-1D del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE, renovable durante dos períodos adicionales de dos años. El programa tenía un máximo de 250.000 visas anuales. A diferencia del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE, este programa habría expirado a los cinco años de la emisión de las regulaciones. S. 2010 requería una atestiguación para ambas visas y los empleadores tendrán que cumplir ciertos requisitos relativos a la búsqueda de trabajadores estadounidenses. Se permitía la intención doble con respecto a las visas y el estado derivado está disponible en ambos casos.

S. 2010 incluía un régimen de aplicación diferente al del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE. Las protecciones dispuestas por el proyecto de ley para los trabajadores incluían un mecanismo de denuncia por el que el DOL y el Departamento de Asesoría Especial en materia de Prácticas de Empleo Ilegales relacionadas con Inmigrantes (Office of Special Counsel for Inmigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, OSC) del Departamento de Justicia habría investigado las denuncias y ofrecido mediación y, en ciertos casos, conocerán los casos y las apelaciones. Los grupos empresariales y los sindicatos habrían podido solicitar a estos trabajadores. El proyecto de ley también creaba una comisión para revisar el impacto del programa e informar de las determinaciones salariales. Los pagos por las peticiones y las solicitudes estaban en una escala variable que dependía del número de trabajadores solicitados por el empleador.

Al igual que el Proyecto de Ley SOLVE, S. 2010 incluía un ajuste merecido para aquellos que cumplan varios requisitos como: presencia física en el país durante cinco años antes de la introducción de la propuesta legislativa y cumplimiento de un requisito de empleo anterior. A diferencia del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE, S. 2010 también incluía un requisito de futuro empleo (como máximo un año después de la entrada en vigor de la ley). S. 2010 también obligaba al pago de impuestos sobre la renta o acuerdo con el departamento de hacienda (Internal Revenue Service, IRS) para el pago de todas las deudas pendientes, y el pago de una tasa de 1.000 dólares (frente a los 500 del Proyecto de Ley SOLVE). Entre otras disposiciones de este ajuste merecido se encontraban: los cónyuges y los hijos menores de edad tenían derecho a regularizar su situación junto con el solicitante principal; se incluían garantías administrativas y de revisión judicial, además de ciertas excepciones al igual que ciertas excepciones y razones para la admisibilidad, en reconocimiento de los problemas generados por leyes anteriores; y, para fomentar la participación de los empleadores, éstos no tenían una obligación tributaria sujeta a acciones judiciales civiles o penales por el empleo de estas personas. Los trabajadores que cumplieran el requisito de la presencia en el país, pero nos las exigencias laborales, podrían acogerse a una situación transitoria durante tres años con autorización para el empleo y permiso para viajar, y habrían tenido derecho a solicitar la residencia permanente.

Otras propuestas legislativas: Los proyectos de ley introducidos por los representantes Flake (R-AZ) y Kolbe (R-AZ) y el Senador McCain (R-AZ) (H.R. 2899/S.1461) y el Senador Cornyn (R-TX) (S. 1387) también representaron importantes avances para lograr la reforma. Es muy significativo que senadores de estados fronterizos reconocieran la necesidad de algún tipo de ajuste merecido para las personas elegibles que viven en Estados Unidos así como de un programa para trabajadores. También es significativo que estos senadores reconocieran, como explicó claramente el senador McCain, que nuestro país no pueda lograr la seguridad en sus fronteras sin una reforma de nuestras leyes de inmigración. Sin embargo, en sus iniciativas faltaban disposiciones que habrían reducido los retrasos en la inmigración basada en la familia. Se espera que las futuras versiones de estas medidas incluyan dichas disposiciones.

S. 1461/H.R. 2899 habría permitido que los inmigrantes indocumentados que viven y trabajan en Estados Unidos se conviertan en trabajadores temporales legales, permitiéndoles cambiar de empleo y ofreciéndoles una opción para obtener la residencia legal permanente a través de una petición patrocinada por un empleador o individual. Sin embargo, estas medidas parecían englobar a los que entrarían dentro de los actuales programas de H-2A, H-2B y H-1B (sin cancelar estos programas). (AILA creía que se debería haber tratado por separado a los trabajadores agrícolas y los profesionales extranjeros.)

En concreto, S. 1461/H.R. 2899 habría creado dos nuevas categorías de visas para trabajadores: las categorías de trabajadores temporales H-4A y H-4B. Los trabajadores con H-4A habrían sido admitidos inicialmente durante un período de tres años, renovable por otros tres años. Los empleadores habrían tenido que intentar contratar a trabajadores estadounidenses antes de presentar una petición para un trabajador con H-4A y volver a anunciar el empleo antes de presentar una petición de extensión. Los trabajadores con H-4A podrían cambiar de empleo y tienen derecho a solicitar la residencia permanente. Los familiares más cercanos de trabajadores con H-4A no podrían acompañarles a no ser que también tuvieran una visa H-4A. La propuesta legislativa también creaba un registro electrónico de empleo para satisfacer los requisitos de contratación y anunciar los puestos a trabajadores extranjeros, así como un sistema de confirmación de la elegibilidad para el empleo que habría confirmado la identidad y el permiso de trabajo de una persona. Tanto el registro de empleo como el sistema de confirmación de la elegibilidad eran iniciativas ambiciosas que planteaban muchas preocupaciones porque nuestro gobierno todavía tiene que crear una base de datos que funcione adecuadamente. Además, la propuesta legislativa no dejaba claro el funcionamiento del registro—específicamente, cómo los trabajadores estadounidenses y extranjeros habrían tenido acceso a él y por lo tanto cómo iban a casar trabajadores dispuestos con empleadores.
S. 1461/H.R. 2899 también habría ofrecido la oportunidad de que las personas indocumentadas soliciten la visa temporal H-4B. Dichas personas tendrán que haber entrado a Estados Unidos antes del 1 de agosto de 2003, y residido de manera irregular en el país desde esa fecha hasta la petición de la visa H-4B. Estas personas también tienen que haber estado empleados desde esa fecha ya hasta la fecha de solicitud, o ser cónyuges o hijos de un trabajador con H-4B. Para solicitar la residencia permanente, habrían tenido que mantener la validez de su visa H-4B durante tres años y pedido entonces un cambio a una visa H-4A. Cuando obtengan la visa H-4A, habrían podido solicitar la residencia permanente mediante el patrocinio de un empleador o de manera individual. Teniendo en cuenta los requisitos de esta sección, a un trabajador con H-4B le llevaría entre tres (improbable) y nueve años obtener la residencia permanente.

El proyecto de ley del Senador Cornyn (S. 1387) crearía un programa de trabajadores invitados con cualquier país que adopte un acuerdo con Estados Unidos. Los trabajadores participantes en el programa habrían podido obtener una visa “W” y cubierto empleos vacantes en Estados Unidos. El programa habrían englobado el empleo de temporada y general, sin limitaciones sobre el tipo de empleo para el que se habrían podido utilizar las visas W. Los trabajadores de temporada invitados habrían tenido un límite de estancia de 270 días por año, y el resto de 12 meses—con la posibilidad de dos extensiones de un año. Se habría exigido a los trabajadores que regresen durante seis meses a sus países de origen antes de volver a solicitar la visa. Los no inmigrantes con visa W que hubieran participado en el programa durante tres años seguidos habrían tenido derecho a solicitar la residencia legal permanente desde sus países de origen. Se establecería la prioridad en función de un sistema de puntos, que tendría en cuenta factores tales como si el trabajador había sido patrocinado, había recibido ascensos y aumentos salariales, pagado impuestos, dominaba el inglés, tenía formación académica y se había abstenido de cometer actos ilícitos. AILA no respaldaba las disposiciones de S. 1387 que no limitaban los tipos de empleo cubiertos por las visas W. Creemos que este proyecto de ley no debería haber cubierto a los trabajadores agrícolas ni los profesionales extranjeros. Además, los requisitos de S. 1387 que ordenan que los trabajadores con visas W regresen a sus países de origen para solicitar la residencia permanente mediante un sistema de puntos habrían afectado a la fuerza laboral y, al infundir un grado considerable de incertidumbre, habrían limitado por lo tanto la participación de posibles trabajadores.

El apoyo del Presidente Bush a la reforma: El 7 de enero de 2004, el gobierno de Bush desveló su propuesta sobre inmigración que reflejaba la opinión del Presidente sobre las importantes contribuciones que los inmigrantes han hecho a nuestro país. Sin embargo, el gobierno no ha proseguido con la iniciativa, ni con debates sobre las propuestas ni buscando su introducción en el Congreso. La propuesta de reforma del gobierno consiste esencialmente en un programa de trabajadores temporales sin límite de admisiones para “aparear a los trabajadores extranjeros dispuestos con los empleadores estadounidenses dispuestos cuando no se pueda encontrar ningún estadounidense para llenar las vacantes”. El programa habría concedido el estado legal temporal a los participantes y permitido que los que trabajen se queden en Estados Unidos durante un plazo de tres años, renovable por un período sin especificar. Inicialmente, el programa habría estado abierto tanto a las personas indocumentadas como a los trabajadores extranjeros que viven fuera del país (y se restringirá a los que viven en el extranjero en una fecha futura sin determinar). Los empleadores estadounidenses habrían tenido que hacer esfuerzos razonables por encontrar a trabajadores de Estados Unidos. De acuerdo con esta propuesta, los participantes habrían podido ir y volver de sus países de origen y “disfrutar de las mismas condiciones laborales que la ley requiere para los trabajadores estadounidenses”. La propuesta también incluía incentivos para que estas personas regresen a sus países de origen y defendía un aumento de la vigilancia en los lugares de trabajo y un incremento sin especificar de la inmigración legal.

Aunque se conocen éstas y otras disposiciones generales del plan, otras disposiciones de la propuesta generaron dudas sobre el acceso a la residencia legal permanente. Otras preocupaciones estaban relacionadas con la posibilidad de que el programa hubiera abordado adecuadamente otros asuntos importantes tales como los largos retrasos en la inmigración ilegal. La propuesta tampoco se pronunció sobre la necesidad acuciante de reducir los retrasos en la inmigración basada en la familia.

SITUACIÓN ACTUAL: A mediados de enero de 2005, el Presidente Bush volvió a pedir la reforma de la inmigración, señalando su intención de dedicar capital político este año a forzar el debate en el Congreso porque “tenemos un problema en Estados Unidos”, y nuestra situación actual es una “pesadilla burocrática” que tiene que resolverse. Siguió señalando que: “Tenemos a gente viviendo en la sombra de nuestra sociedad, y tenemos una patrulla fronteriza demasiado estresada porque tenemos a gente fluyendo a través de la frontera. El sistema se ha roto. Y creo que legalizando a trabajadores, aliviamos mucho la presión en nuestras fronteras”.

Se espera la introducción de medidas para la reforma integral de la inmigración respaldadas por ambos partidos tanto en la Cámara como en el Senado. Es importante que tanto el Comité Judicial como el Subcomité de Inmigración del Senado tenga a nuevos líderes: el Senador Arlen Specter (R-PA) es el nuevo presidente del Comité Judicial del Senado y el Senador John Cornyn (R-TX) es el nuevo presidente del Subcomité.

LA POSICIÓN DE AILA: Nuestro sistema de inmigración tiene que funcionar para el país. El Congreso tiene que ocuparse de esta cuestión porque la situación actual es inaceptable. AILA apoya una reforma que refleje lo siguiente:

1. La reforma de la inmigración tiene que ser integral: Dado que muchos de los problemas del actual sistema de inmigración de Estados Unidos están interrelacionados, la reforma tiene que ser integral para lograr abordar las necesidades y las realidades de nuestro país. Dicha reforma es necesaria, especialmente en el ambiente posterior al 11 de Septiembre donde la mejora de la seguridad es fundamental, y tenemos que compatibilizar nuestra seguridad con el flujo continuo de personas y mercancías. Nuestro sistema actual se caracteriza por familias separadas durante largos períodos y por empresarios estadounidenses incapaces de traer a los trabajadores necesarios. Algunas personas se ven obligadas a vivir en la clandestinidad, ocultándose del gobierno por miedo a que los separen de sus familias o a perder sus empleos. El actual sistema de vigilancia no previene la inmigración ilegal, y valiosos recursos que deberían dedicarse a la mejora de nuestra seguridad se desperdician en impedir que esforzados trabajadores ocupen los empleos vacantes en Estados Unidos. Nuestro sistema de inmigración necesita una reforma para que la legalidad sea la norma y la inmigración sea legal, segura, ordenada y compatible con las necesidades de las familias, los negocios y la seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos.

2. La reforma de la inmigración es un componente importante de la mejora de nuestra seguridad nacional: Una reforma de la inmigración que legalice a las personas trabajadoras que ya están en el país y cree un nuevo programa para trabajadores ayudará a que el gobierno de Estados Unidos concentre sus recursos en la mejora de la seguridad, no en la detención de estas personas que cubren los empleos vacantes en el mercado laboral estadounidense o intentan reunirse con sus familiares más cercanos. Además, abordar la situación de los que se encuentran en Estados Unidos fomentaría que las personas salgan de la clandestinidad y se sometan al examen de nuestro gobierno. Un nuevo programa de visas creará un flujo legal mediante el cual los trabajadores podrán entrar y salir de Estados Unidos. La legalidad resultante de estas iniciativas contribuirá a nuestra seguridad nacional al ayudar a concentrar los recursos en aquellos que pretenden causarnos daño. Dicha legalidad también facilitará las iniciativas de vigilancia, al permitir que nuestro gobierno concentre sus recursos. La aplicación de un sistema disfuncional sólo ha conllevado mayor disfunción, no una mejora de la aplicación de la ley.

3. La reforma de la inmigración tiene que incluir un programa de ajuste merecido para las personas elegibles que se encuentren en Estados Unidos sin autorización: Las personas que trabajan duro, pagan impuestos y contribuyen al país deberían poder obtener la residencia permanente. Esta reforma estabilizaría la mano de obra de los empresarios estadounidenses, fomentaría que las personas salgan de la clandestinidad para someterse al examen de nuestro gobierno, y permitiría que los inmigrantes trabajen y viajen legalmente y reciban un trato igualitario. Muchos de ellos llevan años aquí, pagan impuestos, tienen familias (que normalmente incluyen a cónyuges y niños ciudadanos o residentes permanentes legales), contribuyen a sus comunidades y son esenciales para las industrias en las que trabajan. Para poder unir a las familias y mantenerlas juntas, los inmigrantes deben disponer de exenciones apropiadas dentro de las razones para la admisión y la deportación.

4. La reforma de la inmigración tiene que incluir un nuevo programa de visas para trabajadores temporales: Las leyes actuales de inmigración no responden a las necesidades de nuestra economía ni la necesidad de un programa que aborde los flujos futuros, para que la inmigración sea segura, legal y ordenada. Un nuevo programa de autorización temporal ofrecerá a los trabajadores la oportunidad de trabajar cuando los necesiten y la mano de obra necesaria para seguir siendo competitivos a los empleadores. Dicho programa facilitará las visas legales, la unidad familiar, el pleno disfrute de los derechos laborales, la movilidad laboral y una vía para obtener la residencia permanente y la ciudadanía con el tiempo, sin desplazar a trabajadores estadounidenses. Disminuirá significativamente la inmigración ilegal en el futuro ofreciendo a los trabajadores una vía legal para entrar en Estados Unidos y regresar, como muchos desean, a sus países, comunidades y familias de origen.

5. La reforma de la inmigración tiene que abrir vías legales para la inmigración basada en la familia o los negocios: Nuestro sistema de inmigración se ha caracterizado por largos retrasos en la inmigración basada en la familia y los negocios. La inmigración ilegal es un síntoma de un sistema que no reunifica a las familias ni tiene en cuenta las condiciones económicas en Estados Unidos y el extranjero. Para garantizar un proceso ordenado en el futuro, nuestro sistema tiene que reducir los obstáculos burocráticos y las restricciones indebidas de la inmigración legal permanente. El desarrollo de un mayor flujo de inmigrantes legales aumentará el orden y la legalidad de la inmigración, permitiendo que más personas se reúnan con sus familias y trabajen legalmente en Estados Unidos, y facilitando que las leyes, las políticas y los trámites migratorios sean justos, igualitarios y eficientes. Es esencial legalizar una futura inmigración que, de otro modo, se produciría igualmente de manera ilegal.

6. Las iniciativas para la reforma de la inmigración tienen que contar con fondos adecuados: Para lograr su objetivo, la reforma de la inmigración tiene que contar con fondos adecuados. El Congreso aprueba con frecuencia nuevas leyes de inmigración sin asignar los debidos fondos y con mecanismos complicados y conflictivos, que han contribuido a largos retrasos y servicios inefectivos, ineficientes e injustos. Las reformas tienen que ir acompañadas de mandatos claros y fondos adecuados en forma de asignaciones directas del Congreso.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2005

Speak out and against the anti-immigrant conference “Hold their Feet to the Fire”

I just received this e-mail from Cristina Perez Gonzalez regarding an anti-immigrant conference. Please prepare to contact the media to rally against those against immigration;

Hello Everyone!
I just wanted to encourage everyone to speak out and against the anti-immigrant conference “Hold their Feet to the Fire” taking place in Washington DC from April 23-28. Thanks to Judy, I spoke today against this conference and what it stood for and what we could do as a “united” immigrant community in putting forth our “pro-immigrant message” on national radio and a taped a special segment.

Those of us that have connections to the media must use them; particularly if we can say it in another language. The Spanish speaking media needs our expertise and voice.
Thank you, Cristina


Cristina Perez Gonzalez
Attorney at Law
Perez Gonzalez, A Prof. Law Corp.
111 East Broadway, Suite 210
Glendale, CA 91205
Tel: (818)550-8300
Fax: (818)956-1984
www.california-lawfirm.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

Clarification of Information on H-1B Filings for fiscal 2005

The USCIS Service Centers are not currently accepting H-1B petitions for the fiscal 2005 20,000 H-1B numbers where the petitions request only start dates prior to 10/1/05. Any petitions with earlier than 10/1/05 start dates only, which are filed now, before official instructions are out, will be rejected by the Service Centers.

When asked about an approach that some AILA members are using, of requesting a 10/1/05 start date but annotating that an earlier date is desired if and when available, a USCIS HQ official indicated that that approach should NOT result in rejection of the petition. However, it was also indicated that there is no guarantee that that approach will be of any particular assistance in securing one of the fiscal 2005 numbers. USCIS is unwilling to say more on the subject.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)

Austin Peay University recognizes changing time

Clarksville’s Austin Peay University became the first institute of higher education in Tennessee to recognize the change and growth in it’s Hispanic student enrollment with it’s dedication of a Cultural Arts Center for Latino heritage.

Many city leaders including Clarksville Mayor, Don Trotter were present on April 13th as Austin Peay University President , Dr. Sherry Hoppe addressed the audience of approximately 300 who had come to take part in the dedication and celebration of the Latino Cultural Arts Center located on the first floor of the Morgan University Building. Dr. Sherry Hoppe emphasized that it was time for the university to make the necessary adjustments to meet it’s growing diversity on the campus.

Themed “ La Celebracion de Nuestra Cultura” which translates to the celebration of our culture, the attendees enjoyed a Mexican buffet and were entertained by a local youth group directed by Juanita Jones who performed dances native to Mexico and to Latin Caribbean countries.

APSU student Doraida de Leon-Chamorro shared her experiences as a Hispanic student at schools that had no diversity in it’s programs or student body. Also in attendance were Roberto Chavez of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Ed Rufo of the Clarksville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The invited guest speaker for the dedication ,Greg Rodriguez , president of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce touched on several current issues that impact the Hispanic community and the overall general population of Tennessee. The need for access to education, immigration reform and acceptance of diverse cultures, rich in heritage as being crucial for the country to maintain its position as a world leader were among points made by Rodriguez. “Hispanics are now the largest minority in the nation and will soon be the largest minority in the deep south. Its time that the Hispanic community be treated as stakeholders and not as aliens to this land. In three years our buying power will reach one trillion dollars which is a clear example of our impact on the national economy. There is no need to import or buy knowledge from overseas. There is a drastic need to develop this untapped resource.” said Rodriguez

The center was a culmination of the efforts of Dr. Ramon Magrans who was instrumental in founding the university’s Spanish Honor Society and has encouraged many of the Austin Peay State University Hispanic students to be involved in campus activities including the Cultural Arts Center. Dr. Magrans has been at Austin Peay University for 22 years as a professor of Language and Literature. Tina Tarpy, student president of the Pi Nu Spanish Honor Society at the school said that the center will help to educate others on the Hispanic culture and promote diversity on the campus. The center will also serve as a welcome center for new Hispanic students. A place that these students can feel a part of the university.

.Austin Peay University now boasts the largest Hispanic student enrollment in Tennessee at 438 and Clarksville has over 12000 Hispanic residents. By all accounts these figures should grow exponentially in the near future.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

Leadership Middle TN dinner with Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell

Tonight I attended the dinner for LMTN at the Nashville City Club. It is an old styled dinner club on the 20th floor of the SunTrust Bank building. From the windows we could see the changing skyline of Nashville. There are numerous construction projects downtown. The city of Nashville is an example of the growth occuring throughout the South of the U.S. The construction workers in Nashville are a majority Hispanic. This is an example of the continuing need for immigration and visas to allow the economy to grow.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

ALERT: The Senate may vote on REAL ID as soon as this evening

I just received this alert from Judy Golub with AILA. Take action today and "Please call your Senators and use Contact Congress today to oppose REAL ID. If it gets on the bill it will become law because it will be the same as the bill already passed by the House of Representatives.

Underscoring the uncertain environment in the Senate, Senator Isakson (R-GA) has called up REAL ID. While the Senator earlier had filed the REAL ID as an amendment to the supplemental bill, Hill allies had indicated until late last night that he most likely would not move it. However, Senator Isakson appears to now want to seek a vote on the Senate floor for the REAL ID which therefore will get a vote unless he withdraws it. This vote could happen as soon as this evening.
Given this new information, it is more important than ever to contact your Senators to urge them to oppose this ill-conceived bill. Contact them through the Congressional switchboard (202-224-3121) or through Contact Congress (http://capwiz.com/aila2/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7313861 ). If you phone them, please clearly state that you urge your Senator to oppose the REAL ID if it comes to the floor for a vote that would attach it to the supplemental. If they ask you to clarify your opposition, note that the Senate has held no hearings on this radical bill that would:

Prevent people fleeing persecution from obtaining relief;
Make our highways more dangerous and undermine our security;
Impose guilt by association
Restrict judicial review for the first time since the Civil War, barring the court doors to immigrants;
Waive all laws related to construction of fences at our borders, thereby granting unprecedented authority to a federal agency;
Grant authority to bail bondsman that should be given only to agents of our government.
Thanks!"

Judith Golub
Senior Director, Advocacy & Public Affairs
American Immigration Lawyers Association

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:29 AM | Comments (0)

Senate Moves on AgJobs, H-2B & EB-3 Relief; No Action Yet on REAL ID

Tuesday, April 19, was a busy day on Capitol Hill. The Senate voted on several immigration-related amendments to the Iraqi/Tsunami Relief supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 1268). The following is a brief overview of the action:

1. AgJobs: AgJobs was considered under a procedure known as cloture (which means that 60 votes were needed to stop debate on the measure and allow it subsequently to proceed to a substantive vote.) While we fell a bit short-53 yea votes (when we needed 60) to 45 nay votes-we can take comfort in the fact that the competing Chambliss/Kyl agricultural worker amendment, which AILA did not support because it would have gutted major aspects of needed reform in the agricultural sector, only garnered 21 yeas and 77 nays during its cloture vote. Senate supporters of AgJobs view the majority vote of 53 Senators as a "green light" to attach AgJobs to future legislation.

2. H-2B Relief: The Senate passed by an impressive vote of 94-6 the "Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005" (S. 352), introduced by Senators Mikulski (D-MD) and Gregg (R-NH). (The earlier cloture vote on this measure also succeeded by an impressive margin: 83-17). AILA strongly supported this measure that provides short term H-2B relief. This is an important victory and will be helpful as we move on to comprehensive reform.

3. EB-3 Relief: By unanimous consent, the Senate also passed a measure sponsored by Senators Schumer (D-NY), Hutchison (R-TX) and Kennedy (D-MA) that would recapture EB -3 numbers lost from FY 2001-2004 due to processing delays. 50% of these numbers would be allocated to Schedule A occupations.

Both the H-2B relief bill and the EB-3 relief provisions will now be included in the Senate version of the supplemental appropriations bill. However, since neither of these measures was included in the House-passed supplemental, they will be discussed when House and Senate conferees meet to resolve differences between the two bills. In both cases, AILA will urge the House to recede to the Senate on both the H-2B bill and EB-3 relief.

4. REAL ID: A Senate vote on the REAL ID Act did not take place on Tuesday, April 19. While we are unclear if or when this vote will take place, our Hill supporters are nonetheless preparing for a vote. Please continue to contact your Senators to oppose this ill-conceived measure. Call the congressional switchboard on 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senators, and/or send a letter to your Senators using Contact Congress

If the Senate passes the REAL ID Act, it will become law as part of the supplemental appropriations bill since the House already has passed it. If we are able to defeat the REAL ID in the Senate, or if there is not a vote on it, the REAL ID will still be part of conference discussions. We will urge conferees to remove REAL ID from the supplemental bill.

5. Conference: We expect that House and Senate conferees will meet very quickly after the Senate finishes its work on the supplemental bill in the next day or two. The REAL ID Act (if not passed by the Senate), H-2B relief, and EB-3 relief will be subject to conference negotiations. It is thus important to focus attention on Members of both the House and Senate.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Act Today! Senators Set to Vote in 24 Hours on Important Immigration Amendments

Use the next 24 hours to support emergency H-2B relief and AgJobs and oppose the REAL ID! In votes scheduled for Tuesday, April 19, the Senate could decide the fate of several immigration-related amendments to the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill: emergency H-2B relief and AgJobs (which faces a restrictive amendment offered by Senator Chambliss (R-GA)). Due to a special parliamentary procedure known as "cloture," both the H-2B bill and AgJobs will need 60 votes to pass.

Use the next 24 hours to keep the drumbeat going against REAL ID! Although a REAL ID amendment was filed, we do not expect Senate leadership to bring that amendment to a vote. With the fate REAL ID most likely to be decided behind closed doors during the conference which probably will begin directly after the Senate vote, it is important that you continue to contact yours Senators and Representative.

Contact your Senators today and Tuesday! Call your Senators' DC offices via the Congressional switchboard (202) 224-3121 and send e-letters via Contact Congress.

Urge Your Senators to:

Vote for cloture on the Mikulski "Save our Small and Seasonal" H-2B amendment.
Vote for cloture on the Craig-Kennedy AgJobs amendment and oppose any "second-degree" amendments to AgJobs unless they are agreed to by both Senators Craig and Kennedy.
Vote against cloture on the Chambliss amendment because it includes a harsh guestworker program that is unfair to workers and bad for the nation.
Fight against the inclusion of REAL ID on the final bill!
Contact your Representatives this week! URGE YOUR CLIENTS TO DO THE SAME! Call your Representatives' DC offices via the Congressional switchboard (202) 224-3121 and send e-letters via Contact Congress urging them to support both the Mikulski "Save our Small and Seasonal" H-2B measure and AgJobs and oppose the REAL ID when the measure is in conference.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2005

[TNimmigrant_rights] ACTION ALERT--TN Immigrant and Refugee Access to Driver's Licenses AT RISK!

Dear Friends:
Immigrant and refugee access to Tennessee driving documents is AT GREAT RISK! Both of the anti-immigrant driver’s license bills pending in the Tennessee legislature are scheduled for committee votes this Tuesday and Wednesday (4/19 and 4/20). Please call the committee members listed below to urge them to oppose these bills. If you are from middle Tennessee, we also need your help at the legislature on Tuesday. If you are interested in advocating at the legislature on Tuesday, please call David Lubell at 615-294-0603 or email him at david@tnimmigrant.org. One of these bills would require all driving exams be given only in English, the other would repeal the driving certificate law.

Please Oppose:

· SB 0303 Ketron/HB 0242*DuBois- DRIVER’S LICENSE TRANSLATION REPEAL (read full text). This bill, if passed into law, would require the written driver license exam to be given only in English. This would erase our recent victories in obtaining languages such as Arabic and Vietnamese, and keep us from obtaining more languages such as Farsi, Somali and Kurdish. It would also erase languages currently available such as Spanish and Korean. If passed, this law would prevent tens of thousands of immigrants and refugees who know the rules of the road from obtaining a driver’s license or certificate. CLICK HERE FOR HELPFUL TALKING POINTS or scroll to bottom of this page.

· SB 1050 Ketron, Tracy/HB2132 by *Rowland, *Casada, *Brooks (Knox), *Stanley, *Maggart, *Johnson P, *Todd, *Baird, *Cochran.) - DRIVING CERTIFICATE REPEAL (read full text). This bill would change the state’s driver’s license requirements, by eliminating the driving certificate, and requiring a driver’s license applicant to provide a social security number or INS documentation. This bill would prevent tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants from obtaining any driving document. Thus Tennessee would be in the same situation it found itself before 2001: there would be tens of thousands of individuals on Tennessee’s roads that had not been licensed, and did not have insurance. CLICK HERE FOR HELPFUL TALKING POINTS or scroll to the bottom of this page.

Committee Members:

· The Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to vote on both SB 0303 (DRIVER’S LICENSE TRANSLATION) and SB 1050 (DRIVING CERTIFICATE REPEAL) on Wednesday, April 20th at 11:00 am. Please contact the following committee members to oppose these bills:

WEST TN: Chair Norris (R): Phone (615) 741-1967, sen.mark.norris@legislature.state.tn.us

MIDDLE TN: Vice Chair Tracy (D): Phone 615-741-1066, sen.jim.tracy@legislature.state.tn.us

Beavers (R): Phone (615) 741-2421, sen.mae.beavers@legislature.state.tn.us

Cooper (D): Phone (615) 741-6694, sen.jerry.cooper@legislature.state.tn.us

Kurita (D): Phone (615) 741-2374, sen.rosalind.kurita@legislature.state.tn.us

EAST TN: Crutchfield (D): Phone (615) 741-6682, sen.ward.crutchfield@legislature.state.tn.us

Hagood (R): Phone (615) 741-1648, sen.jamie.hagood@legislature.state.tn.us

Secretary Kilby (D): Phone (615) 741-1449, sen.tommy.kilby@legislature.state.tn.us

Southerland (R): Phone (615) 741-3851, sen.steve.southerland@legislature.state.tn.us

· The Public Safety & Rural Roads subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee is scheduled to vote on the HB2132 (DRIVING CERTIFICATE REPEAL) on Tuesday, April 19th at 2:15 pm. Please contact the following committee members:

WEST TN: Vice Chair Pleasant: Phone (615) 741-7084, rep.w.c.pleasant@legislature.state.tn.us

MIDDLE TN: Chair Fraley: Phone (615) 741-8695, rep.george.fraley@legislature.state.tn.us

Cobb: Phone (615) 741-6824, rep.curt.cobb@legislature.state.tn.us

Fowlkes: Phone (615) 741-1864, rep.joe.fowlkes@legislature.state.tn.us

Tidwell: Phone (615) 741-7098, rep.john.tidwell@legislature.state.tn.us

EAST TN: Davis: Phone (615) 741-1717, rep.david.davis@legislature.state.tn.us

Harmon: Phone (615) 741-6849, rep.bill.harmon@legislature.state.tn.us

Hill: Phone 615-741-2251, rep.matthew.hill@legislature.state.tn.us

Winningham: Phone (615) 741-6852, rep.leslie.winningham@legislature.state.tn.us

Find your TN State Senator

Find your TN State Representative

TALKING POINTS
Driver’s License Translation, SB 0303 by Ketron, HB 0242 by DuBois
Requires driver license exams be given in English. Requires written driver license exams be given in English only.

If passed, SB 0303 would:

1) Threaten the safety of our roads: Drivers don’t need to be fluent in English to drive safely. However, we all need to take the exam in a language we understand well, to ensure that all safety regulations are fully understood. All people who take the driving exam must demonstrate understanding of signage in English, and everyone who can demonstrate knowledge of driving safety should be able to drive. Without test translation, the number of untested and uninsured motorists will skyrocket. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “an unlicensed driver is 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a driver with a valid license.”

2) Deny refugees access to work: Refugees are required to find jobs within months of arriving in the United States, often before they are proficient in English. The best way to ensure that refugees have access to work opportunities and are able to fully participate in their communities is to enable them to drive. Refugees come to the U.S. to escape persecution, not be victims of unnecessary and unjust discrimination.

3) Make it harder for immigrants and refugees to learn English: Immigrants and refugees know better than anybody the value and importance of learning English. Adult ESL classes in Tennessee are filled beyond capacity. ELL programs in public schools are under-funded and under-resourced. Even so, second generation immigrants are far more likely to have lost their native language than to not have learned English. The best way for immigrants and refugees to learn English is for them to work and fully participate in their community. Depriving limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals access to safe and legal driving will make it less likely that they learn English.

Driver’s License Documentation, SB 1050 by Ketron, HB 2132 by Rowland, Cassada, Brooks (Knox), Stanley, Maggart, Johnson P, Todd, Baird, Cochran

If passed, SB 1050 would:

1) Threaten the safety of our roads: This bill would basically revert back to the pre-2001 driver’s license law, when no immigrant without a social security number or USCIS documentation could drive legally or obtain insurance. TIRRC did not support implementation of the driving certificate program, but the law at least acknowledges the importance of ensuring that everyone on the road is competent to drive and has insurance. Repeal of the driving certificate law without increasing eligibility for driver’s licenses would prevent tens of thousands of Tennessee immigrants from driving legally. These individuals would still drive, but would not know the state’s traffic laws, and without a license would not have access to auto insurance. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “an unlicensed driver is 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a driver with a valid license.”

2) Threaten the safety of our communities: Repeal of the driver’s license law would make it difficult—if not impossible—for law enforcement to identify and track Tennessee immigrants without social security numbers. These individuals would not have state identification, and would not have their records entered in state databases. President Bush agrees that having all immigrants identifiable improves homeland security. As he stated on January 7, 2004 during a press conference in the White House, “Our homeland will be more secure when we can better account for those who enter the country, instead of the current situation in which millions of people are unknown to the law.”

3) Drain valuable state resources: Instead of allocating their limited resources to the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of dangerous criminals, law enforcement and court officials would spend their time and money apprehending hard-working immigrants for driving with no license or certificate.

Stephen Fotopulos

Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition

1103 Chapel Avenue

Nashville, TN 37206

(615)846-6672

If you wish to be added to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition e-mail list, please send your name, e-mail adress, and a brief (two sentences max.) explanation of why you are interested in joining to David Lubell at david@tnimmigrant.org.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Posted by VisaLawyer at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2005

PERM articles & 2nd FAQ

On the weekend I have been working on writing a series of articles on PERM. These should be ready by the end of the coming week for publication.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2005

Nashville Chamber Orchestra

Tonight I went to a concert by Jose Feliciano and John Jorgenson. The city of Nashville is known for its varied and talented musicans. My wife Iris and her sister Alma enjoyed hearing the music. A live performance is an event that makes you appreciate the effort by the musicans. Fortunately in Nashville there is an abundane of live music. To enter the U.S. on a visa an artist may use an O or P visa. Now back to the concert.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2005

Radio interview with Radio ACCIR covering 6 states in Mexico

At 7:00 a.m. I met with Alejandro Solis and Jose Gonzalez to do a radio interview that will be broadcast in central Mexico. We discussed the viligantes who staged a media event in Douglas, AZ. They turned out 200 members of the press for a quote "volunteer evevnt". I have been involved in many events and to turn out 200 press members takes a media public relations effort to similar to a presidential campaign. Jack Brown, pastor joined us for the interview. The hosts from ACCIR were Linet Rubio &

Jose Meza. We talked about with Juan Jose Delgado, with the Mexican Department of Foreign Relations. There is a tremenous amount of concern over the actions of the "minute men" who only were able to achieve 20% turnout of their states goal of 1,000. There are millions of Americans who support comprehensive immigration reform.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:13 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

77% of the public (with 42% supporting it intensely) support a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform

There will be a telephonic press conference today for reporters from around the country by AILA and the National Immigration Forum regarding a poll to test public attitudes regarding comprehensive immigration reform. AILA and the Forum engaged the Tarrance Group, a Republican firm, and Lake, Snell, Perry, and Mermin, a Democratic firm, to conduct this poll.

Even after being exposed to tough criticism, 77% of the public (with 42% supporting it intensely) support a bipartisan legislative proposal that combines the elements expected to make up the McCain-Kennedy bill. Only 20% are opposed. According to Ed Goeas of Tarrance and Celinda Lake of LSPM, the public wants action on this issue and a solution.

Below is the press release from AILA.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Judith Golub (202-216-2403)
April 7, 2005 jgolub@aila.org

Julia Hendrix (202-216-2404)
jhendrix@aila.org

AMERICANS SUPPORT COMMON-SENSE IMMIGRATION REFORM
Congress Needs to Follow Up With Bipartisan, Comprehensive Reform

Washington, D.C. – New public opinion research released today by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the National Immigration Forum demonstrates American voters’ overwhelming support for comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform. Support for this proposal is strong along party lines, regional lines and demographic lines.

“Americans understand that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. We cannot continue with the status quo,” said Jeanne Butterfield, Executive Director of AILA. “In fact, enforcing dysfunctional laws is only leading to more dysfunction,” continued Ms. Butterfield. “When offered more than just enforcement-only approaches to illegal immigration and reductions in legal immigration, Americans support a comprehensive and reasonable immigration system.”

American voters support a system that combines toughness with fairness, and provides a path to citizenship with reasonable requirements, implements an effective guest worker program, and reunites families. Voters want a system that rewards immigrants who come here to work hard, pay taxes, and learn English.

“The public supports the kind of reform promoted by President Bush and Congressional leaders, not the extreme proposals from the anti-immigrant lobby,” stated Ms. Butterfield. “Such reform will create a safe, orderly, and legal system – one that is characterized by just and reasonable rules, consistent with basic American values of fairness and equal treatment under the law. Our current system keeps families separated for long periods of time, makes it difficult for U.S. businesses to employ needed workers, and forces people to live underground, fearful that our government will separate them from their families and jobs. The current enforcement system fails to prevent illegal immigration and wastes precious resources that should be spent on enhancing our security on stopping hard-working people from filling our labor market needs.”

“As the American public is well aware, our current immigration system is unworkable, outdated, and in disarray. In a debate too easily obscured by fear and threats, it is time for serious solutions to this serious challenge. We need a secure and controlled immigration system that will help keep us safe and fulfill the promise of liberty and opportunity that America represents. Congress needs to listen, and act,” concluded Ms. Butterfield.

The Tarrance Group and Lake, Snell, Perry, and Mermin conducted this poll between March 20-22 of 800 likely voters nationwide. For details on the public opinion research, please go to: http://www.aila.org/fileViewer.aspx?docID=18192
28pr5005
###

Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, and professional services. AILA advocates before Congress and the Administration and provides liaison with the DHS and other government agencies. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

American Immigration Lawyers Association
918 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 216-2400 Phone
(202) 783-7853 Fax
www.aila.org

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

Meeting with Carlos Nicho editor Mundo Hispano; bilingual newspaper

Today I met with Carlos Nicho to discuss the increase in his newspaper to 30,000 copies distributed from East to Middle Tennessee. We talked about the importance of a newspaper that covers local news in Tennessee. Carlos goal is to have a statewide paper in Tennessee. Carlos sent out a news release which I have placed below;
Mundo Hispano -Hispanic World Bilingual newspaper has launched its new broadsheet format. (Morristown, Tenn./ April 8, 2005) 'Mundo Hispano/Hispanic World' hits another milestone in its steady and constant growth road started in September of 1999. Mundo Hispano launches the new 12-page broadsheet format increasing to 5,684 square inch of image area. 30,000 copies are distributed in two monthly editions over 20 counties in Middle and East Tennessee.
“It is a happy and exciting moment to see how Mundo Hispano grows in the number of readers, advertisers, contributors and now in size”, said Carlos Nicho who is the founder and president of Mundo Hispano. “Each newspaper page now has more space for more information, more advertising and, best of all, it allows us to leave the magazine (tabloid) format behind”, said Nicho.
Last November, there was an unannounced improvement in the making of Mundo Hispano. Mundo Hispano selected The Knoxville News-Sentinel to print the newspaper using their state of the art printing machinery. The Tennesseean and The Chattanooga Times Free Press bids were also considered. This decision alone has benefited the company that now offers the best printing quality among all free Hispanic newspapers in the State of Tennessee.
'Mundo Hispano/Hispanic World' also gives the American community and business community the opportunity to serve and take part in the Hispanic Culture in an honorable fashion. It has been called a bridge between the two cultures with an eye to bringing together all the divergent cultures under the American flag.
“I believe Mundo Hispano bilingual newspaper is an indicator of the growing immigrant community and the Hispanic community in particular in the State of Tennessee. I invite our readers to participate in this unique moment,” said Nicho. “Enjoy the new and improved Mundo Hispano newspaper.”
El periódico bilingüe Mundo Hispano-Hispanic World ha lanzado su nuevo formato de "broadsheet."
Mundo Hispano alcanza otro hito en su camino de crecimiento firme y constante empezado en septiembre de 1999. Mundo Hispano lanza su nuevo formato "broadsheet" de 12 páginas, ascendiendo a 5,684 pulgadas cuadradas en área de imagen. 30,000 copias son distribuidas en dos ediciones mensuales en más de 20 condados en el Tennessee Medio y del Este.
"Es un momento feliz y emocionante ver cómo Mundo Hispano crece en el número de lectores, anunciantes, contribuyentes y ahora en tamaño", dijo Carlos Nicho quien es el fundador y presidente de Mundo Hispano. "Cada página del periódico tiene ahora más espacio para más información, más publicidad y, lo mejor de todo, nos permite dejar el formato de revista (tabloide) atrás", dijo Nicho.
El pasado noviembre, hubo una mejora en la fabricación de Mundo Hispano que no fue anunciada. Mundo Hispano seleccionó a The Knoxville News-Sentinel para imprimir el periódico usando su maquinaria de alta tecnología. Otras compañías que presentaron sus presupuestos fueron The Tennesseean y The Chattanooga Free Press Esta sola decisión benefició mucho a la compañía que ahora ofrece la mejor calidad de impresión entre todos los periódicos hispanos gratuitos en el Estado de Tennessee.
"Yo creo que el periódico bilingüe Mundo Hispano es un indicador del crecimiento de la comunidad inmigrante y la comunidad hispana en particular en el Estado de Tennessee. Invito a nuestros lectores a participar en este momento único," dijo Nicho. "Disfrute el nuevo y mejorado periódico Mundo Hispano."

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

Leadership Middle Tennessee Board Meeting

Today I went to the board meeting for Leadership Tennessee at t the Smyrna Airport. This organization seeks to enhance regionalism in middle Tennessee. At the meeting John Black, the executive director of the airport enlightened us the Board members with details of the planned expansion of the airport facilities and its importance as a regional airport for the middle Tennessee counties. The airport has the second longest runway in the state. The Airport will host the airshow on mother's day will host the United States Air Force Thunderbirds aerial jet demonstration team on May 7 and 8, 2005. The Thunderbirds and many other exciting aerial acts will rumble over the skies of Tennessee on both Saturday and Sunday. The Thunderbirds precision jet team is based at Nellis Air Force base, Las Vegas, Nevada. For air show ticket information and sponsorship opportunities, please contact the Air Show Network at www.airshownetwork.com. For ticket pricing and local hotel information please visit our air show page at http://www.smyrnaairport.com/

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

PERM transfer of priority date from family to other worker 3rd preference

A question I recevied today was "Can a unmarried daughter of a LPR who has a priority date of 1994 transfer her priority date to an “other worker” category third preference worker to take advantage of PERM web based approval" The answer is yes the law permits the transfer for the first three ppreference categories. This will allow her to use PERM to receive approval and then apply for her adjustment of status to receive her green card. Her wait will be shorten by several years.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

K-1 Fraud

Last week a client call me about a young lady that he met on the internet. He had contacted me about obtaining a K-1 visa for her. Shortly there after he called me to say that he had wired $ to a travel agency to buy her a ticket to come to the U.S. After sending the $ he lost contact with her. It is very unlikely that a single young female from a third world country would receive a visa to visit the U.S. The consular officers presume that they have the intent to reside permanently in the U.S. For information about scams go to http://www.russian-detective.com/black_lists/individ/individual_scammers3.htm

Posted by VisaLawyer at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2005

PERM Articles

I have been collecting PERM articles published by the U.S. Department of Labor, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and other sources. I will begin to place these articles with a short summary of each PERM article.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005

Real Id Alert

Contact your Representative and Senators by clicking here: http://capwiz.com/aila2/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7313861

Contact the White House by clicking here: http://capwiz.com/aila2/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=6804466

PICK UP THE PHONE: Because nothing takes the place of a call, we urge you to phone your Senators' and Representatives DC offices to register your deep opposition to REAL ID. The Congressional Switchboard number is 202-224-3121. Remember that every phone call counts.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

PERM Processing

I have been receiving more questions about PERM. Since this law took effect on March 28, 2005 the Department of Labor will begin to accept web based processing. My office has been using a web based processing system since 2003. Now almost every one of my systems has been converted to web based processing. One of the PERM questions I received was from a L visa holder who will use PERM to obtain labor certification and then apply for residency and citizenship for his wife and children.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require all U.S. citizens, Canadians and citizens of Mexico to have a passport or other accepted secure document to enter or re-enter the U.S. by January 1, 2008

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 5, 2005

New Passport Initiative Announced To Better Secure America’s Borders

Initiative Designed To Expedite Travel in the Western Hemisphere While Enhancing Security

The Departments of State and Homeland Security announced today the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative to secure and expedite travel. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require all U.S. citizens, Canadians, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and citizens of Mexico to have a passport or other accepted secure document to enter or re-enter the U.S. by January 1, 2008.

Currently, U.S. citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere are not required to present a passport to enter or re-enter the U. S. when traveling within the Western Hemisphere. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA, also known as the 9/11 Intelligence Bill), signed into law on December 17, 2004, mandated that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport, or other secure document when entering the United States.

To provide vital information to the general public, the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State (DOS) are issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the plan to the public and requesting input and/or comment on the suggested documents and possible alternative documents that can meet the statutory requirements. A more formal rulemaking will be issued later this year following review of those comments to implement the first phase of the initiative. This rulemaking will take into account comments received from the advanced notice as well as soliciting further comments on the rulemaking itself.

"Our goal is to strengthen border security and expedite entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors," Homeland Security Acting Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, Randy Beardsworth stated. "By ensuring that travelers possess secure documents, such as the passport, Homeland Security will be able to conduct more effective and efficient interviews at our borders."


"We recognize the implications this might have for industry, business and the general public, as well as our neighboring countries, and they are important partners in this initiative. The advanced notice of proposed rule making will allow these affected publics to voice concern and provide ideas for alternate documents acceptable under the law," explained Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Maura Harty. "The overarching need is to implement this legal requirement in a way that strengthens security while facilitating the movement of persons and goods."

DHS and DOS propose to roll out the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative in phases, providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to acquire the necessary documents before the deadline.


As previously noted, the passport (U.S. or Foreign) will be the document of choice for entry or re-entry into the U.S. However, another document that we anticipate will be acceptable under the travel initiative is the Border Crossing Card, (BCC – or "laser visa"). Currently, the BCC serves in lieu of a passport and a visa for citizens of Mexico traveling to the U.S. from contiguous territory. Other documents that we anticipate will be acceptable under this Initiative are the Customs and Border Protection Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program cards.

Additional documents are also being examined to determine their acceptability for travel. The public will be notified of additional travel document options as those determinations are made. The government would expect that acceptable documents must establish the citizenship and identity of the bearer, enable electronic data verification and checking, and include significant security features. Ultimately, all documents used for travel to the U.S. are expected to include biometrics that can be used to authenticate the document and verify identity.

For more information, visit:
www.travel.state.gov
www.dhs.gov.


2005/380


Released on April 5, 2005

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)

Ninth Circuit Holds “All Alien Homosexuals” Are Members of a Particular Social Group in Granting Petition for Review for Gay Lebanese Man

Court finds that Petitioner, a Lebanese national, established a well-founded fear of persecution because of his homosexuality, because he was “outed” as a homosexual, and because of his AIDS infection. In so finding the Court held that “all alien homosexuals” are members of a particular social group. (Karouni v. Gonzales, 3/7/05).

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

Border Watchers Capture Their Prey -- the Media, by David Kelly, Times Staff Writer

The LA Time wrote an article on the media event created by persons described by President Bush as "vigilantes". These are the misguided efforts of persons seeking to enforce their on brand of justice on the border. They stated that their target was to stop undocumented immigration to the U.S. However their calls to action for a 1,000 “vigilantes” fail short as only an estimated 200 turned out. However they were successful in turning out about 200 members of the media. Here is quote from the article; "Things were going better than he could imagine. The founder of the Minuteman Project, designed to put volunteers on the southeastern Arizona border to deter illegal immigrants, had attracted more than 200 journalists from around the world" at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-minuteman5apr05.story

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

Essential Workers: Immigrants are a Needed Supplement to the Native-Born Labor Force

There is an excellent study by Rob Paral with the American Immigration Law Foundation where "An analysis of data from the 2000 census reveals that employment in about one-third of all U.S. job categories would have contracted during the 1990s in the absence of recently arrived, noncitizen immigrant workers". It is important to use research to show that immigration has a positive effect on the U.S. economy. You can find the rest of the article at; http://www.ailf.org/ipc/policy_reports_2005_essentialworkers.asp

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

Ninth Circuit Reverses Removability Finding Based on Voter Fraud

McDonald v. Gonzales, (9th Cir. March 2, 2005) Petitioner, a lawful permanent resident, registered to vote by completing the bottom portion of her application for a Hawaii driver's license. At the time, Petitioner erroneously believed that she might have obtained citizenship through her marriage to a citizen. She later received a voter registration or voter inquiry postcard in the mail. On the form, Petitioner indicated that she was not a U.S. citizen. She subsequently received a Notice of Voter Registration and Address Confirmation in the mail. Petitioner interpreted receipt of these documents as government permission to vote even though the government was aware that she was not a citizen. Petitioner then voted in the 1996 primary and general elections.

In 1997, Petitioner applied for naturalization. At her naturalization interview, Petitioner admitted to having voted and the interview was terminated. She was subsequently charged and found removable under INA §237(a)(6)(A) for having voted in violation of Hawaii law. The voter fraud statute she was accused of violating provides that "any person who knowingly votes when the person is not entitled to vote" is guilty of a felony. The immigration judge (IJ) excluded the testimony of a former Hawaii state prosecutor who would have testified regarding mens rea and his former office's methods for screening cases. The IJ found that Petitioner knowingly voted when she was not entitled to vote. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the decision without opinion. The Ninth Circuit reversed.

The court held that that Petitioner did not "knowingly" commit voter fraud and, thus, she lacked the requisite mental state for violating the Hawaiian statute at issue. First, the court found that the IJ erred when he excluded the testimony of the former state prosecutor, who could have informed the IJ's interpretation of the mental state needed for a conviction under the Hawaii statute. Next, the court concluded that the IJ applied the wrong definition of "knowingly." Specifically, the IJ applied the definition of knowingly that applies to the result of someone's conduct when he should have sought to determine whether Petitioner was aware that she was ineligible to vote. "The IJ thus transformed a requirement of knowing conduct in a criminal statute into a civil standard akin to "knew or should have known," the court said.

As the finding of removability was not sustainable, the court granted the petition for review.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2005

Modelo de carta en contra de “REAL ID”

Nunca es un buen momento para una mala idea

En las próximas dos semanas, el Senado tiene la oportunidad y la responsabilidad de decir que “no” a una muy mala idea rechazando la propuesta denominada REAL ID, H.R. 418. Lo único “real” sobre este proyecto de ley es que impediría que las personas que huyen de la persecución obtengan asilo, concedería un poder sin precedentes a una agencia federal, impondría la culpabilidad por asociación, privaría a las personas de su derecho a ser escuchadas por un juez, aumentaría el peligro en nuestras carreteras y debilitaría nuestra seguridad.

Teniendo en cuenta esta lista de horribles medidas, sólo los trucos procesales pueden explicar que la Cámara haya aprobado tan rápidamente esta propuesta y el Senado esté dispuesto a considerarla. El “truco” en este caso consiste en incluirla en un proyecto de ley de “obligatoria aprobación”, la propuesta presupuestaria para financiar a nuestras tropas en Irak y sufragar la asistencia a las víctimas del Tsunami. Al intentar forzar su aprobación en el Congreso, los promotores de esta medida esperan evitar el escrutinio y ganarse más puntos cambiando su presentación, dependiendo de cómo vaya el día, como una medida que mejorará nuestra seguridad o para controlar la inmigración. Lo que hace en realidad es desviar la atención de lo que hay que hacer.

El Congreso tiene que hacer lo que es debido y rechazar esta medida que: (INCLUYA SUS PROPIOS EJEMPLOS AQUÍ PARA DESTACAR UNO O MÁS DE ESTOS PROBLEMAS O UTILICE LO SIGUIENTE)

Impediría que las personas que huyen de la persecución obtengan asilo: Las personas que buscan asilo están huyendo la persecución y el terror y ya están sometidas a controles de seguridad más intensos que cualquier otro extranjero que viene a este país. Los terroristas y otros que plantean un peligro a nuestra seguridad ya no pueden pedir asilo.

Impondría la culpabilidad por asociación: H.R. 418 impondría la culpabilidad por asociación al exigir a los extranjeros que cumplan una carga probatoria imposible de superar para convencer al gobierno de que no apoyaron el terrorismo a sabiendas. Entre otras cosas, esto permitiría la deportación de un inmigrante que haya donado dinero para la asistencia por el tsunami en la provincia indonesia de Aceh, sin saber que la organización que recibió los fondos tiene un subgrupo considerado terrorista por nuestro gobierno.

Negaría el derecho a comparecer ante la justicia: H.R. 418 es un atentado a gran escala contra la revisión judicial y el poder de los tribunales como importante garante dentro de nuestro sistema de controles y compensaciones. Por primera vez desde la Guerra Civil, esta propuesta suspendería el Gran Recurso de hábeas corpus, cerrando las puertas de los tribunales a la revisión de recursos a la legalidad de toda una serie de decisiones sobre detención o deportación. Es importante destacar que este proyecto de ley eliminaría efectivamente el poder de un tribunal federal para detener la deportación de una persona incluso mientras esté revisando un recurso contra dicha deportación.

Aumentaría el peligro en nuestras carreteras y debilitaría nuestra seguridad: La propuesta de reforma de la inteligencia que el Congreso aprobó el año pasado ya se ocupa de las preocupaciones planteadas por la Comisión del 11-S con respecto a los permisos de manejar y los documentos de identidad. Al establecer requisitos federales de elegibilidad para los permisos de manejar, incluidas las restricciones del acceso de los inmigrantes a licencias, H.R. 418 debilitaría, en lugar de mejorar, la seguridad nacional al forzar a las personas a sumirse aún más en la clandestinidad y obligar a muchos a manejar sin licencia. Esta disposición debilitaría también gravemente la utilidad para la aplicación de la ley de las bases de datos del Departamento de Vehículos Motorizados al limitar, en lugar de expandir, los datos oficiales sobre las personas que se encuentran en este país.

Otorgaría poderes generales al Secretario de Seguridad del Territorio Nacional: Esta propuesta legislativa otorgaría una autoridad sin precedentes al Secretario para anular todas las leyes y prohibir cierta revisión judicial con el fin de acelerar la construcción de barreras en nuestras fronteras.

El Congreso acertó al debatir y aprobar la Ley de Reforma de la Inteligencia y Prevención del Terrorismo (Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act) de 2004 sin estas disposiciones mal concebidas. Instamos al Senado a que rechace H.R. 418, y en su lugar, se esfuerce por reformar integralmente nuestro sistema de inmigración para que la inmigración sea legal, segura, ordenada y responda a las necesidades de las familias, los negocios y la seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2005

Unintended Consequences for deportations in Central America

Today I read an article by Chris Kraul, Robert Lopez and Rich Connell. They discuss the problems in Central American caused by the deportation of thousands of young men from the U.S. Because of the disruption of their family lives in coming to the U.S. mostly as very young boys then being thorn apart by immigration law these boys join gangs for support and identity. Our domestic immigration laws are having an unintended foreign policy consequence. You can find the article at www.latimes.com Here is a quote from the article "4 Presidents Seek Help in Gang Battle ...Central American leaders say the groups pose a hemispheric threat, augmented by U.S. deportation of criminals".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

marriage after entry on visa waiver

Today I spoke to a client whose wife entered the U.S. on visa waiver; the 90 day program that allows nationals from certain countries to enter the U.S. without a visa. After entry she married a U.S. citizen. She spoke to her embassy which advised her that she could not adjust status within the U.S. They advised her to leave the U.S. and file for adjustment outside of the country. This is a good example of the difficulty of obtaining good immigration advice. I have handled immigration cases for various persons who entered the U.S. in the same situation and later adjusted status within the U.S based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. At the interview the immigration office may require a fraud waiver. In practice normally this is not required by the immigration officer. So far all the cases I have handled that required this type of waiver have been granted.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

Great News from the Tennessee Immigrant Rights Coalition (TIRRC)

Dear Friends: Great news! The worst of the anti-immigrant bills in the Tennessee legislature this year, House Bill 0196*, was defeated – by a 5-3 vote – in the house elections sub-committee yesterday! As a reminder, HB 0196 was Tennessee’s (more extreme) version of Arizona’s proposition 200, which passed by referendum in Arizona last November.

TIRRC was given the opportunity to speak to the committee before the vote, and once again made the case that HB 0196 – if passed – would be unfair to immigrants and harmful to all Tennesseans.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO HELPED MAKE THIS VICTORY POSSIBLE!
‧ Thanks to those of you who came to the legislature over the last few months to educate legislators about the dangers of HB 0196. Special thanks to Conexion Americas, Becky Rhodes (TN bar assoc.), Eliud Trevino (El Crucero), the TN ACLU, and TIRRC’s legislative consultant Stewart Clifton.
‧ Thanks to the over 300 supporters from across the state who attended the 2nd annual legislative reception last Wednesday evening. YOUR PRESENCE AT THE RECEPTION MADE THE DIFFERENCE ON THIS VOTE! Four of the five legislators who voted against this bill attended the reception and heard your voices!

‧ Thanks to all of you who contacted legislators directly to oppose this vote. Your voices were loud, and also made a big difference. Special thanks to Ann Grizzle from Greenville for her particularly hard work in this area. Special thanks also to the members of the West, Middle and East Tennessee Regional councils for all of your phone calls and e-mails.

‧ Thanks also to the members of the ad-hoc task force that worked to strategize against this bill.

For more details on the committee vote, see the Knoxville News Sentinel Article at the bottom of this e-mail.

PLLEASE TAKE THE TIME TODAY TO THANK THE FOLLOWING TENNESSEE LEGISLATORS ON THE ELECTIONS SUB-COMMITTEE WHO VOTED AGAINST HB0196:

If you are from West TN, Thank the following state reps for voting against House Bill 0196: Rep. Lois Deberry (Memphis), Phone (615) 741-3830, e-mail: rep.lois.deberry@legislature.state.tn.us╴ (Rep. Deberry led the charge against this bill); Rep. Ulysses Jones (Memphis), Phone: (615) 741-4575, e-mail: rep.ulysses.jones@legislature.state.tn.us

If you are from Middle TN, thank the following state rep:
Rep. Edith Langster (Nash.), Phone (615)741-1997, e-mail: rep.edith.taylor.langster@legislature.state.tn.us

If you are from East TN, thank the following state reps:
Rep. Eddie Yokley (Greeneville), Phone (615) 741-6871, e-mail: rep.eddie.yokley@legislature.state.tn.us╴

Rep. John Litz (Morristown) Phone (615) 741-6877, e-mail: rep.john.litz@legislature.state.tn.us

*As a reminder, HB 0196 is a bill in the Tennessee Legislature that would require all state and local agencies administering public services (including services such as health care, law enforcement and fire) to verify immigration status, cooperate with all other agencies performing verification, and file written reports to the federal authorities of discovered violations. It would also create a Class A misdemeanor offense for failure on the part of state employees to report immigration violations to federal authorities. For more information on this and other anti-immigrant legislation pending in the TN Legislature, go to: http://www.tnimmigrant.org/ActionAlert.htm

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)