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March 31, 2006

Window of Opportunity for CIR

The Senate Judiciary Committee has set the stage for a robust Senate debate on overhauling our broken immigration system by reporting out an impressive, comprehensive bi-partisan bill. The full range of issues implicated by the impending debate are enormously complex and the stakes for immigrants, families, national security, and economic growth are extremely high. But at its core, the debate that will unfold over the next 10 days is one about self-identity and fundamental values: What kind of country is America now and what do we aspire to be? Will we continue to be a welcoming land of opportunity or a "Fortress America"?

The Judiciary Committee discussions exposed sharply competing perspectives on the significance of immigration and the role of immigrants in our society. Those who argued against providing a path to permanent legal status offered up a vision of immigrants as dispensable labor who should be granted admission only to serve our country's narrow economic demands. Those who argued that immigrants should have the opportunity to earn permanent residence articulated a vision of immigrants as much more than sweat labor; they embraced a time-cherished view of immigrants as integral to our social fabric and continuing economic vitality.

Denying immigrants a path to becoming full-fledged members of our polity and denying them the protections our Constitution accords to all persons, is to deny the full spectrum of their contributions and, indeed, to deny our very heritage. Make sure our vision of America is not lost in this debate. Use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) to call your senators NOW and urge them to support the Judiciary Committee's bill. If not now, when?

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2006

Full Senate to Begin Debating Immigration Reform

The full Senate will begin debating immigration reform. Senate Majority Leader Frist has obtained "unanimous consent" to devote the first day of debate to debate only, no amendments or votes. It is unclear which bill Senator Frist will use as the base bill for consideration, his own enforcement-heavy bill or the Senate Judiciary Committee's comprehensive immigration bill. Use the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) to call your Senators and urge them to support the Committee's bill as the starting point for debate!

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2006

Speakers at the Nashville, Tennessee rally

The rally was held at plaza in front of the Tennessee Legislature. The speakers were leaders like Father Joseph Breen of St. Edwards Catholic Church, workers and students. David Lubell of TIRC spoke about the organization and turnout.

I spoke to the crowd about my trip to Washington, D.C last Thursday as part of the AILA lobby day. I told the 15,000 that they need to call the office of Senator Frist on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform. On this coming Monday from my radio show on 8:10 am at 8:30 in the morning I will lead calls to the office of Senator Frist.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)

The marchers wanted to be part of the American dream

The march started at the Titan stadium and went down Woodland Street Bridge. Into downtown Nashville they went waving US flags and flags of Latin countries. Little kids rode on the shoulders of their parents. The marchers were highly motivated in support of reform. Shouting "si se puede!" the marchers began to walk into Nashville. As a sign that the rally was peaceful they wore white tee-shirts.

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

Immigrants rally of 15,000 in Nashville, Tennessee

The Tennessee Immigrant Coalition organized the turnout of 15,000 people on Wednesday afternoon in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The marchers were peaceful and highly motivated for reform. There were families, workers and supporters. The Hispanic radio stations and newspapers cooperated to publicize the event. This unprecedented cooperation helped to turned out the people. This was the largest immigrant turn out in Nashville' history. I closed my law office and all my employees volunteered to go to the march.

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

It Isn't Amnesty

There is an opinion piece in the New York Times published on March 29, 2006


"Here's one way to kill a cow: take it into the woods in hunting season, paint the word "deer" on it and stand back.
Something like that is happening in the immigration debate in Washington. Attackers of a smart, tough Senate bill have smeared it with the most mealy-mouthed word in the immigration glossary — amnesty — in hopes of rendering it politically toxic. They claim that the bill would bestow an official federal blessing of forgiveness on an estimated 12 million people who are living here illegally, rewarding their brazen crimes and encouraging more of the same.
The path to citizenship laid out by the Specter bill wouldn't be easy. It would take 11 years, a clean record, a steady job, payment of a $2,000 fine and back taxes, and knowledge of English and civics. That's not "amnesty," with its suggestion of getting something for nothing".

At; http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/29/opinion/29wed1.html?th&emc=th

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2006

Third Annual Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Legislative Reception

March 29th, 5:00-7:30PM
Offices of Waller, Lansden, Dortch and Davis, PLLC
511 Union St., 27th Floor Conference Center
Nashville, TN
CONTACT: Kasar Abdulla at 615-833-0384

Don't miss this extraordinary opportunity to voice your concerns to federal, state and local policymakers. Last year over 30 Tennessee legislators, the vice-mayor of Nashville, numerous representatives of all branches of government and over 300 New American leaders from across Tennessee attended this historic event. All those who participated agreed it was an amazing opportunity to network with the state's top decision-makers and advance issues of importance to the newest Tennesseans and their families. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever. We expect U.S. Representatives, State Legislators, State government officials and local decision-makers all to take part in this unique gathering.

This event is FREE and open to anyone who supports the rights of immigrants and refugees.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

Bill to Broaden Immigration Law Gains in Senate

In the New York Times there is an article by Rachel L. Swarns; published: March 28, 2006.

The article details how under the Senate proposal;

“participants in the temporary worker program would have to work for six years before they could apply for a green card. Any worker who remained unemployed for 60 days or longer during those six years would be forced to leave the country. (Employers could petition for permanent residency on behalf of their employees six months after the worker entered into the program”.)

For more go to; http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/28/politics/28immig.html?pagewanted=2&th&emc=th

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2006

Senate panel passes immigration bill!

This just in on CNN.com;

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Senate committee on Monday approved what its chairman called "comprehensive" immigration legislation, including a temporary guest-worker program.

The Judiciary Committee had rushed to finish the election-year legislation, with the full Senate scheduled to begin debate Tuesday.
Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, told the Senate after the panel vote that he expected "considerable controversy when the bill reaches the Senate floor."

"It is a very emotional issue; it is a very contentious issue," he said, adding that the committee "had a very civil debate."
He said the bill takes a "substantially different approach" than a House measure that was approved last December, which he called "an enforcement bill."

"Our legislation is comprehensive, including a temporary guest-worker program and including an approach to deal with the approximately 11 million undocumented workers in the United States," he said.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

Washington Lobbying March 23, 2006

I spent last Thursday in Washington, DC lobbying for immigration reform. This is the third year I have gone to DC for the AILA lobby day. At the office of Senator Frist I met again with Jim Hippe, his Legislative Director to discuss immigration reform. We had a good discussion about the need for immigration and the benefit to the business community. I sent Jim a research article written by Dr. Marcela Mendoza and Dr. Barbara Ellen Smith (from University of Memphis) which summarizes the main findings of the Study Latino Immigrants in Memphis: Their Local Economic Impact, published in January 2001 by the University of Memphis Center for Research on Women. This is one of the first systematic accounts of the impact of growing immigrant populations on local Tennessee communities. It is necessary to provide this type of argument to persuade Republican Senators.

In the afternoon I meet with the office of Senator Alexander. There I talked to Kim Kirkpatrick and Lindsey Ward. We had an informative discussion as to the benefits of immigrants to the U.S. Likewise I sent them a copy of the Memphis study.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2006

500,000 Pack Streets to Protest Immigration Bills

In the LA Times there was an article by Teresa Watanabe and Hector Becerra, Times Staff Writers on March 26, 2006

"The rally, part of a massive mobilization of immigrants and their supporters, may be the largest L.A. has seen. A crowd estimated by police at more than 500,000 boisterously marched in Los Angeles on Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall along the U.S.' southern border.

Spirited but peaceful marchers — ordinary immigrants alongside labor, religious and civil rights groups — stretched more than 20 blocks along Spring Street, Broadway and Main Street to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting, "Sí se puede!" (Yes we can!)".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)

Called by God to Help

By Roger Mahony, Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles, an Op-Ed Contributor, published: March 22, 2006 in the Los Angeles Times;

"I've received a lot of criticism for stating last month that I would instruct the priests of my archdiocese to disobey a proposed law that would subject them, as well as other church and humanitarian workers, to criminal penalties. The proposed Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives in December and is expected to be taken up by the Senate next week, would among other things subject to five years in prison anyone who "assists" an undocumented immigrant "to remain in the United States."

Some supporters of the bill have even accused the church of encouraging illegal immigration and meddling in politics. But I stand by my statement. Part of the mission of the Roman Catholic Church is to help people in need. It is our Gospel mandate, in which Christ instructs us to clothe the naked, feed the poor and welcome the stranger. Indeed, the Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities agencies around the country, is one of the largest nonprofit providers of social services in the nation, serving both citizens and immigrants".

For more go to;

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2006

Bush Is Facing a Difficult Path on Immigration

In the New York Times, by Elisabeth Miller, published: March 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, March 23 — In the days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, immigration policy was going to be President Bush's signature issue. It was central to his thinking as the former governor of a border state, key to his relationship with President Vicente Fox of Mexico and essential in attracting new Hispanic voters to the Republican Party.

Five years later, Mr. Bush has at last realized some momentum on immigration policy, but it is probably not the activity he once anticipated.

For more go to;
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/24/politics/24bush.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2006

Remarks by President Bush on Immigration Reform Remarks by President Bush on Immigration Reform

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, for Immediate Release, March 23, 2006,

The Roosevelt Room

THE PRESIDENT: I've just had a very constructive and important dialogue with members of the agricultural community, the faith community, the concerned citizen community about immigration. Ours is a nation of law and ours is a nation of immigrants, and we believe that we can have rational, important immigration policy that's based upon law and reflects our deep desire to be a compassionate and decent nation.

Our government must enforce our borders; we've got plans in place to do so. But part of enforcing our borders is to have a guest worker program that encourages people to register their presence so that we know who they are, and says to them, if you're doing a job an American won't do, you're welcome here for a period of time to do that job.

The immigration debate is a vital debate for our country. It's important that we have a serious debate, one that discusses the issues. But I urge members of Congress and I urge people who like to comment on this issue to make sure the rhetoric is in accord with our traditions. I look around the table and I recognize that we've got people from different backgrounds, different heritages. We all may have different family histories, but we all sit around this table as Americans.

And, therefore, when we conduct this debate it must be done in a civil way. It must be done in a way that brings dignity to the process. It must be done in a way that doesn't pit one group of people against another. It must be done in a way that recognizes our history. I think now is the time for the United States Congress to act to get an immigration plan that is comprehensive and rational and achieves important objectives.

So I want to welcome you all for being here. I want to thank you very much for your involvement in this vital issue. I've assured folks here at the table that I will continue to speak out on the issue. I feel passionately about the need for our country to conduct themselves with dignity and, at the same time, enforce our border and treat people here with respect.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:33 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2006

Can't Come to DC for Lobby Day, but Still Want to be Heard?

This message from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, TAKE ACTION;

Call Both of Your Senators and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist!
Tell Them to Give the Senate Judiciary Committee More Time for Debate!

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee made significant progress in crafting a bipartisan agreement on an immigration reform bill that addresses several key issues, including an earned path to citizenship for the current undocumented population and future immigrant workers. The agreement also includes strong worker protections. The Senate Judiciary Committee will resume its debate and will vote on legislation on Monday, March 27th.

While the Judiciary Committee members were working hard to reach a thoughtful, bipartisan consensus on this complicated issue, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), introduced his own enforcement-heavy bill, thereby demonstrating his continued intent to move legislation to the Senate Floor the week of March 27, as noted in the preceding article!

Let's make our voices heard and let the Senate and especially Senator Frist know how we feel about his push to enact enforcement-only legislation. Call Your Senators and then call Frist's Washington and Tennessee offices on Wednesday and Thursday with a strong message:

1. I OPPOSE any potential move by Senator Frist to bypass the Judiciary Committee and bring his own enforcement-heavy bill to the Senate floor in lieu of the bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee intends to report out!

2. I SUPPORT a comprehensive and humane solution to our broken immigration system. REAL REFORM includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented population, family reunification, and a new worker program that provides strong worker protections and a safe and secure way for workers to come to the U.S. in the future.

3. I SUPPORT the work of the Judiciary Committee and they should have as much time as they need to complete their work on this critical issue.

Find your Senators' Phone Numbers on Contact Congress

CALL SENATOR BILL FRIST AT:
Washington, D.C. 202-224-3344
Nashville, TN 615-352-9411

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2006

Senate Judiciary Committee to Continue Mark Up of Immigration Bill on Monday, March 27; Frist Refuses to Allow More Time, Introduces his Own Bill

Just in from AILA;

In hopes of bringing the controversial subject of the undocumented population to a vote in Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee will continue marking up draft legislation by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, known as the "Chairman's Mark," on Monday, March 27. Committee Members finally broached the subject on day five of the markup (March 16), but deferred any votes on the subject until after this week's congressional recess.

As background, Senator Frist has been threatening to bring his enforcement-heavy legislation directly to the Senate floor unless the Judiciary Committee produces a bill by March 27. Senator Frist could do this using the seldom employed "Rule 14" procedure that permits him to introduce a bill and bypass the committee process so that it goes directly to the Senate calendar. Despite requests from Chairman Specter and others to allow the Judiciary Committee's work on the bill to run its course, Senator Frist has been unwilling to back off of his deadline and introduced his own bill, the Securing America's Borders Act (S. 2454), on March 16. The Frist bill takes Chairman Specter's Mark, strips out the guestworker plan and the provisions dealing with the undocumented population and replaces them with an enforcement-heavy approach, and ads to this mix the Republican-sponsored amendments adopted thus far in the Committee's markup of the Specter Mark. View a section-by-section summary of the Frist bill prepared by Senator Frist's staff. Call Senator Frist at his office at (615) 352-9411 Nashville (202) 224-3344 Washington D.C.

There is still time to call Committee members and insist that they improve the bill! View our summaries of the markup to date including a complete listing of the amendments that have been addressed thus far (Days 1-3; Day 4; Day 5). Even if your Senators are not on the Judiciary Committee, please call them today and urge them to support comprehensive immigration reform! All Senators need to hear from pro-immigration advocates in anticipation of the fast-approaching floor debate.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006

AILA Lobby Day

I am looking forward going to Washington, DC on Thursday, March 23, 2006. As the MidSouth Chapter Advocacy Chair I have arranged to visit congressional offices.

The Lobby Day Schedule'

8:00 - 9:00 -- Registration and breakfast briefing in the Grand Ballroom at the Washington Court Hotel (525 New Jersey Ave., NW -- Metro directions below)
9:00 - 12:00 -- Congressional office visits
12:00 - 1:30 -- Lunch and speakers in Cannon Caucus Room 345 (Cannon House Office Building, 1st St. and Independence Ave., SE)
1:30 - 5:30 -- Congressional office visits
5:30 - 7:00 -- Lobby Day reception in the Atrium Ballroom at the Washington Court Hotel

I will be blogging from my Blackberry on Wednesday. More to come on lobby day.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

Online petition in support of comprehensive immigration reform

See below for an online petition in support of comprehensive immigration reform that is being circulated at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/HR4437

Feel free to sign the petition and forward it to others, both AILA members and immigrants' rights supporters.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2006

Border War

There is a great article in the New York Time by George Ball published March 19, 2006 from Warminster, Pa.

"The horticultural world is having its own debate over immigration, with some environmentalists warning about the dangers of so-called exotic plants from other countries and continents "invading" American gardens. These botanical xenophobes say that a pristine natural state exists in our yards and that to disturb it is both sinful and calamitous. In their view, exotic plants will swallow your garden, your neighbors' gardens and your neighbors' neighbors' gardens until the ecosystem collapses under their rampant suffocating growth".

For more go to the www.nytimes.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2006

An Immigration Breakthrough

There is an Editorial in the New York Times which illustrates the turning point in the immigration debate.

Published: March 18, 2006;

“The clock was running out on the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, and with it the chances for a meaningful overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. After weeks of work, the committee members faced a rigid deadline to get a bill ready before next week's recess. But about all they had agreed on were various ways to tighten the borders. It was increasingly likely that Congress's message to 12 million illegal immigrants would end up being this: Thanks for the help — now get out.

But in a startling pivot, so sharp you could almost hear it, a bipartisan consensus emerged in the hearing room. Senator Arlen Specter, the committee's chairman, endorsed the principle behind an earlier bill sponsored by Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy: that illegal immigrants who met strict criteria and paid fines and back taxes should have a path to permanent residency and citizenship”.

For more go to;
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/18/opinion/18sat1.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2006

As Senators Debate Immigration Bill, Frist Offers His Own

In the New York Times there is an article by Rachel L. Swarns published March 17, 2006.

"WASHINGTON, March 16 — Senator Bill Frist, the Republican leader, introduced a stringent border security bill on Thursday, rejecting pleas from senators in his own party who appealed for more time to finish legislation that would create a guest worker program for foreigners and a legal remedy for millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States.

Mr. Frist said his bill would include several measures already hammered out in negotiations under way in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had included an increase in the number of border guards, more fencing along the Mexican border and faster deportation of illegal immigrants. But Mr. Frist's bill would not create the temporary worker program that President Bush has urged to legalize the status of the 11 million illegal immigrants thought to be in this country".

For more go to; http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/17/politics/17immig.html?th&emc=th

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:21 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2006

Senate Judiciary Committee Begins Debate on the 12 Million Undocumented but Defers Vote Until After Recess

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee finally broached the controversial subject of the undocumented population on day five of the Committee's markup of draft legislation on comprehensive immigration reform known as the "Chairman's Mark," but deferred any votes on the subject until after next week's congressional recess.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

Senate Judiciary Committee Continues Slow Progress in Markup of Immigration Reform Legislation

This just in from AILA;

The Senate Judiciary Committee continued its consideration today of draft legislation on comprehensive immigration reform sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter. The Committee officially took up the bill, known as the “Chairman’s Mark,” on March 2 but has made very slow progress to date.

The following is a very brief summary of the amendments that were addressed during today’s session. See our previous update on last week’s markup sessions. We will continue to update you as action on the bill continues.

1. The Committee passed by a voice vote a compromise amendment by Feingold that would preserve some level of judicial review over naturalization applications.

2. A Specter 2nd degree amendment to a Sessions amendment on evading inspection passed.

3. A Leahy amendment on security-related issues passed by voice vote.

4. A Kennedy amendment to ameliorate the Mark’s retroactive provisions was debated and deferred.

5. A Feinstein amendment to modify the provisions of the Mark relating to border security was deferred for future action.

6. A Durbin amendment to strike the Mark’s criminalization of unlawful status was once again deferred for future consideration. Feinstein attempted to offer a 2nd degree amendment that would provide aliens with a 60-day grace period for visa overstays before they are subject to criminal prosecution under INA § 275(a), but Specter would not allow it since Durbin’s underlying amendment was set aside.

7. A Durbin amendment to ameliorate the Mark’s smuggling provision so as not to criminalize humanitarian assistance was once again debated and deferred. Kyl spoke in opposition to the amendment. Cornyn had a second degree that Hatch thought was insufficient. Hatch, Schumer and Biden spoke in opposition to Cornyn’s 2nd degree. Cornyn was not convincing, but Kyl did some damage.

8. A Sessions amendment to affirm the inherent authority of state and local law enforcement personnel to enforce federal civil immigration laws during the normal course of carrying out their duties was discussed. Specter offered a 2nd degree that would limit the inherent authority of states and localities to the enforcement of the criminal provisions of the immigration laws. Sessions would only support the 2nd degree if the provisions of the Mark criminalizing unlawful presence remain intact. Thus, if the Durbin amendment to strike those provisions passes, Sessions wants to revisit the Specter 2nd degree. Specter’s 2nd degree passed by voice vote.

9. A Sessions amendment that would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide information to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) related to aliens who may have violated certain immigration laws passed by a voice vote. The broadly worded amendment would encompass visa overstayers, other civil violators, and even members of vulnerable populations such as asylum-seekers who are improperly documented but seeking relief. Leahy and Kennedy voted against the amendment and Leahy spoke in opposition to overloading the NCIC database with individuals who do not belong in it. A Specter 2nd degree amendment that would provide a procedure for requesting removal from the database and modify the group of individuals included in it passed by voice vote.

10. A Sessions amendment that would require at least one law enforcement agency in each state to enter into a § 287(g) cooperative enforcement agreement to enforce immigration laws against alien smugglers was considered. Sessions accepted a Coburn 2nd degree amendment that would clarify: (1) that such agreements would be purely voluntary, and (2) that the §287(g) enforcement authority would not be limited to alien smuggling. There was no quorum to vote on these, however, and they were set aside.

Part way through the markup, Specter attempted to jump to a debate on the issue of the undocumented population, noting that he has reiterated to Senate Majority Leader Frist that he (Specter) opposes bringing immigration reform to the Senate Floor before the Senate Judiciary Committee had completed its consideration of the Chairman’s Mark. Biden and Kennedy voiced their support of Specter’s desire to complete work in Committee. Kennedy added, “this issue is NOT going away, like some other issues,” and urged deferral of the Title VI discussion until tomorrow (Title VI contains the provisions dealing with the undocumented population). He added that we need to deal with ALL aspects of reform to have real, lasting border security—going forward with any of these components alone will fail.

Durbin said that, to defeat the House bill (H.R. 4437), the Committee needs to pass a strong bipartisan bill with the support of about 12 members. He feels the Committee should do an extra markup session on a day when there is no other Senate business. “We need to watch the House,” noted Durbin, adding: “They have a bill we need to fight at all costs. We need bipartisan support out of this Committee.”

Brownback stated that the Committee has started a process to create broad bipartisan support for good policy, and that this is the most significant legislation of the year. “We have serious problems with immigrant numbers,” he said. “We can’t live with these and need to change them. McCain/Kennedy would deal with this. How do we get the Mark to deal with these numbers? We need a way NOT to end up here again after 10 years. We can’t move too quickly.”

Cornyn described the process as akin to “digging out of a big hole,” noting that with enforcement done first, other issues would get simpler. He believes we need to impose circularity---not permanent immigration.

Coburn said that, like it or not, we have to deal with issue of the undocumented population. He urged the Committee to split the bill in two and do enforcement first, and work to reach consensus on other parts later in the year. “No one in the country trusts us on this issue because we haven’t enforced our existing laws,” he said.

Feinstein stated her concerns about the process, and also spoke out against comprehensive immigration reform and in favor of her more limited agricultural pilot program idea. She said she had met with Senator Craig (the sponsor of AgJobs) yesterday to see if they could work out their differences but there has been no resolution yet. She also expressed much frustration with Frist’s artificial timeline. She indicated her opposition to the House bill, and said that consensus was needed in the Committee (she believes the Committee has come to some consensus on the enforcement pieces but little else). She urged Specter to go back to Frist and ask for more time.

Sessions said we need to focus on enforcement now, and then have a national discussion later on the other elements of immigration reform. He believes Congress needs to focus on enforcement to build credibility with the public. “I’m not prepared to repeat 1986,” he said. “We should slow down.”

Specter repeatedly voiced his concern about “line-jumping,” arguing that the McCain/Kennedy bill would “leap frog” the current undocumented population over individuals who have been waiting in the backlogs. He also said that he’d prefer it if the legislation contained a path to citizenship but, as Chair, was trying to balance both sides.

In other hurdles to the Judiciary Committee’s completion of work on the bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Grassley, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee, argued that the Finance Committee should have jurisdiction over the provisions of the Mark relating to the Social Security Act, adding that the IRS has raised serious concerns about some of these amendments. However, several other senators argued for consideration of these provisions in the Judiciary Committee. It is also possible that Grassley could exercise the Finance Committee’s authority by managing those amendments during floor debate.

The Committee disbanded about noon, due to a number of votes on the Senate Floor and the attendant low probability of maintaining a voting quorum in the Committee.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2006

phone call to Alan Specter in support of CIR comprehensive immigration reform

Today I called in support of CIR to the office of Senator Specter's Judiciary Committee office at (202) 224-5225. I spoke to Jake the assistant who transered me to voicemail. I left a message supporting CIR. It is important to make this call. In Spanish we have a saying that everyone contributes their grain of sand.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

Senate Action Thus Far

From: Maurice BelangerMaurice Belanger, Director of Public Information, National Immigration Forum
mbelanger@immigrationforum.org
Web: http://www.immigrationforum.org
http://www.communityresourcebank.org

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee met twice to consider amendments to the draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation written by the Chairman of the Committee, Arlen Specter (R-PA).

On Wednesday, the Committee often fell short of the quorum needed to vote on amendments. That was an intermittent problem on Thursday as well.

The Committee has proceeded through Titles I and II, having to do with border and interior enforcement. Among some of the amendments passed were an amendment by Senator Cornyn to provide reimbursement to states and local governments for training and equipment costs related to the enforcement of federal immigration laws (for those localities that agree to enforce federal immigration laws); an amendment by Senator Sessions to require the detention of “Other than Mexicans” who are apprehended at or between ports of entry; an amendment by Senator Grassley that would ensure at least a minimum number of enforcement personnel allocated to each state; a Brownback amendment regarding foreign doctors working in areas that are currently under-served; a Coburn amendment mandating expedited removal within 100 miles of the border for persons apprehended within 14 days of entry; and a Feinstein amendment exempting asylees and refugees from the passport fraud provisions in the Chairman’s Mark.

Several other amendments, good and bad, were offered, some passed, most were deferred. Senator Sessions announced his intention to offer several more amendments relating to enforcement, including amendments related to state and local enforcement of immigration laws.

Timeline: The Committee is still under pressure to complete consideration of the bill before the Senate leaves for Spring recess at the end of this week.. The Committee resumes action on Wednesday March 15. Sometime on Wednesday or Thursday they are slated to get to Title VI, having to do with how the undocumented population will be treated.

If the Committee fails to complete its consideration of the bill, there is still a threat by Senator Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Leader, to bring up his own enforcement-only bill on the Floor of the Senate when the Senate returns to Washington at the end of March.

Civics Lesson: A Grand American Tradition

Throughout our history, when groups of people have been attacked by politicians of the day, they’ve organized and fought back to protect themselves. We are in one of those periods where many of our politicians are trying to cash in on anger being stirred up by talk radio and megalomaniac television personalities. These politicians may find, however, that the cash comes with a very high interest rate.

Immigrants and their advocates are organizing to fight back, and they are beginning to be noticed.. Here is how last week looked from here:

§ On Tuesday, the local immigration coalition, the National Capitol Immigration Coalition organized a rally in front of the Capitol that turned out 30,000 people. If you were listening to the Judiciary Committee markup, you may have heard Senator Durbin refer to that rally.

§ On Wednesday, all around our offices near Capitol Hill, everywhere you turned there were people with white t-shirts provided by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which organized approximately 2,400 people mainly from Boston and New York to lobby for the Kennedy/McCain bill.

§ By Thursday, the call-in day set by the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, action alerts sent by dozens of networks were ricocheting around the internet, including one sent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to its 100,000-person list. On a nationwide call organized by the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that took place on Friday, some callers reported that their Senate offices told them that the offices were getting a lot of calls.

§ Sending us home for the weekend on a high note, the folks in Chicago organized a demonstration in that city on Friday that turned out 100,000 people, according to police estimates.

There were more such actions around the country before, during, and after last week. To see who else has been organizing activities, see the calendar of events on the Web site of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

http://www.cirnoworg/content/en/calendar.htm

If you know of events being planned that are not on the calendar, contact Kate Shaughnessy at: kshaughnessy@cirnow.org.

We have a long way to go, but it feels like the ball is starting to roll…

Action Alert: Call the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday March 15

…and so let’s keep it rolling! Following is an action alert sent by the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT SENATE MEMBERS CONTINUE TO HEAR OUR VOICES! The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to review and revise Senator Specter's (R-PA) draft immigration bill ("Chairman's Mark") this Wednesday and Thursday.

Call Senator Specter, the Judiciary Committee Chair, on Wednesday, March 15 and let him know:

§ I support realistic, humane comprehensive immigration reform.

§ I oppose legislation that creates a permanent, second-class of workers who will never have a meaningful path to citizenship; the "Gold Card" proposal is unacceptable.

§ I believe the Judiciary Committee should not have to work under an arbitrary deadline set by Senator Frist (R-TN) and should have all the time it needs to bring forth a REAL comprehensive immigration reform bill.

You can contact Senator Specter's Judiciary Committee office at: (202) 224-5225

For more information on the "Gold Card" proposal, please visit:

http://www.cirnow.org/content/en/specter_030206.htm

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

Congress in denial on immigration

There is an opinion piece in the Daily Press by Colgan, the son of a Cuban immigrant, is a partner in the Hampton Roads law firm Colgan, Kimball and Carnes. He practices criminal and immigration law. Send e-mail to colgan@cox.net. Copyright © 2006, Daily Press

“Upwards of 20,000 undocumented workers and their supporters rallied for immigration reform in Washington on Tuesday. Exhibiting the denial that has plagued efforts to reform our immigration laws in the past, nary a congressman or senator came to show support. Like ostriches with their heads in the sand, our elected officials are hoping the whole problem will just disappear, if only they can keep their heads down long enough. It won't, and they can't.

For more go to; http://www.dailypress.com/news/opinion/dp-85106sy0mar11,0,7183571.story?coll=dp-opinion-editorials

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2006

Chamber Goes to Washington

Chamber Goes to Washington
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Government Update, 3/10/06

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce took a delegation of 25 Board members and community leaders to Washington D.C. this week. The group, led by Chamber Chairman Bob Fisher and Vice Chairman of Government Relations James Weaver, met with members of the Tennessee delegation and presented them with the Chamber's 2006 Legislative Agenda. The group held private meetings with legislators to specifically discuss four items on the Chamber's Federal Agenda with particular interest to Nashville's business community: Immigration Reform, the Wright Amendment, funding for the Federal Courthouse building, and Intellectual Property protection.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2006

Open Doors Don't Invite Criminals

In the NY Times there is an Op-Ed by ROBERT J. SAMPSON, published March 11, 2006 in Cambridge, Mass.

He debunks the myth that immigrants raise crime rates. Actually immigrants drive down crime rates.

"LAW enforcement officials, politicians and social scientists have put forward many explanations for the astonishing drop in crime rates in America over the last decade or so, and yet we remain mystified. Studies have shown that while each of the usual suspects — a decline in crack use, aggressive policing, increased prison populations, a relatively strong economy, increased availability of abortion — has probably played some role, none has proved to be as dominant a factor as initially suggested.

Perhaps we have been overlooking something obvious — something that our implicit biases caused us not to notice. My unusual suspect is foreigners: evidence points to increased immigration as a major factor associated with the lower crime rate of the 1990's (and its recent leveling off".

For more go to: http://www.nytimes.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2006

Suggested Procedure for Requesting Duplicate Approved Labor Certification for I-140 Filing

The AILA-Service Center Operations Liaison committee proposed procedures to USCIS to request a duplicate approved labor certification from the DOL for I-140 filings, drawing upon information obtained through the AILA-DOL Liaison committee. The office of Service Center Operations concurred with the following recommendations: Members are instructed to include on the top of the I-140 a cover sheet (preferably highlighted with colored paper) stating the following: LOST OR MISPLACED LABOR CERTIFICATION, REQUEST FOR DUPLICATE, DO NOT REJECT On the same sheet, the following information should also be included: 1. Attorney name; 2. Petitioner's name; 3. Beneficiary's name; 4. ETA case number; 5. Priority Date; 6. Whether the case was filed on ETA-750 or on ETA-9089; 7. A print screen showing that the case has been certified. 8. Provide the reason(s) for requesting that the Service Center secure a duplicate, approved labor certificate from DOL, e.g. "Case was certified, original approved labor certificate was never received in the mail." * * * * * * * * * * SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING CONCURRENT FILING AND THIS PROCEDURE Notably, USCIS cannot establish a firm priority date until the duplicate approved labor certification is received from DOL. Therefore, concurrent filing is not permissible if one is filing under this procedure. Additionally, if members do file concurrently with one filing check, USCIS has instructed the Service Centers to reject both the I-140 petition and the I-485 application. If separate checks accompany each, only the I-485 will be rejected.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006

AFBF Study: Immigration Reform Must Include Guest-Worker Provisions

WASHINGTON, February 7, 2006 – Failure to include comprehensive guest-worker provisions in any new or reformed immigration law could cause up to $9 billion annually in overall losses to the U.S. agriculture industry and losses of up to $5 billion annually in net farm income, according to a detailed study released by the American Farm Bureau Federation today.

If Congress ultimately approves a new immigration law that does not account for agriculture’s needs for guest workers, like the bill approved by the House last year, then the consequences for American agriculture will be dire, according to the study.

For more information contact;
Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org

Mace Thornton
(202) 406-3641
macet@fb.org

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2006

ACTION: National Call-in Day Reminder

THIS IS A FRIENDLY REMINDER TO CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY!! All Senators, and especially members of the Judiciary Committee, need to hear from their pro-immigrant constituents.

The Senate debate on immigration reform has begun! The Senate Judiciary Committee began consideration of Senator Specter's (R-PA) draft bill ("Chairman's Mark") on Thursday, March 2 and will continue reviewing and revising the bill on March 8, 9 and 16. The Chairman's Mark has some very serious problems, including not providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, creating a permanent caste of second class workers, and limiting due process and judicial review.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOUR SENATORS HEAR FROM YOU! CALL YOUR SENATORS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 9 and urge passage of a realistic, humane comprehensive bill that contains a path to earned citizenship for the undocumented population, extends labor rights and protections to all workers, reunites families, and does not limit judicial review and due process. It is especially important to call if your Senator is on the Judiciary Committee!

You can contact your Senators' offices through the Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121. Toll Free: (888) 355-3588 (Note: This toll free number may change without notice.)

You can also find contact information for your Senators here:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

A list of Senators who serve on the Judiciary Committee can be found here:

http://judiciary.senate.gov/members.cfm

For updates and more information, please visit http://www.cirnow.org/

PLEASE FORWARD THIS FAR AND WIDE!

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2006

To Interested Immigration Advocates

From: Maurice BelangerMaurice Belanger, Director of Public Information, National Immigration Forum
mbelanger@immigrationforumorg
Web: http://www.immigrationforum.org
http://www.communityresourcebank.org

Reminder: National Call-In Day for Comprehensive Immigration Reform March 9

At the very least, you should be contacting your Senators on Thursday, March 9 about comprehensive immigration reform. Better: call your Senators and members of the Judiciary Committee throughout this week. Why?

An alert from the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform put it best:

“We need to ramp up our calls to the Senate in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Once again we are being outdone by the small, but very vocal anti-immigrant voice. With the amazing number of organizations working to advance comprehensive immigration reform we should be able to not only close the gap but surpass the anti-immigrant voice with pro-immigrant calls!!

Resources;

Senate Judiciary Committee Members – Contact Info by State (this list was compiled by Legal Momentum).

California:
Senator Feinstein’s office at 202-224-3841 fax 202-228-3954
e-mail: directly through link on feinstein.senate.gov

Delaware:
Senator Biden’s office at 202-224-5042 fax 202-224-0139
e-mail: directly through link on biden.senate.gov

Illinois:
Senator Durbin’s office at 202-224-2152 fax 202-228-0400
e-mail: directly through link on durbin.senate.gov


Iowa:
Senator Grassley’s office at 202-224-3744
e-mail: directly through link on grassley.senate.gov

Kansas:
Senator Brownback’s office at 202-224-6521 fax202-228-1265
e-mail: sam_brownback@brownback.senate.gov

Massachusetts:
Senator Kennedy’s office at 202-224-5251 fax 202-224-4543
e-mail: directly through link on kennedy.senate.gov

New York:
Senator Schumer’s office at 202-224-6542 fax 202-228-3027
e-mail: directly through link on schumer.senate.gov

Ohio:
Senator DeWine’s office at 202-224-2315 fax 202-224-6519
e-mail: senator_dewine@dewine.senate.gov

Oklahoma
Senator Coburn’s office at 202-224-5754 fax 202-224-6008
e-mail: directly through link on coburn.senate.gov

Pennsylvania:
Senator Specter’s office at 202-224-4254 fax 202-228-1229
e-mail: arlen_specter@specter.senate.gov

South Carolina:
Senator Graham’s office at 202-224-5972
e-mail: directly through link on graham.senate.gov

Texas:
Senator Cornyn’s office at 202-224-2934 fax 202-228-2856
e-mail: directly through link on cornyn.senate.gov

Utah:
Senator Hatch’s office at 202-224-5251 fax 202-224-6331
e-mail: directly through link on hatch.senate.gov

Vermont:
Senator Leahy’s office at 202-224-4242
e-mail: senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

Wisconsin:
Senator Kohl’s office at 202-224-5653 fax 202-224-9787
e-mail: directly through link on kohl.senate.gov

Senator Feingold’s office at 202-224-5323
e-mail: russ_feingold@feingold.senate.gov

More Contact info for Senators can be found at:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

More information will be posted on this page by tomorrow:
http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=732

New on the Forum Web site (related to comprehensive immigration reform)

Editorial support keeps pouring in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. You might use one from your local paper in your communication with your Senator. See our updated compilation of editorials and op eds supporting comprehensive immigration reform and the Kennedy/McCain bill:

http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=742

Our home page has links to items we mentioned last week:
http://www.immigrationforum.org

Posted by VisaLawyer at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2006

New IPC Report Reveals Voting Patterns behind House's Passage of Immigration Enforcement Bill

The Immigration Policy Center, a division of AILF, AILA's sister foundation, has released a new report--"Playing Politics on Immigration"--showing that U.S. Representatives with low numbers of undocumented immigrants residing in their districts were most likely to support the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437), passed by the House in December. IPC Research Fellow Rob Paral writes, "Lawmakers whose constituents experience relatively little impact from undocumented immigration have the luxury of playing politics on the issue rather than confronting it directly."

View the full report at www.ailf.org/ipc/policybrief/policybrief_2006_playingpolitics.shtml

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2006

URGENT ACTION ALERT

Senate Action on Immigration Legislation has Begun

As you know, the Senate Judiciary Committee has begun its work on immigration reform legislation. Markup of Senator Specter's bill, called the chairman's "mark", began on Thursday, March 2. The opening statements of Senators may be found on the Judiciary Committee Web site. As of this writing, two are available at: http://judiciary.senate.gov/meeting_notice.cfm?id=1789

Amendments Will Be Considered Beginning Wednesday March 8

The Committee will be meeting again on Wednesday March 8 and Thursday March 9 to consider amendments to the Chairman's bill. The plan is to go through the bill by section, beginning with Title I (border enforcement) Title II (interior enforcement) and Title III (worksite enforcement). There will be good and bad amendments offered, but amendments do not need to be filed until 5:00 the day before the meeting.

Continue Your Calls and Letters to Senate Offices!

Senators, especially members of the Judiciary Committee, need to be hearing from pro-immigrant advocates about the need for comprehensive reform. We have just been informed that in the last two days, Senator Kennedy’s office has received 300 anti-immigrant calls. Senator McCain's office has also received an inflated number of calls, and other offices are getting as many or more. Even though the Chairman’s mark does not offer a path to citizenship for the undocumented, anti-immigrant groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform are calling it an amnesty, because it gives work authorization to the undocumented. They are going to fight to make sure the bill ultimately contains nothing for the undocumented.

The Chairman's mark also contains several provisions that would further erode due process and judicial review. Tell your Senator that Sensenbrenner-like provisions should not be included in the final bill!

While it is good to call in any time, there will be a national call-in day on Thursday March 9.

You can contact your Senators’ offices through the Senate switchboard at: (202) 224-3121. You can also find contact information your Senators here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

A list of Senators who serve on the Judiciary Committee can be found here: http://judiciary.senate.gov/members.cfm

Please go to the AILA website to send a letter directly to your Senator. Click here to go directly to the ACTION ALERT PAGE, which will link you to Contact Congress and additional materials you may need: http://capwiz.com/aila2/callalert/index.tt?alertid=8530336&type=TA

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2006

A cardinal truth

In the Los Angeles Times on March, 3 2006 there is an editorial titled COMPLIMENTS TO CARDINAL by Roger M. Mahony, where he describes the Cardinal "who not only has been saying the right things about illegal immigrants but also has been reinforcing the right of religious leaders to speak out on the moral ramifications of political issues. The leader of the archdiocese that encompasses the nation's largest population of illegal immigrants spoke to a reality that cannot be denied, even among vigilante border guards: The current immigration situation cannot hold.

It is neither ethical nor sustainable for the U.S. to benefit from the willingness of an estimated 8 million people to work hard at uninviting jobs for low wages, yet deny them any formal status, down to the right to drive. At the same time, the federal government puts state and local taxpayers in the position of paying for schooling and healthcare while it virtually ignores the existence of those creating the strain on the services".

For more go to: http://www.latimes.com/

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2006

The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition Mission Statement

Business have joined the side of immigration reform. Here is the mission statement of The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition.

It (EWIC) is a coalition of businesses, trade associations, and other organizations from across the industry spectrum concerned with the shortage of both skilled and lesser skilled ("essential worker") labor. EWIC stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress to push forward on important immigration reform issues.

EWIC supports policies that facilitate the employment of essential workers by U.S. companies and organizations. Current immigration law largely prevents the hiring of foreign essential workers. EWIC supports reform of US immigration policy to facilitate a sustainable workforce for the American economy while ensuring our national security and prosperity.

Essential Worker Immigration Coalition
1615 H Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20062
(202) 463-5931
ewic@uschamber.com
http://www.ewic.org

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2006

Achieving 'Security and Prosperity Migration and North American Economic Integration

AILF/IPC's new IN FOCUS Report discusses how North American economic integration via NAFTA and SPP have created structural conditions that encourage Mexican migration to the U.S. Not dealing with labor migration issues will doom additional border security measures to failure in reducing undocumented migration by Jason Ackleson, Ph.D.

For more go to; http://www.ailf.org/ipc/infocus/2006_achievingsecurity.shtml

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2006

Immigrants Gain the Pulpit

There is an article in the LA Times with Cardinal Mahony who says he will ask priests to provide aid without proof of documentation even if proposed restrictions become law.

By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer, March 1, 2006;

Wading back into the growing debate over illegal immigration, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony on Tuesday denounced what he called "hysterical" anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping California and the nation.

In an interview on the eve of Ash Wednesday, Mahony said he planned to use the first day of the Lenten season to call on all 288 parishes in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the nation's largest, to fast, pray and press for humane immigration reform. U.S. Roman Catholic bishops support proposals for a guest-worker program, legalization of undocumented immigrants and more visas for migrant families.

For more go to; http://www.latimes.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

Misconception on SSNs

AILA's SSA liaison committee notes that contrary to popular belief, neither immigration law nor federal tax law requires an individual to possess an SSN to begin working. IRCA does not require an employee to present an SSN Card but, rather, lists the Card as a possible "List C" document of work authorization. Similarly, the Internal Revenue Code does not require an employee to possess an SSN to begin working. It requires only that an application for an SSN be made within seven days of commencing employment for taxable wages. 26 USC Section 6011; 26 CFR Section 31.6011(b)-2. Usually, the real obstacle to commencing employment is the software of a third-party payroll preparer, which cannot generate a paycheck without the number. Under these circumstances, if permitted by its system, the preparer can use a "dummy" SSN solely to generate a paycheck, provided the actual SSN or other required information is provided on the information returns at the time of filing. Further instructions are on the SSA website at www.ssa.gov/employer/. For further information, see Social Insecurity: Aliens, Employers, and Social Security Requirements, 2 Immigration & Nationality Law Handbook, 367 (2004-05 Ed.).

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)