August 31, 2006
Texas business: Pass immigration reform
Here is an article in the Dallas Morning News calling for immigration reform from business leaders;
"You hear the same story across the U.S. A relatively small number of foreign workers keeps millions of native-born Americans employed. This, in turn, keeps the economy growing, and we all share in the prosperity that results.
Not only that, but immigrant workers renew and reinvigorate America. They remind us what it's like to give a job your all. We talk about old-fashioned family values; they live them. And those of us who cherish our faith and love our country can only rejoice at their devotion to both.
As chairmen, CEOs and stockholders, we call on Congress to act – to go back to Washington and pass realistic immigration reform that provides the workers we need to keep our businesses growing.
We understand that this will include workplace enforcement. In fact, we welcome reform that gives us the tools to stay on the right side of the law. The important thing is that this vital part of the economy be brought under the rule and protection of the law.
Neither the immigrants here today nor those we will need in the future should have to live in the shadows. These are good people with good values doing work that we need done, reaching for the American Dream and helping make it a reality for all. As we value the work, let us value the worker – and let's fix the law so that it serves all Americans.
Bo Pilgrim, Pilgrim's Pride, Pittsburg
Harold Simmons, Contran Corporation, Dallas
Bob Perry, Perry Homes, Houston
Vance Miller, Henry S. Miller, Dallas
J. Huffines, Huffines Auto Group, Dallas
Red McCombs, McCombs Enterprises, San Antonio
W.L. Hunt, Hunt Building Corporation, El Paso
James Leininger, M.D., San Antonio
Phil Adams, Phil Adams Company, Bryan
Bob Barnes, Schlotzsky's, Austin
Kent Hance, Hance Scarborough Wright, Dallas
Tom Loeffler, Loeffler Tuggey Pauerstein Rosenthal LLP, San Antonio
Louis Beecherl, Beecherl Investments, Dallas
Henry J. "Bud" Smith, Bud Smith Organization, Dallas
Dennis Nixon, IBC Bank, Laredo
Ernesto Ancira Jr., Ancira Enterprises, San Antonio
Tom Hewitt, Interstate Hotels & Resorts
Tom Corcoran, FelCor Lodging Trust Inc.
Lionel Sosa, MATT.org, San Antonio
Henry Cisneros, CityView, San Antonio
Henry R. Muñoz III, Kell Muñoz Architects, San Antonio
Harold MacDowell, TDIndustries, Dallas
Pedro Aguirre, Aguirre Corporation, Dallas
Robert "Buddy" Barnes, Dee Brown Inc., Garland
Stephen M. Pitt, Boulder Imports, Houston
Brad Bouma, Select Milk Producers Inc., Plainview
Wayne Palla, Dairy Farmers of America, Grapevine
Jim Baird, Lone Star Milk Producers Inc., Windthorst
Randy Davis, Greenleaf Nursery, El Campo
Josh Bracken, Nicholson-Hardie Garden Centers, Dallas
David R. Pinkus, Tawakoni Plant Farm, Wills Point
Don Darby, Darby Greenhouses & Farms, Jacksonville
Georges Le Mener, Accor North America, Carrollton
Stevan Porter, InterContinental Hotels Group
John Caparella, Gaylord Hotels
Tony Farris, Quorum Hotels"
Debate Endgame in this Congress -- Stalemate, Solution, or Setback?
There is an article about immigration reform in the New America Media, Commentary, Frank Sharry, Aug 24, 2006
"Editor's Note: With time running out for this Congress to legislate on immigration, Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, lays out the possible outcome of the rancorous debate this year. IMMIGRATION MATTERS regularly features the views of the nation's leading immigrant rights advocates.
WASHINGTON, D.C.--When Congress returns just after Labor Day, it only has five weeks left before recessing for the mid-term elections in November. With immigration being one of the nation's top policy issues, will some sort of immigration bill be enacted this year? If so, what kind?
The debate is so volatile it's risky to make predictions. But I like taking chances, so here are four possible scenarios, with my predictions of their likelihood, from most likely in my view, to least".
August 30, 2006
Commerce secretary stresses need to address immigration
Here is an article on the need for business immigration reform by Brad Wong, P-I REPORTER
"Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez brought the issue of immigration reform to Seattle on Tuesday, calling it "the domestic social issue of our time" and a challenge that can be an opportunity.
”We've dealt with immigration in the past," he said.
But sorting out the details of the current state of immigration in the United States remains a hurdle.
Those details, he said, include: How to handle the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, their 3 million children, labor demands of U.S. companies, a possible visiting-worker program and border security.
Gutierrez, who was visiting Seattle as part of a national tour, spoke at the Washington Athletic Club as part of a meeting sponsored by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and several business groups.
The presence of so many business groups was fitting, given the need for workers in state industries ranging from agriculture to high technology.
While border security is a top priority, Gutierrez said a comprehensive reform package must keep in mind the need for goods and services to freely enter and leave the country".
BALCA Issues Favorable Decision in First PERM Case
AILA's BALCA amicus team reports that BALCA has just rendered its decision in Matter of HealthAmerica, BALCA Case No: 2006-PER-1. The decision is solidly in favor of the Employer. BALCA held: "…although an agency may impose a rigid regulatory scheme to promote administrative efficiency, under the particular circumstances of this case, the ETA Certifying Officer's ("CO") denial of reconsideration was an abuse of discretion."
August 29, 2006
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives (TCCE) Conference 2006
I have placed a video on youtube with Mike Neal the former CEO of the Nashville Chamber. I gave an update on immigration reform to the TCCE. Mike and I and others worked together to make comprehensive immigration a key federal legislative issue for the Nashville Chamber in 2006. There were chamber CEO's for all of Tennessee attending the conference.
You may see the video at;
August 28, 2006
FAQ: Singapore H-1B1
Free Answer; you may apply for a change to an H1b visa. Once granted you would lose your status as an H-1B1 visa holder; because you may only hold one nonimmigrant visa at a time. You may work under the H-1B until 10/1/06 when your H1B visa wound take effect.
Free Question Can I apply for the conventional H1B visa when I am holding the H1B1 visa (for Singaporeans)???
Can I still work in US using H1B1 visa when my new H1B visa take effective on Oct 1st??
Thanks for your answers in advance!
August 27, 2006
Husband Dies Before Wife Completes Immigration Process
This is a tragic story from NBC 6, South Florida;
"Without Immediate Relative In U.S., Woman Could Be Deported
MIAMI -- A Dominican woman married to a Cuban green-card holder may face deportation because her husband had a heart attack during an immigration hearing last week and died before her case was closed, according to U.S. Immigration officials.
They said it is potentially a precedent-setting immigration case.
Maritza Hernandez, 53, had gone through questioning, and her husband, Juan, was in the midst of it. But he died before her application was ever approved.
U.S. Immigration officials haven't decided yet how to handle the case, but Hernandez's immigration attorney is pressing for her to be granted a green card despite her husband's death.
Federal law allows immediate relatives of Cubans to be granted green cards, just as Cubans are".
August 26, 2006
FAQ; I-485 Approval from CIS by e-mail
Here is an example of an e-mail from CIS of an I-485 approval. In the 19 years that I have been an immigration lawyer this is the first time I have received from immigration notice of the outcome of an interview by e-mail. This is great!! Now I have written information as to the approval of an interview. This is a great step forward by CIS on customer service. Below is a copy of the approval notice;
From: USCIS-CSSO [mailto:USCIS-CSSO@dhs.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 5:30 PM
Subject: Case Status Information for Tracking Number: (Client family name, first name)
*** DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS E-MAIL ***
The following is the latest information on your case status
Receipt Number: MSCXXXXXXXX
Application Type: I485 , Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
On August 22, 2006, a welcome notice was mailed for this case. If 30 days have passed and you have not received this notice. Please call the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283 during business hours.
If you have questions or concerns about your application or the case status results listed above, or if you have not received a decision or advice from USCIS within the projected processing time frame*, please contact the National Customer Service Center.
National Customer Service Center (800) 375-5283.
*The projected processing time frame can be found on the receipt notice that you received from the USCIS.
*** Please do not respond to this e-mail message.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
August 25, 2006
Cracks in a Republican Base; Hard-Line Immigration Stance Angers Some Business Groups
There is an article about the need for reform from the business community in the Wall Street by Sarah Lueck, August 24, 2006;
"Dennis Nixon, a bank executive from Laredo, Texas, has long supported Republican politicians. He is in frequent contact with his state's congressional delegation and has been a generous donor to the party, contributing thousands of dollars each year to help elect Republicans to Congress and ranking as one of President Bush's fund-raising "Rangers" in 2004.
But recently Mr. Nixon, chairman of International Bancshares Corp., has found himself at odds with Republicans on one issue: immigration. He opposes the enforcement-focused approach favored by most House Republicans and instead wants an immigration overhaul that "recognizes that illegal immigration is filling a gigantic need" in the labor market.
At a recent immigration hearing in Houston, Mr. Nixon was invited to testify by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat -- not the Republicans who organized the event. And he sparred with Republican Rep. Ted Poe, also of Texas, who suggested Mr. Nixon is more concerned with making money than securing the border.
"I feel like a man without a party," Mr. Nixon says. Last year, he gave $10,000 to the Republican National Committee, but now says he is "less engaged" in the congressional campaign. "My enthusiasm has basically waned. ... They're not supporting what I think is a well-reasoned, well-thought-out vision for America"."
Write to Sarah Lueck at email@example.com
AG: No immigration bill by election
Here is an update on immigration reform;
"Gonzales says border security must be 1st step of any plan, August 22, 2006, Gromer Jeffers, Jr., The Dallas Morning News
Attorney General Al Gonzales said Monday that it was unlikely Congress would
settle on an immigration overhaul bill by November, leaving the matter to be
decided by a lame-duck president and a new Congress.
"It's really going to be a challenge to get something done before the
election," Mr. Gonzales told The Dallas Morning News' editorial board. "But it's got
to get done. The problem is only going to be worse."
Overhauling national immigration policy has become one of the most
challenging issues facing Congress and President Bush.
And the collage of proposals – ranging from walls to keep out illegal
immigrants to guest-worker programs that create paths to citizenship – could have an impact on the November midterm elections".
August 24, 2006
Immigration activist to seek order barring removal
Here is an update on the case of Elvira Arellano;
August 22, 2006, by the Associated Press, in the Suntimes;
"The attorney for an immigration activist who has taken refuge in a church in hopes of stopping the government from sending her back to Mexico said Tuesday that he will ask a judge to block her deportation.
Attorney Joseph Mathews said he planned to request a temporary injunction Wednesday in the case of 31-year-old Elvira Arellano, who was arrested four years ago after entering the country illegally.
Mathews said in a telephone interview he would ask the court to declare that deporting Arellano would effectively lead to the deportation of her 7-year-old son, Saul, and thus violate his rights as an American citizen.
Arellano was scheduled to surrender to authorities on Aug. 15 but sought sanctuary in a church instead. She and her supporters say only a court order can stop the government from forcibly removing her from the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago's heavily Puerto Rican Humboldt Park neighborhood.
August 23, 2006
States efforts to enforce immigration may be unconstitutional
The National Conference of State Legislatures held in Nashville TN last week. Attending from Hawaii was my Cal Western law school classmate Terrence Aratani. It was great to see him again and to meet the fellow members of the Hawaii delegation. Here is an article about the NCSL by KVOA, Tuscon;
"Lawmakers around the country are passing state laws to get tough on illegal immigration, but legal experts say many of those laws will turn out to be unconstitutional.
More than 550 bills relating to illegal immigration were introduced in statehouses this year, and at least 77 were enacted, according to a survey presented last week at the annual meetings of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
However, NCSL analyst Ann Morse told lawmakers at the conference that a 1986 federal law forbids states from enacting stricter criminal or civil penalties for illegal immigration than those adopted by Congress. "The federal government decided it was too complicated for the states to enact their own competing laws on this," she said.
So what about the laws passed this year? "I believe they'll be tested in court," she said.
Illegal immigration bills this year have included measures on education, employment, driver's license, law enforcement, legal services and trafficking.
"Unique among the states, Georgia introduced a bill that addressed all these different policy arenas, and passed it as one bill earlier this spring," Morse said".
August 22, 2006
USCIS Establishes Records Digitization Facility
It is great to see that USCIS is joining the web age!
USCIS News Release, August 17, 2006
USCIS Announces Establishment of Records Digitization Facility
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today the establishment of a new Records Digitization Facility (RDF) in Williamsburg, Kentucky to digitize more than one million USCIS Alien-Files (A-Files) during the first phase of the inaugural project. While this is a relatively small percentage of the approximately 70 million immigration records, USCIS plans to use the digitized files to begin the transformation of its business processes. Congress has provided dedicated funding for the
digitization of approximately one million files per year.
"The Records Digitization Facility represents a major step toward USCIS' ongoing electronic record-keeping re-engineering effort and is a key component of continued USCIS business systems transformation," remarked USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez. "The Digitization of USCIS Alien-Files will increase efficiency, provide our customers with timely service they deserve, and simultaneously enhance our national security capabilities and protections against fraud and illegal activity," he added.
The digitized A-files can be made available to multiple users at the same time, and they can be made available immediately without shipping or handling. The ready availability of files will improve customer service and support the integrity of immigration applications. Moreover, when files are needed for law enforcement or national security reasons, the ability to make them available to multiple users simultaneously is very valuable.
USCIS awarded the multi-year contract to support the digitization of A-File data to Datatrac Information Services, Inc. Datatrac will operate the facility for USCIS in Williamsburg, KY and will provide document scanning, physical and electronic records management, metadata capture and data transmission into the USCIS document management environment.
August 21, 2006
The Growth and Reach of Immigration: New Census Bureau Data Underscore Importance of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Force
NEW RELEASE August 16, 2006
by Rob Paral
New data released by the Census Bureau on August 15 underscore the extent to which immigration continues to fuel the expansion of the U.S. labor force. The foreign-born population of the United States increased by 4.9 million between 2000 and 2005; raising the total foreign-born population to 35.7 million, or 12.4 percent of the 288.4 million people in the country. While the majority of immigrants still settle in traditional gateway states such as California, Florida, New York, and Texas, growing numbers also are settling in non-traditional destinations like South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Moreover, immigration is stabilizing the populations of states such as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Yet the continued growth of the immigrant population and its dispersion to new locales is not displacing or otherwise disadvantaging most native-born workers. Immigrants are going where there are job openings and economic opportunities. As Congress debates competing proposals for comprehensive immigration reform, it would do well to pay close attention to these trends. Immigrants already have become an indispensable part of the U.S. labor force.
Among the findings of this report:
Immigrants account for more than one in six persons (15 percent or more) in seven states: California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Nevada, and Hawaii.
Immigrants from Latin America constitute a majority (57.3 percent) of the immigrants who arrived in the United States between 2000 and 2005. One quarter of recent arrivals came from Asia and about 9.6 percent from Europe.
Naturalized immigrants comprise one in five voting-age adults in California and more than 10 percent in New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Florida.
The primary reason that immigrants dont have a negative impact on the majority of native-born workers is that they arent competing for the same jobs. The U.S. population is growing older and better educated, while the U.S. economy continues to create a large number of jobs that favor younger workers with little formal education.
Between 2000 and 2005, the median age of the U.S. population increased from 35.3 to 36.4 years old and the share of adults with at least a high-school diploma increased from 80 to 84 percent, while the share with at least a bachelors degree rose from 24 to 27 percent.
For more information contact Tim Vettel at (202) 742-5608.
The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is dedicated exclusively to the analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States. The IPC is a division of the American Immigration Law Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational foundation under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.
American Immigration Law Foundation
918 F Street, NW - Washington, DC 20004
August 20, 2006
Singapore Acts as Haven for Stem Cell Research
Here is an article which shows how the lack of immigration reform is huttting the U.S. economy;
By Wayne Arnold, New York Times, published: August 17, 2006
"SINGAPORE, Aug. 16 — You can’t buy Wrigley’s Spearmint gum in Singapore. But human embryonic stem cells? That’s a different matter.
Last month a local company, ES Cell International, claimed to be the first company to commercially produce human embryonic stem cell lines in a way that makes them suitable for clinical trials. Researchers can buy vials of stem cells from ES Cell over the Internet for $6,000.
Singapore, notably conservative on most social issues — including a ban on most types of chewing gum — is emerging as a hotbed for stem cell research, thanks to liberal laws in that field and equally liberal government financing.
Lately the tiny island-state’s ambition of joining the ranks of Boston and the Bay Area as a biotech hub has been getting a hand from an unexpected quarter: the White House. Bush administration policies that restrict federal money for stem cell research have prompted an increasing number of top scientists to pack their bags and head for this equatorial city.
Two of America’s most prominent cancer researchers, Neal G. Copeland and Nancy A. Jenkins, are planning to arrive here next month to take posts at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. The husband-and-wife team, who worked for 20 years at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, said politics and budget cuts had left financing in the United States too hard to come by.
“We wanted to be in a place where they are excited by science and things are moving upward,” said Dr. Copeland, who said he and his wife had already rented a condominium near Singapore’s shopping district and had joined the local American Club.
Scientists say President Bush’s veto last month of legislation to raise limits on federal financing for stem cell research was the latest in a series of setbacks, which they say are stifling the research environment and eroding the edge in basic medical science that the United States has held since World War II".
August 19, 2006
Chicago Woman’s Stand Stirs Immigration Debate
In the New York Times there is an article by Gretchen Ruething published August 19, 2006 which details the struggle by Elvira Arellano. Her struggle has helped expose the cruetly of U.S. immigration law which separates parents and children. This is contrary to the principles of "life, liberty and happiness" in the bill of rights.
"CHICAGO, Aug. 18 — In a small storefront church in a Puerto Rican neighborhood on the city’s West Side, Elvira Arellano, a fugitive from the government, waits with her 7-year-old son and prays. Ms. Arellano, 31, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, defied an order to report to the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday to be deported and is instead seeking sanctuary in her church.
Ms. Arellano is hoping Congress will act on a private relief bill that would allow her and her son, Saul, a United States citizen who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, to stay in the country, where she says he can get better medical treatment.
“I’m not a terrorist,” said Ms. Arellano, who came to the United States illegally nine years ago and is facing her second deportation. “I’m only a single mother with a son who’s an American citizen.”
Ms. Arellano, president of an advocacy group called La Familia Latina Unida, said she hoped her action would help to bring about legislation to protect families that could be torn apart by deportation".
August 18, 2006
We Are America Coalition Balances the Story Offered by House Hearings
For Immediate Release, Contacts: August 14, 2006 Mary Gutierrez, (LA County Federation of Labor) Office: 213.381.5611, After Hours: 213.276.3384
Stephanie Kotin (CARECEN)
Office: 213.385.0312, After Hours: 323.313.7515
Congresswoman Grace Napolitano Heard Diverse Expert and Personal Testimonies on Contributions Immigrants Make to America
Los Angeles, CA. In response to Congress’ immigration field hearings, the We Are America Coalition held a counter hearing today at UCLA’s De Neve Auditorium titled “Balancing the Story: Ways Immigrants Contribute to America.” In demonstrating the real contributions immigrants make to the United States, the hearing today offered a different story than that being told in recent House hearings.
“As House Republicans are spending their time and using tax payers’ dollars to bash immigrants, we believe that the American public deserve to hear from a diverse array of experts on the immigration issue, not just from those who support enforcement-only immigration legislation,” stated Angela Sanbrano, Executive Director of CARECEN, a We Are America Coalition member. Recent polls conducted by multiple groups have concluded that nearly seventy five percent of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrant community. Only twenty five percent of Americans support an enforcement-only approach to immigration reform.
Despite these polls’ findings, the immigration reform debate in Congress is at an impasse. In an effort to garner support for their enforcement-only immigration legislation, House Republicans began holding hearing in July in cities through the U.S. These hearings have provided a platform from which vociferous anti-immigrant groups and individuals have been able to broadcast their harsh views. While the Senate is also convening hearings to consider a broader approach to immigration reform, We Are America Coalition believes that the hearings are not balanced and do not offer real and complete story to the American public.
“The one-sided hearings being organized by House Republicans serve to derail genuine debate on real solutions to immigration reform. The hearing at UCLA provides the other side of the story, the real story,” added Eun Sook Lee, Executive Director the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, another coalition member.
Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, heard testimonies from a diverse group of experts and individuals, all of whom have extensive contact with the immigrant
community and knowledge of the immigrant experience in the United States. Keith Parker, a Vice Chancellor at UCLA, welcomed leaders from the academic, labor, business, and faith sectors, and immigrants who made their voices heard at today’s event.
Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Maria Elena Durazo, was first to offer testimony, supplying the key perspective of the labor sector on immigration. She was followed by experts from the academic sector, UC Davis’s Bill Hing, Professor of Asian American Studies and Law, and UCLA Professor of History Kelly Lytle Hernandez, who provided an in-depth and researched analysis on the vital role immigrants have played over time in the United States. On behalf of the business sector, Juan Moreno of the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas spoke of the multiple benefits immigrants have on the economy and the business sector. Jamal Watkins, Director of the Western Region of the NAACP, provided expert testimony on behalf of the civil rights community, explaining how the current struggle for immigrant rights is also one for civil rights. Mr. Watkins’s testimony was proceeded by the final expert testimony, that of Father Mike Gutierrez of CLUE-La and the Inter-religious Task Force. Andrew Jung, a U.S. born citizen whose parents were deported, opened the personal testimonies, and was followed by Patty Simmons, a Hilton Hotel worker, Adriano Elnar Carino and Ignacia Carino, World War II Veterans who have been waiting to see their son for over 15 years. The Filipino couple’s testimony was proceeded by testimonies from Elsy Zavala, an immigrant student, and Will Echeverria, an immigrant from El Salvador who is now a teacher. Rosalva Kuhn, a Mexican immigrant whose sons died in Iraq and received citizenship posthumously, offered the final testimony of the hearing. A team of researchers spearheaded by Dr. Octavio Pescador of UCLA’s Paolo Freire Institute will write the report from the hearing, recording the expert and personal testimonies, and detailing recommendations from Congresswoman Grace Napolitano.
Partnering with the We Are America Coalition, People for the American Way held a press conference today in San Diego focusing on the need of immigrant labor and comprehensive immigration reform from the perspective of the business sector. Among the speakers at the San Diego press conference were representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Western Growers Association, and professors from Stanford University and UCSD. For more information on both of today’s events in support of comprehensive immigration reform, contact Mary Gutierrez or Stephanie Kotin.
August 17, 2006
Elvira Arrelano video at www.youtube.com
There is a video of Elvira Arrelano at www.youtube.com by nogales007 or go to
There you can see a video and interview by Univision with her.
Check out my video regarding the sham immigration hearing in Brentwood TN by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
at mrvisa. There I have uploaded three video with interview with Yuri Cunza, President of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Jose Castro, reporter and one by me. Camera and video taping were not allowed in the meeting so I filmed outside of the Brentwood City Hall.
Immigration activist claims sanctuary
In the Chicago Sun Times there is an article by Ester J. Cepeda Staff, reporter August 15, 2006 which shows how desperate parents are to remain with Saul, her 7 year old U.S. born son;
“Immigration activist Elvira Arellano has turned to Adalberto United Methodist Church, on the 2100 block of W. Division St., for sanctuary as she waits for bills to be introduced into Congress that would allow her to extend her stay in the United States….
“I will stay however long is necessary,” said Arellano. “I’m strong and I’ve learned from Rosa Parks- I’m not going to go to the back of the bus. The law is wrong.” She’s asked her supporters to call the offices of Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin to demand they intervene on her behalf”.
August 16, 2006
Immigration Hearing Spawns Protests
Here is an article about the U.S. House immigration hearings in Georgia;
"Scott Myrick, WNEG NewsChannel 32, Monday, August 14, 2006
"These Congressional hearings are a sham. They're a dog and pony show -- shame on Congressman Deal, shame on Congressman Norwood for having these instead of working on true reform," Jerry Gonzalez tells NewsChannel 32.
He leads GALEO, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.
He believes what the House of Representatives calls solutions will really only make the problem of illegal immigration worse.
The House, he says, is only concerned with "enforcement" -- keeping undocumented workers out of the country.
But He and his supporters want "comprehensive" reforms, which would make it easier for people to work legally in the United States.
"Where would Gainesville and Dalton be without the immigrants that have come here to provide the much-needed labor to these communities," Gonzalez says".
August 15, 2006
Immigration critic has thin skin; thin logic, too
Here is an article by Ruben Navarratte published on August 13, 2006, which I am reprinting as per his permission;
"SAN DIEGO — Although his name is attached to one of the most significant immigration bills in 20 years, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner acknowledges he doesn’t have all the answers.
Believe it. During a recent and at times testy meeting with The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board, the Wisconsin Republican — who was in town to preside over yet another of those insufferable field hearings on immigration — was likable enough but not very impressive.
Instead, Sensenbrenner was naive when he said that, “If we enforce employer sanctions, a lot of (illegal immigrants) will lose their jobs and go home naturally.” That is — don’t laugh — they’ll self-deport.
He was disingenuous when — after the GOP spent months insisting that immigration is the main issue this election year — he argued that it is “just one of many issues” and Republicans may not suffer a backlash from voters if they can’t get anything done on immigration this year.
He was hypocritical when — after being grilled about why his bill doesn’t include a tamper-proof ID card and relies on Social Security numbers to verify employment eligibility — he bristled that we can’t “throw up our arms” and find fault in every approach. I pointed out that this was exactly what House Republicans are doing with the Senate bill.
He was awfully thin-skinned when he talked — repeatedly — about “the name-calling ... by a lot of the pro-immigrant advocates,” including officials of the Mexican government and protesters in Mexico City who, according to Sensenbrenner, have carried signs depicting him as a Nazi.
And he was evasive when I asked him about what he insisted was the major problem with the compromise plan offered by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. The plan rejects amnesty but provides guest workers for employers.
What concerns Sensenbrenner is that the plan “provides unlimited immigration from Mexico and Central America.” I asked him if that meant he’d like to see a return to the pre-1965 system when we had immigration quotas based on country of origin.
No, he insisted, he didn’t support quotas, but he and some of his GOP colleagues did have concerns about an “immigration system heavily weighted toward Mexicans and Central Americans rather than people from other parts of the world.” Then, he tried to change the subject.
I pressed him on whether rhetoric like that fed the perception that Republicans are flirting with nativism or racism. If you say the problem is that there are too many Mexicans, I asked, then why isn’t the conversation anti-Mexican?
He tried to change the subject again. “A lot of the conversation is anti-Mexican,” he said, “because the Mexican government is committing, at the very least, a sin of omission. It’s to their advantage for people to go north so they don’t have to educate them and provide ...”
“I’m not talking about the Mexican government,” I interrupted. “I’m talking about the tenor of the debate in this country ... and when you say that what worries you about the Pence plan is that we could have unlimited migration from Mexico, if you’re Mexican and you hear that, the response is: ‘Well then, this is an anti-Mexican discussion. ...”’
By now Sensenbrenner was agitated, but still not eager to answer the question. “Well, I can say that the Mexican government has been absolutely disingenuous in attacking me right from the very beginning. ...”
“If you don’t want to answer the question, that’s fine,” I said.
Then he went from agitated to angry. “Well,” he said, “the Mexican government, I’m sorry Ruben, has been responsible for that.”
He was talking about the ugliness of the debate. He’s not the bad guy, he insisted.
“I have tried my darnedest to keep the debate on the issue and not get involved in race-baiting by anybody,” he said. “I’m trying to get a responsible immigration bill passed that treats with fairness Hispanics who wish to immigrate into the United States. ...”
Yet Sensenbrenner thinks it’s fair to object to a proposed solution on the grounds that it would allow in too many Latinos, and then insists that he’s not appealing to bigotry.
You could have fooled me.
But interestingly, Sensenbrenner may not be all that wedded to his bill. He told us that the way out of the impasse between the House and Senate is “to start with a clean piece of paper and put together a clean bill that is neither the House bill nor the Senate bill ... and then make sure it passes.”
Fine. Then get to it".
Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O. Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112-0191. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 14, 2006
Immigration Judges Facing Performance Reviews
In the New York Times there is an article by Nina Bernstein, August 10, 2006;
"WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales warned the nation’s 215 immigration judges on Wednesday that they all faced annual performance evaluations for the first time and regular scrutiny to detect high reversal rates, frequent complaints or unusual backlogs. But the consequences of failing were not spelled out. And some of the judges said they worried that evaluations would increase pressure on all judges to make decisions faster, without weeding out the handful of judges who have drawn the most criticism".
August 13, 2006
ICE Announces Seven New Fugitive Operations Teams
Here is a sign of things to come;
ICE Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers announced that seven new ICE Fugitive Operations teams are now operating in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, Phoenix, Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, NC, bringing the total number of teams nationwide to 45. Although based in specific regional offices, these teams have federal authority and nationwide jurisdiction and can be deployed to conduct operations anywhere in the country. They use intelligence-based information and leads to find, arrest, and place into removal proceedings aliens subject to removal orders. According to ICE, the teams prioritize their efforts to arrest aliens according to public safety criteria and other factors. By the end of September, a total of 52 Fugitive Operations teams are scheduled to be operational nationwide. The Administration's fiscal year 2007 proposed budget would allow ICE to deploy an additional 18 teams.
August 12, 2006
TN: Facts Not Easy To Verify In Hearing On Immigration; Complaints By Residents Don't Match Statistics
Here is an article from the Atlanta Journal;By Tom Baxter
"Brentwood, Tenn. --- Amid criticism that the proceeding was politically motivated, a House field hearing chaired by Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) tried Thursday to square anecdotal evidence about the burden illegal immigration puts on hospitals with hard numbers from health care officials.
The field hearing was one of 21 scheduled during the August congressional recess by House members who back the tough, law enforcement-oriented approach to illegal immigration embodied in their chamber's bill, passed last December.
Critics, including immigrant advocates who held a news conference before the hearing, charge that the goal of the hearings is to scuttle the Senate version of the bill, passed this spring and backed by President Bush. While stepping up enforcement, it would also create a guest worker program and provide a route to citizenship for illegal immigants --- provisions absent from the House bill.
Two more hearings will be held next week, in Dalton and Gainesville, whose Latino populations are among the highest in Georgia.
Brentwood, the scene of Thursday's hearing, is a suburb of Nashville, which has seen its Hispanic immigrant population explode in the past decade. The hearing brought together Republican state legislators and hospital and health care officials to talk about the costs incurred by uninsured illegal immigrants who show up in emergency rooms requiring care.
The state's struggling TennCare system --- Tennessee's version of Medicaid --- has been dramatically scaled back, with some 300,000 Tennesseans taken off the roles in an effort to make it solvent. State Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) testified that "when illegal immigrants continually fill our emergency rooms and state clinics, people want to know why their neighbors and relatives don't have greater access to health care."
But it proved difficult to put hard numbers on how great a burden illegal immigrants place on the system.
TennCare Deputy Commission Darin Gordon testified that under federal law, his program must pay for one-time emergency care. But he said this requirement was an "extremely small" part of a program that covers 1.2 million people in the state, and that illegal immigrants represented a small faction of that proportion: 62 last month, at a cost of $1.7 million".
August 11, 2006
GOP paints Dems as soft on immigration
In Tennessee the state Republican have released a plan to address series of issues in campaign to control legislation. The funny part of this plan is that Republicans control the U.S. Congress and state Republicans are trying to blame the Democracts. The voters will remember to punish those in control of the issue, i.e. the Congressional Republicans.
Here is an article by Tennessean staff writer Trent Seibert and Jackson Sun reporter Ned B. Hunter.
"Republican members of the Tennessee House of Representatives began touring the state Tuesday, painting Democratic counterparts as soft on illegal immigration...
Illegal immigration was the first topic at orchestrated press conferences in 16 cities across Tennessee, including Jackson, Milan, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Clarksville and Cleveland. The Republicans' platform hinges on resurrecting five immigration reform bills that Republicans said were killed by Democrats during last year's General Assembly session".
August 10, 2006
Democrats accuse Blackburn and other House Republicans of grandstanding
In the Tennessean there is an article by Travis Loller, Staff Writer;
“U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) is hosting a hearing on “Examining the Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Medicaid Program and Our Healthcare Delivery System” Thursday. The hearing is one of several across the country.
Although the event is billed as a nonpartisan approach to gathering information on the issue and boasts an impressive panel of expert witnesses, Democrats accuse Blackburn and other House Republicans of grandstanding”.
Here is info about the sham hearing from the website of Marsha Blackburn;
Representative Marsha Blackburn (TN-7th District) will host a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing to investigate the cost of illegal immigration to the nation's health care system on Thursday, August 10 at Brentwood City Hall. Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Nathan Deal will chair the hearing.
Brentwood City Hall, 5211 Maryland Way, Brentwood, Thursday, August 10th at 10:00 AM CST
Here is a list of the Witnesses that will provide testimony with my comments as notes after their name and title.
Tennessee State Senator Bill Ketron
Note; Senator Ketron has run a very conservative campaign while in office. Unfortunately for him platform is a loser in the last several statewide campaigns in Tennessee.
Tennessee State Representative Donna Rowland
Note; Representative Donna Rowland likewise has run extremely conservative campaigns, see above.
Mr. Darin J., Director, Bureau of Tenncare
Note; undocumented workers receive no Tenncare. The undocumented workers do pay taxes to support those receiving Tenncare.
Dr. Dennis G. Smith, Center for Medicaid, Washington, DC
Note; undocumented workers receive no Medicaid, however they pay taxes which support Medicard.
Mrs. Jone Koford, President of American Division, LifePoint Hospitals, Brentwood, TN
Note; very few immigrants legal or otherwise live in Brentwood.
So I ask the question is this hearing a burning issue or one which will burn those who participate.
Mr. Bob Duncan, V.P. for Advocacy and Government, Methodist Healthcare-LeBonheur Memphis, TN
Note the website for LeBonheur states; The doors of Le Bonheur will never be found closed and will forever hereafter be open to those who come in need, seeking its help.", Mrs. Howard Pritchard, President, Le Bonheur Club, June 15, 1952. Let's hope that the testimony of Mr. Duncan will reflect the website.
Gary Perizzo, Office of Finance, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Note the VUMC website states the Vision of its Community Initiatives is that, over time, Nashvillians will enjoy a safer, more attractive living environment; better schools; broader job opportunities; and greater access to health care as a result of their relationship with VUMC.
This sounds great any more questions?
August 09, 2006
Immigrants’ Health Care Costs are Low
Press Release; CONTACT: Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP);
Sarita A. Mohanty, M.D. (323) 226-5579 (office)
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D. (617) 312-0970 (cell)
Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D. (917) 899-5403 (pager)
Nicholas Skala (312) 782-6006 (office)
BOSTON - July 25, 2005 - Immigrants in the U.S. receive surprisingly little health care - 55% less than native-born Americans -according to a Harvard/Columbia University study that appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Immigrant children received particularly low levels of care, 74% less overall than other children.
According to the study, immigrants accounted for 10.4% of the U.S. population, but only 7.9% of total health spending, and only 8% of government health spending. Per capita health expenditures averaged $1,139 per immigrant vs. $2,564 for non-immigrants. 30% of immigrants used no healthcare at all in the course of a year.
Most immigrants had health insurance coverage. Though uninsured immigrants used the least health care of any group - 61% less than US-born persons who were uninsured - even immigrants with coverage used 52% less health care than insured non-immigrants.
Immigrant children received far less care in doctors’ offices (71% less than non-immigrant children) and received 72% less prescription medications. Immigrant children had a significantly lower average number of emergency room visits than non-immigrant children. However, their emergency room costs - $45 per child - were nearly three times greater – suggesting that immigrant children forewent care until becoming very ill.
The study is the first nationwide analysis of immigrants’ health care expenditures. The researchers analyzed data on 21,241 people in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s 1998 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which collects detailed health spending data on a representative cross-section of Americans. They used statistical techniques to adjust comparisons between immigrants and non-immigrants for differences between the two groups in age, race/ ethnicity income, health status, and insurance status.
Dr. Sarita Mohanty, who led the study while she was at Harvard and is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California, commented: “Our study lays to rest the myth that expensive care for immigrants is responsible for our nation’s high health costs. The truth is, immigrants get far less care than other Americans. Further restricting their eligibility for care would save little money and place many immigrants – particularly children – at grave risk. Already, many immigrant children fail to get regular checkups, and as a result more end up needing emergency care, or get no care at all.”
“Our data indicates that many immigrants are actually helping to subsidize care for the rest of us. Immigrant families are paying taxes – including Medicare payroll taxes - and most pay health insurance premiums, but they’re getting only half as much care as other families.” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a study co-author and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.
According to study co-author Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons: “Latino immigrants had the lowest health expenditures - $962 per person - half those of US-born Latinos ($1,870) and less than one third those of US-born whites ($3,117). The future economic success of the United States depends on a healthy immigrant workforce. Our findings suggest an urgent need for partnerships between health organizations and community groups to improve access to care, particularly for minority immigrants. This study shows that a national health program that includes all immigrants would cost much less than is widely assumed.”
August 08, 2006
Contact your Representatives to Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Contact your Representatives to Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Both the House and Senate have passed very different immigration bills.
The Senate bill, S. 2611, is a good bipartisan blueprint for addressing both the security and economic needs of the country. The bill would increase border security and interior enforcement. It creates a new temporary worker program that would match an employer with a willing foreign worker when no U.S. workers can be found. This new program is critical for employers, particularly for industries that are already facing labor shortages. The bill also implements a way to deal with the estimated 12 million, allowing certain undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. to obtain legal status after meeting strict criteria. The bill still needs improvements, but currently provides the best framework for going forward.
The House bill, H.R. 4437, on the other hand, is very hard on the employer community. It mandates a massive new employer electronic/ telephonic government-run verification system, with huge increases in civil and criminal penalties. The verification system would apply to the entire workforce of over 7 million employers, and would require the re-verification of 140 million existing employees.
These two very different bills will now have to be negotiated into one bill, which will be a difficult endeavor. It is imperative that members of the House hear from business that any immigration reform needs to be comprehensive. The Chamber has long advanced comprehensive reform that secures our borders, creates an employment verification system that is fast and reliable, includes a temporary worker program that meets the current and future demand for workers, and provides avenues for certain undocumented workers to achieve legal status and ultimately permanent residency, provided strict criteria are met. Tell your Representative that we need comprehensive immigration reform legislation now.
If you have any questions, contact us at EWIC@uschamber.com.
August 07, 2006
Reaching the H-1B Master's Cap Shows Need for Visa Reform
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday August 1, 2006, Contact George Tzamaras (202)216-2410
Another Cap Hit - Underscores the Need for Visa Reform
20,000 Slots Reserved for U.S. Advanced Degree Graduates Exhausted
Washington, D.C. - On July 28th, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, as of July 26th, it had received enough H-1B petitions for "foreign workers who have earned a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education" to meet the exemption limit of 20,000 established by Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2007. This is on top of having reached the overall H-1B cap of 65,000 on May 6, more than four months before the start of the fiscal year.
U.S. companies need high-skilled, specialized workers to stay competitive in the global marketplace. Allowing foreign-born, U.S.-educated workers to work for a U.S. company fuels the ability of U.S. companies to stay at the forefront of scientific research and innovation.
Both the House and Senate have introduced the Securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership Bill, ("SKIL Bill", S.2691/H.R. 5744), a measure that would provide much needed reform to the H-1B visa system.
"Passage and enactment of the SKIL Bill would fix the broken H-1B system," said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, president of AILA. "History has shown that highly educated foreign-born professionals bring great benefits to the U.S. economy and we urge Congress to act on this critical issue."
Highlights of the SKIL Bill include the following:
• Exemptions for U.S.-educated foreign workers with master's or higher degrees from the H-1B and employment based (EB) green card quotas so their talent can be retained in the United States.
• Creation of a flexible, market-based H-1B cap so that U.S. employers are not locked out of hiring critical talent for over a year at a time.
• Extension of foreign students' post-graduation practical training from 12 months to 24 months.
• Removal of EB immigrant spouses and children from the annual cap, thus making more visas available for the innovative professionals we need.
Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, professional services and expertise through its 35 chapters and over 75 national committees. AILA also advocates before Congress and the Administration, as well as providing liaison with the DHS and other government agencies in support of pro-immigration initiatives. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association and is represented in the ABA House of Delegates.
Consulate in Singapore Addresses H-1B1 Fees, Equivalencies
Just in from AILA;
In response to email inquiries from AILA member Naomi Schorr, the U.S. consulate in Singapore has provided the following information about the fees for filing for an H-1B1 under the Singapore Free Trade Agreement, and about the standards for a degree equivalency under the Agreement.
With respect to the fees, the consulate stated:
"The fees are the same for all visa types, S$170, payable with a Cashier's Order to 'American Embassy, Singapore.'… The H1B fees do not apply (those fees are payable in the US when the I-129 is filed - an I-129 is not required for the H1B1)…."
With respect to degree equivalencies, Ms. Schorr inquired whether the post recognizes the USCIS formulation of three years of experience for one year of formal education. The consulate responded:
"Yes, we do recognize the 3 for 1 formula however; the alien must demonstrate progressively responsible experience and a level of knowledge sufficient to show 'theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge.' Also, depending on the position, the alien may also have to show more than '3 for 1' if the industry standard for the position would require an advanced degree (i.e. law degree, master’s degree, etc)."
August 06, 2006
Study Finds Disparities in Judges’ Asylum Rulings
This article shows the diffence in rulings by immigration judges on asylum cases;
"By Rachel L. Swarns, the New York Times, July 31, 2006
Washington - An examination of thousands of immigration cases has found wide disparities in the rate at which judges grant asylum to people seeking haven in the United States, according to a study released Sunday by a private research group.
One judge in Miami denied 96.7 percent of the asylum cases before him in which the petitioner had a lawyer. It was the highest denial rate in the nation between the beginning of the fiscal year 2000 and the first few months of fiscal year 2005, the study found. In contrast, a New York judge granted asylum in all but 9.8 percent of such cases.
Ten percent of the nation’s immigration judges denied asylum cases in 86 percent or more of their decisions, while another 10 percent of judges denied asylum cases in 34 percent of their rulings during that same time period, the study found.
The report, which examined 297,240 immigration cases from fiscal year 1994 through the first few months of fiscal year 2005, was done by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group connected to Syracuse University. The data was collected from the Justice Department, which oversees the nation’s immigration courts".
August 05, 2006
Building a Competitive Workforce: Immigration and the U.S. Manufacturing Sector
A new report from David Bartlett, Ph.D. and the Immigration Policy Center reveals that shortages of skilled labor constitute the foremost challenge confronting U.S. manufacturers who face growing competition from manufacturers in Asia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere. Demand for professionals with university degrees is rising as manufacturing becomes increasingly high tech. But the U.S. educational system is not producing enough highly educated native-born manufacturing workers to meet this growing demand. Moreover, the pending retirements of Baby Boom generation workers will further constrain the growth of the manufacturing labor force. Bridging this gap between the supply and demand for skilled workers requires new investments in the U.S. educational system and the formulation of immigration policies that respond to the labor needs of the U.S. economy. Yet current immigration policies, especially since 9/11, have made it more difficult for highly skilled professionals from abroad to enter the United States.
August 04, 2006
Local Immigration Conferences and Events in North Carolina
The following local immigration conferences and events may be of interest to you. These listings are intended to provide you with information and are not intended as an endorsement of any particular event or group.
Exploring the Economic Impact of North Carolina's Hispanic Population
Luncheon Series - State Tour, Location and Times below
CONTACT: Ms. Grace Sampson at the NCBA (1-800-662-7044 or email@example.com).
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, in conjunction with North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry and the North Carolina Bankers Association, will conduct a series of luncheon gatherings to be held across the state this summer. Each session will include:
• A review by one of the co-authors of The Economic Impact of the Hispanic Population on the State of North Carolina, by John D. Kasarda and James H. Johnson, Jr. of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise of the Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC Chapel Hill
• A panel discussion of the implications and ramifications of the data presented in the Kenan Institute research
• Interaction among luncheon participants exploring the decisions with which policy makers will be confronted as they are called upon to respond to the dramatic changes being wrought upon our state by the explosive growth in the Hispanic population.
Business, civic, and community leaders are invited to participate at no cost, but space is limited and advance registration is essential.
Dates, Times, and Locations:
Tuesday, August 15; Durham, Millennium Hotel, 2800 Campus Walk Avenue
Wednesday, August 30; Charlotte, Hilton University Place, 8629 J.M. Keynes Drive
Thursday, September 7; Fayetteville, Holiday Inn, 1944 Cedar Creek Road
Wednesday, September 27, Asheville, Renaissance Hotel, 1 Thomas Wolfe Plaza
Tuesday, October 31, Greenville, Hilton, 207 S.W. Greenville Boulevard
U.S. Visas - Lebanese Citizens
Embassy Beirut is temporarily closed, for all visa applications, interviews and processing.
U.S. Embassy Athens will begin visa processing for Lebanese citizens as follows:
Beginning August 1, Lebanese citizens applying for F, H, J, L, M O, or P nonimmigrant visas can schedule interview appointments through the Embassy Athens website or, if they are in Greece, through the user-pays call center at 90-11-230-730.
Beginning August 1, Lebanese citizens who have an immigrant petition approved for them, and are awaiting interview should address their inquiries to U.S. Embassy Athens, via e-mail at Athens-IV-Lebanon@state.gov.
If you have already applied for your immigrant visa at Embassy Beirut, you should inquire through the e-mail at Athens-IV-Lebanon@state.gov about whether your case can be transferred to Athens for processing.
August 03, 2006
Time and place of horse & pony show by Republicans in U.S. Congress
City: Brentwood, TN
Date: August 10
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: Main Room at the Brentwood City Hall, 5211 Maryland Way
Committee: House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health
Additional information: Subject of hearing is "What is the impact of the Reid-Kennedy bill's amnesty provisions on the health care delivery system and for individual American taxpayers?"
August 02, 2006
CA1 Finds IJ’s Denial of Motion to Rescind In Absentia Removal Order Based on an Error of Law
Kaweesa v. Gonzales (1st Cir., June 9, 2006)
For purposes of rescinding an in absentia removal order under INA §240(b)(5)(c)(i), the IJ's failure to consider the "totality of the circumstances" in evaluating "exceptional circumstances" is an error of law.
In October 1997, Petitioner filed a request for asylum, withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture, claiming past persecution by the Ugandan government on account of her religion and human rights activism. The asylum office referred her case to the immigration judge and ordered Petitioner to appear for a hearing on May 13, 1999. Petitioner failed to appear for the hearing and the IJ issued an in absentia removal order. On May 19, 1999, Petitioner filed a pro se motion to reopen her removal proceedings, explaining that she did not appear in court on May 13, 1999 because she had confused the dates and thought her hearing was scheduled for May 17, 1999. The IJ denied the motion, finding that Petitioner had not demonstrated "exceptional circumstances" which would have warranted reopening the case under INA §240(b)(5)(c)(i). The BIA affirmed the IJ's decision without opinion.
Over the course of the next few years, Petitioner filed two additional motions to reopen with the BIA (attaching newly discovered evidence in support of her request for asylum and alleging changed country conditions in Uganda), both of which were denied. She also filed a petition for habeas review with the district court, which argued that the IJ erred in failing to consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding her first motion to reopen and that the BIA's denial of her motions violated her due process rights. On November 18, 2004, the district court held that while it had jurisdiction to review the denial of Petitioner's first motion to reopen, it would transfer the case to the court of appeals for review of the Board's denial of the third motion in accordance with 28 USC §1631 and Arevola v. Ashcroft, 344 F.3d 1, 16 (1st Cir. 2003).
On May 11, 2005, the REAL ID Act took effect and stripped the district court of jurisdiction over Petitioner's remaining habeas claim. Section 106(c) of the REAL ID Act required all district court cases challenging final orders of removal to be transferred to the appropriate court of appeals. Thus, in addition to direct review of Petitioner's third motion to reopen, the court of appeals became vested with the authority to review the IJ's denial of the first motion to reopen.
The court began by noting that under the INA, as amended by the REAL ID Act, it did not have jurisdiction to review discretionary decisions or factual determinations. Mehilli v. Gonzales, 433 F.3d 86, 93 (1st Cir. 2005). However, INA §242(a)(2)(D), which was added by the REAL ID Act, permits jurisdiction over constitutional claims or questions of law. Therefore, the court concluded, to the extent a denial of a motion to reopen constitutes an error of law or a violation of constitutional rights, jurisdiction to review those issues is retained.
An in absentia removal order may be rescinded upon a motion to reopen filed within 180 days of the date of the removal order upon demonstration that the person failed to appear due to "exceptional circumstances." INA §240(b)(5)(C)(i). In reviewing such a motion, the IJ must look at the "totality of the circumstances." Herbert v. Ashcroft, 325 F.3d 68, 70 (1st Cir. 2003). Factors which may be considered include: the timeliness of the motion, the effort made to contact the immigration court, the quality of supporting documentation, the strength of the underlying request for relief, the harm suffered if the motion is denied and the inconvenience to the government if the motion is granted. In re B-A-S, 22 I&N Dec. 57, 58-59 (BIA 1998); Singh v. INS, 295 F.3d 1037, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 2002); Barseghian v. INS, 14 Fed. Appx. 806, 807-08 (9th Cir. 2001).
The court noted that the principles of "notice" and "exceptional circumstances" are derived from the due process requirements of removal proceedings. "Where an alien misses a hearing due to lack of notice or exceptional circumstances, due process concerns, i.e., the right to notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard, are implicated." It went on to state that removal from the United States visits great hardship on an individual and that these concerns are magnified in cases involving a request for protection from persecution through a grant of asylum, withholding of removal or CAT relief.
The court stated that the evidence indicated that the IJ failed to consider any factors at all when reviewing Petitioner's motion to reopen. Therefore, the court embarked upon its own analysis of the "totality of the circumstances" and first concluded that there was no indication that Petitioner intentionally missed her hearing to delay proceedings: she went to the court immediately after receiving her in absentia removal order, she filed a pro se motion to reopen proceedings just a few days later, and she had asked her employer for a day off on May 17, the date she thought she was supposed to appear in court. Furthermore, the court reiterated the facts alleged by Petitioner in her request for relief--that she was raped by Ugandan security forces, that her husband, parents and brother were killed, and that her son was beaten-and concluded that the harm of returning to Uganda without a hearing was potentially great. Finally, the court stated that because the hearing was only the first scheduled appearance in court, prejudice to the government was insignificant.
The court held that the IJ did not consider the totality of the circumstances and committed an error of law in denying Petitioner's first motion to reopen. Based upon its own review of the facts, the court determined that Petitioner demonstrated exceptional circumstances and that her motion to reopen should have been granted. The court reversed the BIA's denial of Petitioner's motion and remanded the case for a hearing before the IJ on the merits.
August 01, 2006
U.S. Puts Onus on Employers of Immigrants
Here is an article detailing new enforcement tactics by ICE;
By Julia Preston, New York Times; Published: July 31, 2006
"Cincinnati, July 30 — Immigration agents had prepared a nasty surprise for the Garcia Labor Company, a temporary worker contractor, when they moved against it on charges of hiring illegal immigrants. They brought a 40-count federal indictment, part of a new nationwide strategy by immigration officials to clamp down on employers of illegal immigrant laborers.
Maximino Garcia, the president of the company, which provides low-wage laborers to businesses from Pennsylvania to Texas, stood before a federal judge here on Tuesday to answer conspiracy charges of aiding illegal immigrants and money laundering. If convicted, Mr. Garcia, who pleaded not guilty, could serve 20 years in jail and forfeit his headquarters building and $12 million.
The criminal charges against Mr. Garcia and his company were brought by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security. The campaign has included at least five other federal indictments of business executives in Ohio and Kentucky and has sent payroll managers rushing to re-examine their workers’ papers and rethink plans for their work force".