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November 30, 2006

Bush seeks unity on immigration; Reaches out to Democrats to craft new bill

By Rick Klein, Globe Staff, November 27, 2006

“WASHINGTON -- The White House is reaching out to leading congressional Democrats on the issue of overhauling immigration, hoping to build a bipartisan coalition to support a "guest worker" program and provide a path to legalized status for many undocumented immigrants, lawmakers and administration officials said.

President Bush has expressed an eagerness to work with Democrats on the issue in private meetings with lawmakers and in public statements, as he seeks to strike a new tone with Democrats who will be in control of Congress for the final two years of his presidency.
The president's interest in the issue is getting a warm reception from members of both parties in Congress, particularly in the Senate, where a bill reflecting the president's priorities passed this year only to die in negotiations with the House.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who is set to take the chairmanship of the subcommittee that oversees immigration issues, has already met with leading Republicans -- including Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee's top Republican -- to begin crafting a new bill early next year. "The dynamics are right," said Kennedy, who worked closely with McCain and others on the immigration bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. "With a new Congress, we have an opportunity to pass our plan to secure our borders, uphold our laws, and strengthen our economy."

Kennedy and the other lawmakers are planning a broader meeting this week of about 12 leading senators from both parties. They are hoping to have Congress vote on a final immigration bill by mid-2007, according to congressional aides.

Though no specific proposals have been floated, the bill passed this year by the Senate is a likely starting point, aides said…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:27 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2006

Border group's finances scrutinized

By SUSAN CARROLL, Nov. 25, 2006, Houston Chronicle;

"2005 BUDGET
• Revenues: $418,493
• Expenditures: $449,667
Program services: $280,920, or 62.47%
Management: $23,348, or 5.19%
Fundraising: $145,399, or 32.34%
• Deficit: $31,174

Source: Minuteman Civil Defense Corps
For the first time, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps has revealed a smattering of intriguing details on its finances, but some former Texas members say they're still not sure how the group has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributors' money.
Chris Simcox, founder of the nonprofit border watch group, posted IRS forms and an audit on his Internet site Nov. 15 in response to media reports raising concerns about how the organization was handling its contributions.
The new documents offer a glimpse into the group's finances, former Minuteman loyalists say, but leave unanswered questions. Among them: How is the group spending thousands of dollars in membership fees they've collected in the past 19 months? And what companies or other nonprofits received $277,000 — amounting to more than half the group's contributions in 2005 — for unspecified "personnel services?"
Already, questions about the group's finances and other concerns have prompted some leaders to quit. Bill Parmley, the former head of the Texas chapter of MCDC, was one of the first leaders to leave in July 2005.
"There were just too many irregularities," Parmley said in an interview. "I just didn't want to be involved in something like that."
Simcox and his spokeswoman, Connie Hair, did not respond to repeated phone calls or messages...".

Chronicle reporters Terri Langford and Chase Davis contributed to this report.


at; http://www.chron.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:17 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2006

Immigration Reform Gains Momentum

Vida en el Valle, News Analysis, Martha Ramirez, Juan Esparza Loera, and Vicki Adame, Nov 23, 2006;

"...Douglas Rivlin, director of communications of the Immigration Forum, believes there are lessons to be learned from the election.

"The hard line of anti-immigration rhetoric failed for the Republicans," said Rivlin. "Anti-immigration Republicans thought it would be better to attack the issue rather than trying to solve it."

Unlike Arellano, Rivlin says he doesn't see how the Democrats taking power in Congress is a gain toward a possible immigration reform.

"It's not a slam dunk," he says. "Both parties need to work together to solve the problems in the U.S."

Despite the Republicans' loss of almost 30 Congressional seats, Alejandro Burgos, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, defends the party, saying it did everything possible to address the immigration issue.

"The House felt that before any other (immigration) program could be offered the borders needed to be secured," Burgos said. "How the (immigration) debate will unfold depends on what the Democrats put forth and that is yet to be seen."

Exit polls released after the election showed that 57 percent of voters support a reform that would give working undocumented immigrants an opportunity to stay in the country.

"We're optimistic it (the democrats taking control of Congress) will bring some type of immigration reform," said Marc Grossman, principal spokesman of the United Farm Workers. "Things were certainly stalled before the election."

During a stop in Fresno last Thursday, UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta said plenty of work needs to be done before immigration reform is completed.

"We just need to make sure we have everybody on board," said Huerta, who added that Republicans who refused to compromise on immigration reform were swept from office.

Among those, she said, was incumbent Congressman J.D. Hayworth, a Republican, held a hard line against immigration and was upset.

"He wasn't expected to lose. The fact that this one Congressman had immigration as his only issue, in a conservative district, I think, sends a strong message for the Republicans."

According to Immigration2006.org, Democrats who supported a comprehensive solution to immigration won throughout the country at the federal and state level...".


Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2006

A Border Watcher Finds Himself Under Scrutiny

By Randal C. Archibold, The New York Times; published: November 24, 2006

"For years, Roger Barnett has holstered a pistol to his hip, tucked an assault rifle in his truck and set out over the scrub brush on his thousands of acres of ranchland near the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona to hunt.

Hunt illegal immigrants, that is, often chronicled in the news.
“They’re flooding across, invading the place,” Mr. Barnett told the ABC program “Nightline” this spring. “They’re going to bring their families, their wives, and they’re going to bring their kids. We don’t need them.”

But now, after boasting of having captured 12,000 illegal crossers on land he owns or leases from the state and emerging as one of the earliest and most prominent of the self-appointed border watchers, Mr. Barnett finds himself the prey.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages.
The court actions are the latest example of attempts by immigrant rights groups to curb armed border-monitoring groups by going after their money, if not their guns. They have won civil judgments in Texas, and this year two illegal Salvadoran immigrants who had been held against their will took possession of a 70-acre ranch in southern Arizona after winning a case last year.

The Salvadorans had accused the property owner, Casey Nethercott, a former leader of the Ranch Rescue group, of menacing them with a gun in 2003. Mr. Nethercott was convicted of illegal gun possession; the Salvadorans plan to sell the property, their lawyer has said.
But Mr. Barnett, known for dressing in military garb and caps with insignia resembling the United States Border Patrol’s, represents a special prize to the immigrant rights groups. He is ubiquitous on Web sites, mailings and brochures put out by groups monitoring the Mexican border and, with family members, was an inspiration for efforts like the Minutemen civilian border patrols.

“The Barnetts, probably more than any people in this country, are responsible for the vigilante movement as it now exists,” said Mark Potok, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the groups. “They were the recipients of so much press coverage and they kept boasting, and it was out of those boasts that the modern vigilante movement sprang up.”

Jesus Romo Vejar, the lawyer for the hunting party, said their court victory Wednesday would serve notice that mistreating immigrants would not pass unpunished. Although the hunters were not in the United States illegally, they contended that Mr. Barnett’s treatment of them reflected his attitude and practices toward Latinos crossing his land, no matter what their legal status…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2006

Survey finds international travelers put off by U.S. immigration practices

Expo Magazine;

“International travelers rate America's entry process as the “world's worst” by more than a 2:1 margin, according to a survey sponsored by the Discover America Partnership and conducted by research company RT Strategies. “These survey results help to explain the 17 percent decline in overseas travel to the United States over the past five years and the 10 percent decline in business travel to the United States over the past year,” says Thomas Riehle, Partner, RT Strategies.

In addition, 54 percent of travelers from abroad report that American immigration officials were rude, and two-thirds of travelers surveyed fear they'll be detained at the border because of a simple mistake or misstatement.

“Foreign travelers are in agreement: The U.S. entry process is unpredictable and unfriendly to foreign visitors. It's hurting America's image abroad and deterring many from visiting the United States,” says Riehle.

The Discover America Partnership is a coalition of hospitality executives, as well as representatives of business in America. Geoff Freeman, Executive Director of the partnership, says in focus groups conducted before the survey, participants told stories of doing business in other markets because of the excessive barriers to obtaining visas to go on buying trips in the United States. Others expressed fears that the slightest human error on an entry form would cause them to be interrogated or detained by customs officials.

“None of us are there at the airport. This survey has to do with perceptions,” says Freeman. “It doesn't matter if this isn't true if it's the perception.”…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2006

A Wedge Too Far

The immigration issue didn't work by Tamar Jacoby 11/20/2006, Volume 012, Issue 10

"TURN ON A TELEVISION anywhere in America last month, and you were sure to come across a campaign ad talking tough about immigration. Democrats and Republicans, in border states and deep in the heartland: Everybody was doing it, and the spots were among the harshest of the campaign season. The A-word--amnesty--was a staple. So were calls for cracking down on the border. And there could be no mistaking the mood, or rather the two parties' shared assumption about the public's mood. The only question was whether Republicans would succeed in riding that anger to victory on Election Day--whether immigration would indeed be the wedge issue of the 2006 midterms.

No one knows how much money was spent on these ads or the websites and mailers that went with them. But the candidates might as well have poured their dollars down a drain. Long before the votes were counted, tracking polls showed that the issue wasn't "working"--wasn't energizing voters or closing the gap between Democratic frontrunners and their GOP opponents. The worse things grew in closely contested races, the more desperately many failing Republicans tried to play the "illegal" card: Rep. Bob Beauprez running for governor in Colorado, Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, and some dozen struggling Republican congressional candidates in the Midwest and Southwest were among the shrillest. But the gambit didn't work. In race after race, even Democrats under attack managed to maintain or increase their leads. And by Election Night, the conventional wisdom of October lay in

Immigration was the dog that didn't bark. It did not prove an effective wedge issue. And as far as could be determined, it decided few if any contests. No congressional or gubernatorial candidate otherwise poised to win was defeated primarily because of his or her views on immigration. No more than one or two, if that many, struggling to catch up managed to ride it to victory. And the most stridently restrictionist candidate in the country, Arizona congressional hopeful Randy Graf, who ran a campaign based almost entirely on immigrant-bashing, went down in flaming defeat.

This wasn't for lack of trying by immigration naysayers--activists, candidates, or the Republican party establishment. The GOP leadership, particularly in the House, started planning their wedge campaign over a year ago. The party's cooler heads--in this case, the president, Sen. Bill Frist, Sen. John McCain, and the 21 other Republicans who voted for the Senate's bipartisan reform bill--argued strongly against a polarizing approach. Better to grapple with the problem, they urged--what the public wants is a solution. But the wedge players were more interested in political advantage. So instead of working with the Senate to enact law, they spent the spring and summer teeing up the issue for the fall campaign, casting a problem that in fact divides both parties as a contest between monolithic blocs: tough Republican enforcers and soft Democrat reformers...".


Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2006

Signs of Hope on Immigration

Editorial in New York Times, published: November 20, 2006

“The political earthquake in Washington has knocked loose some of the big obstacles to fixing the immigration system. A decent solution is now there for the taking, if President Bush and the newly Democratic Congress are willing to grab it.

It won’t be easy. Some of the debate’s loudest shouters, liars and dead-horse beaters were ushered by voters from the room — people like J. D. Hayworth and Randy Graf in Arizona, John Hostettler in Indiana and Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. But the public is still in a prickly mood. All those shrill Republican ads about Mexicans stealing your Social Security failed as an electoral strategy, but that doesn’t mean politicians always lose by being immigration hawks. Voters approved tough ballot measures. In Arizona, they made English the official language and restricted illegal immigrants’ ability to sue, receive bail and qualify for benefits.

And except for the losers on the border-fixated fringe, not many in the restrictionist camp seem particularly chastened by the election. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, an opponent of the comprehensive reform bill that passed the Senate this year, won his race, as did several new Democrats who ran as immigration hard-liners. Local lawmakers in Texas and other states are still going after illegal immigrants with fervor.

The roots of a divisive, grinding immigration debate have not gone away. But it is crucial that the Democrats find their voice. The effort to revive immigration reform should start in the Senate. There is a decent bill under the barnacled hulk of legislation that passed the Senate last May. It used to be called McCain-Kennedy, before other senators tacked on tough-posing amendments that made it fundamentally unworkable and unjust. The Senate should strip those away, like the ones that divide immigrants into three arbitrary tiers of worthiness and needlessly force those seeking legal status to trek to a border state to apply for it…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2006

Mom just waits as immigration mood swings

Here is an that gives you time for reflection on Thanksgiving Day;

Article by Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, published November 21, 2006;

“Who'd have thought, back in the summer when TV trucks were bumper to bumper on West Division Street waiting for all hell to break loose at any moment, that Thanksgiving week would come and Elvira Arellano would still be holed up in a storefront church defying a deportation order?

Not me. I predicted an imminent moment of drama to rival the seizure of little Elian Gonzalez six years ago in Miami--drawn guns, gas masks, shouts, screams, tears. The full CNN.

Not Walter "Slim" Coleman, the pastor of the Adalberto Memorial United Methodist Church, which since Aug. 15 has been harboring Arellano, 31, and her 7-year-old son, Saul, who was born in this country and so is a U.S. citizen.

"I was sure that [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers] were going to come after her in the first five or six days," Coleman said.

Not Carlina Tapia-Ruano, Chicago-based president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Immigration enforcement officials "had been heavily criticized all year, all over the country, for failing to enforce our laws and contributing to the large number of undocumented residents," Tapia-Ruano said. "And here they had a clear case of a woman daring them to come and get her."

Even Sun-Times contrarian Neil Steinberg, who challenged my forecast in print and predicted the feds would wait up to two months before acting, bet that the church would deliver Arellano to authorities "before the leaves change."

The clearest crystal ball belonged to those on the other side of the immigration issue from Coleman, Tapia-Ruano and others who believe we should clear a path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding workers who are in this country illegally.

David Gorak, executive director of the Midwest Coalition to Reform Immigration, said he was very skeptical when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman promised that the agency was going to "take action at the time and place of our choosing."

Gorak said, "They knew it would have been like throwing gasoline onto a fire if they went after her. She's wasn't going anywhere, and they had more serious cases to deal with."

"This administration is weak, it lacks resolve," said Rick Biesada, co-founder of the Chicago Minuteman Project. His organization is dedicated to border enforcement, and he said he is disappointed but not at all surprised that Arellano remains an untouched cause celebre. "It probably came down to a political decision," he said.

On that, the opposing sides are in agreement…”


Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2006

AILA Member Yvette Sebelist's Weekly Immigration Radio Program

Immigration In Perspective by Yvette Sebelist - Wednesday Mornings from 9:00 - 10:00 CST

Listen on WRFN-LPFM, Radio Free Nashville 98.9
and at www.radiofreenashville.org

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

Chamber comes out against Metro ‘anti’ immigration plans

By Jared Allen, jallen@nashvillecitypaper.com, November 21, 2006

“Voicing strong opposition to a group of hotly debated immigration bills, The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, along with its new president, Ralph Schulz, has waded into the Metro Council immigration fray.

The Chamber announced that its Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution opposing three immigrant-related legislative measures being considered by the Council – an English-first ordinance, a bill to hold landlords responsible for knowingly renting to illegal immigrants, and one that would punish businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

According to the Chamber, the bills “would negatively impact economic development, position Nashville as non-inclusive and unwelcoming to immigrants, pose enforcement challenges and prove costly for Metro should it be required to defend the constitutionality of such ordinances.“

The bills are scheduled to be heard on second reading at tonight’s Metro City Council meeting.

“Current federal immigration law already contains civic penalties for hiring and harboring undocumented workers. Making a public statement locally is unnecessary and would have a direct and negative effect on Nashville’s ability to attract and retain companies that have a multi-ethnic workforce or customer base,” Schultz said in a Chamber press release…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2006

Chamber takes stance on immigrant-related legislation

Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce - Monday Morning Report

On Thursday, Nov. 16, the Executive Committee of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce unanimously passed a resolution opposing three separate immigrant-related legislative initiatives being considered by Metro Council, Nashville, Tennessee. All three legislative measures will come before Metro Council for second reading on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Collectively, these measures are bad for business, economic development, government and the community. It is paramount that the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, its volunteer leadership, members and partners help the community understand the real and potential negative implications associated with local government assuming responsibility for complex immigration issues that should be addressed at the federal level. The Chamber encourages every member who lives and/or operates a business in Davidson County to call or e-mail your Metro Council representative to voice the Chamber position before Tuesday, Nov. 21.

View Chamber resolution at www.nashvillechamber.com

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

November 20, 2006

America: Wake Up on Immigration

Here is an article which lays out clearly the need for high tech workers in the U.S.;

OPINION By Sonia Arrison, TechNewsWorld
11/17/06 4:00 AM PT


”…The message entrepreneurs are collectively sending was summed up nicely by Sun Microsystems' cofounder Scott McNealy earlier this year. There are many talented people, he said, "who want to come here and live the American dream, and be part of the American economy. If they can't get in, they're still smart, and they are still going to set up shop somewhere else."

It would be stupid to let some other country take the planet's best and brightest so that they can compete with the United States. Indeed, one of the core strengths of America has been the willingness to accept others with open arms. That's not to say there are not talented people who were born here -- only that it is foolish to barricade ourselves from those who can help the country prosper.

The next time immigration comes up -- and it will, because Congress has not settled the issue -- policy makers and those who support them should look closer at the facts. There are many immigrants who create American jobs and wealth. U.S. policy should reflect that truth if Americans want to stay on top of the world's economic scene in the future”.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2006

Learn History First

There is a resolution in Nashville, TN which seeks to make English first. This resolution is being sponsored by Councilman Eric Crafton who is fluent in English and Japanese and married to a woman from Japan; go figure?

Here is my response to his editorial in the Tennessean where he places the blame for the fall of Rome on multilingualism and multiculturalism. http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061119/OPINION03/611190358/1054

Mario's response;
The fall of Rome occurred because it could not raise an army; the people no longer believed in the idea of Rome. After hundreds of years of corruption and abuse the people did want to fight for Rome. For centuries Rome flourished with a multitude of languages, diversity of people and ideals. Revisionist would have us believe that Rome only allowed one language, one culture. Rome was not only bilingual; it was multi-lingual. Before we pass English first we should learn History first. Or we will repeat the same mistakes.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2006

Feds Redesign Citizenship Exam

By Melissa Trujillo 11.13.06, Associated Press

“In an effort to make the citizenship exam more meaningful, the federal government said Monday it will test an exam that relies less on trivia - such as asking the name of the president's house - and more on applicants' grasp of American democracy.

The new exam will be given to volunteers beginning this winter in Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Denver; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Miami; San Antonio; Tucson, Ariz.; and Yakima, Wash.

The current test is heavy on historical facts, and includes questions about the colors of the U.S. flag and the name of the form used to apply for citizenship. The new exam will ask about the Bill of Rights and the meaning of democracy.

"The idea is not to toss up roadblocks, it's to make sure people who apply for citizenship and want to become citizens understand and adhere to the values we have as a society, the values that are part of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights," said Shawn Saucier, spokesman for the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The current exam doesn't guarantee knowledge of those values, Saucier said. A person may know which state was the 49th to be added to the union, for example, but not understand voting rights, he said.
The portion of the citizenship exam used to test basic English reading and writing skills also will be changed to include civic vocabulary words, Saucier said.

"We want them to study and look at this information not toward the eye of memorizing it for a trivia exam," he said.

During the pilot, officials hope to work out any problems with the test and refine the exam. The revised test will be given to all applicants for naturalization beginning in 2008…”.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2006

New Estimates of Undocumented Youth Eligible for Legal Status under the DREAM Act

In October 2006, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) released a study providing new estimates of the impact passage of Dream Act legislation would have on undocumented youth in the United States. The DREAM Act, introduced as a stand-alone bill in both the House (H.R. 5131) and Senate (S. 2075), and incorporated into the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S.2611), offers undocumented youth a path to conditional legal status if they arrived in the United States before age 16, have been in the country for five continuous years, and have graduated from high school or obtained a GED. Conditional legal residents who attend college or join the military within the six years of their conditional status would then become eligible for permanent legal status.

The study, conducted by Michael Fix and Jeanne Batalova of MPI, employs a wide array of primary and secondary source material to study the impact that passage of the Dream Act would have, and concludes "enactment would immediately make 360,000 unauthorized high school graduates aged 18 to 24 eligible for conditional legal status," with about 279,000 of these individuals eventually converting from conditional to permanent legal status. Furthermore, the MPI study estimates that "about 715,000 undocumented youth between ages 5 and 17 would become eligible for conditional and then permanent legal status under the proposed legislation sometime in the future." Finally, the report adds that those in conditional legal status would have tremendous incentive to make significant, positive contributions to the United States by finishing high school (or earning a GED if the person has dropped out) and either pursuing a college education or enrolling in the military, since their conditional status expires after six years and they cannot adjust from conditional to legal status unless one of these conditions (college or the military) are met.

For more of the report's findings, please read the full text on the MPI website.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2006

Senate Democrats Choose New Leadership, More Elections to Follow

Senate Democrats chose a slate of leaders for the 110th Congress, electing Harry Reid (D-NV) as majority leader and Richard Durbin (D-Il) as majority whip. Senate leadership also announced plans to replace Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) with the committee's current ranking democratic member, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Within the Judiciary Committee, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), currently the ranking democrat on the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, will likely take over chairmanship of the immigration subcommittee from Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

House Democrats have scheduled leadership elections for this Thursday, when Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will likely be nominated as the Democratic choice for Speaker of the House for the 110th Congress. Also on the House side, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) is expected to replace Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, while chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims will go to either ranking democrat Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) or Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2006

Dems must pick point person before immigration debate

By Bill Swindell, CongressDaily, November 10, 2006

“The Democratic takeover of Congress might revive chances for passing a comprehensive immigration package that would include a pathway to citizenship for most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Democrats have been more amenable to such legislation than congressional Republicans, even though President Bush has pushed for such a measure. But first, House Democrats must decide who will be their policy point person -- the Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee chairman -- to shepherd a bill though the House. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, is ranking member of the panel, though there is speculation that Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., might pursue the chairmanship.

Lofgren is ranking member of the Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee. Jackson Lee and Lofgren have the same House seniority; both were elected in 1994. According to one lobbyist, Jackson Lee's positions on the issue have shifted at times, making her a problematic negotiator.

The lobbyist noted that Lofgren is a former immigration lawyer who taught the subject at the University of Santa Clara and has worked with Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., on legislation that would expand the allotment of H1-B visas for high-tech workers.

"She [Lofgren] is very knowledge about the details on how to make the immigration system functionable on the ground," said Ben Johnson, director of immigration policy center at the American Immigration Law Foundation.

House Democrats probably would have to work with Republicans such as Dreier, and Reps. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Chris Cannon of Utah to move legislation because some of their newly elected members -- such as Reps.-elect Brad Ellsworth of Indiana and Heath Shuler of North Carolina -- took harder-line stances on immigration during their campaign.

House Republicans also must select a ranking member for the panel, as Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman John Hostettler of Indiana lost to Ellsworth…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2006

Boy lobbies in Mexico to stop mom's deportation

Here is an article which shows how current immigration law forces families to break the law. The United States is one of the few countries in the world which allows deportation of parents of its U.S. citizen children;

Associated Press, November 14, 2006 Mexico City

“When reporters caught up with him Monday, seven-year-old Saul Arellano still didn't know what he was going to say to members of Mexico's Congress when he addresses them today.

The Chicago boy will be talking to politicians in his mother's native country about the family's fight to keep her from being deported.
After spending yesterday in jeans, he said he plans to dress up in a new tan suit today.

The second-grader is a U-S citizen, but his mother, Elvira, is an undocumented Mexican migrant.

The two have been living at the Adalberto United Methodist Church on Chicago's West Side since August, when they took refuge there to avoid her deportation…”.

At; http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4755886

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2006

AILA Urges Congress to Act Swiftly to Complete a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Plan

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

CONTACT: George Tzamaras; gtzamaras@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC - After the dust settles on this election, one hard fact will remain unchanged: America continues to suffer from a failing immigration system. With electoral posturing temporarily quieted, we urge the new Congress to act swiftly and complete work on a fair, practical immigration reform plan.

The Senate started us down the right path last spring, with the historic debate on and passage of a bipartisan bill, S. 2611. But House leadership stymied that effort and the legislation remains stalled. The new Congress must overcome this impasse and construct a realistic immigration system that meets the needs of our economy, our families, and our national security.

"We have families waiting decades to be reunited, businesses unable to access the labor and talent they need to grow and compete, and lawlessness on our borders," said AILA President, Carlina Tapia-Ruano. "Why? Because political gridlock has prevented us from updating our immigration policies to meet the realities of 21st century America." And now, a giant impediment to meaningful reform of our immigration system has been dislodged. No longer can it be argued that support for practical, comprehensive reform is political suicide. To the contrary, the tired message of "seal the borders" and the inflammatory battle cry of "repel the hordes" failed miserably for anti-immigration candidates around the country.

"The rigid, impractical position on undocumented immigration set forth by hardliners failed to connect with voters," said Ms. Tapia-Ruano. "Americans want a comprehensive approach to immigration reform; over and over, public opinion polls indicate that over 70 percent of Americans favor a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship and a guest worker program."

President Bush opined today that there is a "good chance" the next Congress can pass comprehensive reform, which he characterized as "an issue where I believe we can find some common ground with the Democrats." We agree. A practical solution to our immigration woes is at hand; now all the new Congress has to do is seize it.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

For more information contact George Tzamaras at 202-216-2410 or Brooke Hewson at 202-216-2435.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2006


© 2006 The Daily Journal Corporation.

"November 10, 2006

By Sandra Hernandez, Los Angeles Daily Journal Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES - President George W. Bush may feel like Republicans got a thumping this week, but his party's loss may signal a victory for a White House-backed immigration reform package to move through Congress.

"This is the best environment we have had in quite some time for some kind of comprehensive immigration reform," said Celinda Lake, a political strategist in Washington, D.C.

Lake and others are cautiously optimistic that Tuesday's election will allow lawmakers in Congress to rewrite immigration measures and convince Republicans that anti-immigrant rhetoric cost them votes with Latinos.

This week's vote saw Democrats gain control of both houses of Congress. Along with a majority, Democrats will take over chairmanships of the committees that oversee immigration.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., will step down as the chair of the Judiciary Committee. He will be replaced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., considered a supporter of a broad comprehensive bill. Sensenbrenner was the author of the controversial bill that sought to criminalize illegal immigrants and build a 700-mile fence along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee will be headed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Ver. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., one of the biggest supporters of earned legalization will head the subcommittee on immigration.

And with the new faces will come a new urgency for immigration reform, according to some lawmakers.

"I think there is a green light to move forward with immigration reform," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and a outspoken supporter of broader reform...".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2006

After Election, Can U.S. Reform Its Immigration System?

After Nov. 7, it will make enormous political sense for all sides to come together.

By Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek International, November 13, 2006

"If Iraq was the dominating topic of the election season in the United States, immigration is the issue that wasn't. Despite the efforts of populist and nativist politicians and pundits to whip up hysteria about a looming catastrophe, Americans didn't bite. In a news-week poll taken last week, voters listed immigration a distant fifth on their list of concerns—after Iraq, terrorism, the economy and health care.

Polling on immigration has been remarkably consistent over the past few years. The American public wants tighter enforcement of the laws but also realizes that the system now in place is unworkable. Consistent two-thirds majorities favor a comprehensive overhaul that would include tighter enforcement, but also guest-worker visas and a path to citizenship for illegal workers already in the country. This compromise package has the potential to be realized after the elections. After all, how many issues are there today on which George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Rudy Giuliani all agree?

The great obstacle to immigration reform has been a noisy minority. Only about 20 percent of voters, mostly but not exclusively Republican, are dead set against a guest-worker program as well as any path to citizenship for illegals. But they are active primary voters, which means that their influence has been vastly enhanced (and exaggerated) during the campaign season. Come Tuesday, the party will be over. CNN's Lou Dobbs and his angry band of xenophobes will continue to rail, but a new Congress, with fewer Republicans and no impending primary elections, would make the climate much less vulnerable to the tyranny of the minority.

On the contrary, it will make enormous political sense for all sides to come together and cut a deal. To start with, President Bush needs to accomplish something. He has given only two Oval Office addresses on domestic policy—one on Social Security reform, the other on immigration. The first is dead. If he cannot enact his immigration plan, his second term will be void of any achievements...".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:51 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2006

Recent independent polls illustrate the current public mood on immigration:

Which party would do a better job of dealing with immigration?

Washington Post/ABC News Poll (October 5-8, 2006) N=1,204: Democrats by 49% - 36% (+13).

USA Today/Gallup Poll (October 6-8, 2006): Democrats 47% - 34% (+13).

NEWSWEEK (October 7, 2006): Democrats 43% - 34% (+9).

Which do you prefer, the House or the Senate approach to immigration reform?

Pew Center for People and the Press (September 21-October 4, 2006): Senate by 55% - 41%.

NBC/Wall Street Journal (June 9-12, 2006): Senate by 50% - 33%.

TIME Magazine/SRBI (March 29-30, 2006): Senate by 72% - 25%.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2006


Please find this initial analysis of the election results, prepared by Marshall Fitz, AILA;


Mid-term election races are typically suffused with a blend of local and national issues and concerns. As a result, analyzing the election outcomes through the lens of a single issue often presents difficulties. To some degree, however, this year represents an exception with regard to a central AILA issue: immigration reform. A number of House, Senate (and Governor) immigration hard-liners tried to make illegal immigration a wedge electoral issue. The election results highlight how badly their gambit fared.

The rigid, impractical position on undocumented immigration set forth by hardliners failed both generally (as it faded down the list of top national voter issues) and specifically (as high-profile candidates who tried to leverage their hardline approach into a wedge issue lost a majority of races). We take heart from the following specific election results:

House Races:

J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), one of the most vocal “seal the border, repel the hordes” hardliners lost his re-election bid (46-51%) in Arizona (5th), a district he won by 21% two years ago!

Minuteman Randy Graf (R) lost his bid to replace Jim Kolbe in Arizona’s 8th District by an overwhelming margin (42-54%). He ran on his hard line views against Democratic opponent Gabrielle Giffords, who supports comprehensive reform along the lines of the Senate-passed comprehensive bill. The national elections gave truth to Graf’s recent observation along the lines of: “If this issue doesn’t play well in this district, it won’t play well anywhere in the country.”

John Hostettler (R-IN) also lost resoundingly, taking only 39% of the vote in Indiana’s 8th District. Hostettler was one of the most high-profile hardliners in the House. He has been the Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee and led a number of the summer hearings.

Bruce Braley (D) defeated Mike Whalen (R) in an open seat in Iowa’s 1st District. Whalen ran on a hardline, pro-H.R. 4437 and accused his opponent of supporting amnesty.

In Colorado’s 7th District, Ed Perlmutter (D) beat Rick O’Donnell (54-42%) for Representative Beauprez’s open seat, despite O’Donnell’s attacks on Perlmutter as a supporter of amnesty.

Melissa Hart (R-PA), a member of the House Immigration Subcommittee, who had been a staunch supporter of H.R. 4437 and a committed opponent of comprehensive reform, also lost her reelection bid.

Key Senate Races:

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) lost by a huge margin (41-59%). Santorum had pounded his opponent, Democratic challenger Bob Casey, on Casey’s support for comprehensive immigration reform in debates and with inflammatory advertisements.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) prevailed (53-45%) over his challenger, Tom Kean, who strongly opposed comprehensive immigration reform. Senator Menendez has the distinction of being the only Member of Congress to both vote against H.R. 4437 and for S. 2611!

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) easily fought back (60-38%) a challenger, Katherine Harris, who unsuccessfully attempted to leverage Nelson’s support for comprehensive reform into a wedge issue.

Senator Carper (D-DE) resoundingly defeated (70-29%) single-issue restrictionist candidate, Jan Ting. Carper supported a comprehensive solution and voted in favor of S. 2611 while Ting, a former INS official, rejected it as “amnesty”.

Governor’s Races:

In Arizona, Democrat Janet Napolitano handily beat (63-35%) her Republican challenger Len Munsil. Napolitano has been in the vanguard of governors supporting a realistic, comprehensive solution to our immigration problems.

In Colorado, Democrat Bill Ritter defeated (56-41%) hard-liner Republican Bob Beauprez, who had vacated his U.S. House seat for a run at the governor’s mansion. As a Member of the House, Beauprez voted against AILA’s position on virtually every issue and attempted to leverage his hard line stance on immigration into a winning electoral strategy in his gubernatorial bid.

Overall Picture:

The final results in the House look like this: Democrats (and independents who will caucus with them) took control by a 230-205 margin, winning 12 more seats than they needed to gain control. The final Senate results are not in yet. Democrats gained at least 4 Senate seats, with the results of 2 elections still outstanding. Recounts in those races – Virginia and Montana – will probably be necessary because of the razor-thin margins. If the Democrats win both seats (and they are currently slightly ahead), they will control the Senate by a 51-49 margin. If they lose both or split those seats, the Republicans will maintain their majority by a 51-49 or 50-50 margin.

While these results will mean positive changes in leadership in the House (and possibly the Senate) on immigration issues, they by no means signify that it will be easy to obtain positive and comprehensive immigration reform through the Congress in the coming two years. We lost two Republican moderates in the Senate who had strongly supported comprehensive immigration reform--Senators DeWine (OH) and Chafee (RI) – and 60 votes will be needed to pass any controversial legislation. In the House, many of the victors are conservative Democrats, and the looming 2008 presidential election will mean that both parties will be "tacking" strongly to the center. Please see the Newsweek article below for a good analysis of the prospects for immigration reform in the new Congress.

We hope that both parties will take seriously the fact that immigration restrictionists lost badly yesterday. We will also be looking at some of the close races to determine the strength of the Latino vote.

We will be working very hard to try to get some meaningful H and EB relief next week during the short "lame duck" session. It is not yet clear whether Congress will actually try to pass any appropriations bills or whether they will merely pass a "continuing resolution" and leave the legislating until 2007. We will keep you posted.

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

November 08, 2006

Congress Reconvenes on Monday; Elections May Determine Scope of Session

Congress will reconvene next Monday, November 13, for a post-election, lame duck session that could last as little as one week or extend through much of December. The length and mood of the lame duck session will depend upon the outcome of yesterdays's elections and could affect prospects for immigration-related legislation. A longer lame duck session could improve the chances of securing positive immigration provisions, such as much-needed relief from the H-1B visa cap and employment-based green card backlogs, but it could also present another opportunity for House Republican leadership to insert harsh immigration enforcement provisions into appropriations bills, as they attempted to do in September.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2006

It's time to send the congressman home

MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL (Editorial): From the Journal Sentinel,
Posted: Oct. 28, 2006

"Two years ago, we recommended Jim Sensenbrenner for another term representing Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. Today, we simply cannot. Sensenbrenner has been wrong on too much, from an immigration policy that puts him at odds with much of his own party and the business community to failure to exert meaningful oversight over White House domestic spying policies.

We recommend his opponent, Democrat Bryan Kennedy. He will be a competent, thoughtful congressman who can restore a sense of dignity and balance to the 5th District. It's time for that after years of folly from Sensenbrenner.

Sensenbrenner has too often been an obstructionist to good policy. Given the reins of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, he had a chance to lead for the common good during a congressional session when few representatives had even a notion of what that meant. Too often, he didn't.

Sensenbrenner was wrong on immigration. His enforcement-only plan included making felons of undocumented immigrants and a useless 700-mile fence that will do nothing to solve this national problem. Worse for Republicans, his obstinacy split his own party and cost it a rare opportunity to significantly broaden its base.
Sensenbrenner was wrong on the USA Patriot Act. We need many of its provisions in this era of terrorism, but the version he championed strode upon the liberty of every American.

Sensenbrenner was wrong on Real ID, which will cost states millions of dollars to implement and which fixed something that wasn't broken.
Sensenbrenner was wrong not to dig deeper into the National Security Agency's domestic spying program. Sensenbrenner sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but didn't bother with the real spade work.

Sensenbrenner was wrong to waste taxpayers' money by taking more than $160,000 in junkets since 1994, not to mention the more than $200,000 in world travel paid for by lobbyists and think tanks over the past six years.

Sensenbrenner was wrong to push bills that would make it harder for police agencies to track illegal guns and to crack down on rogue gun dealers.

Sensenbrenner was wrong to indict Milwaukee as "fast becoming the murder capital of the U.S." and wrong to lash out at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, calling him a "crybaby" for having the brass to criticize Congress. It's but one example of the congressman's increasingly belligerent and unproductive tone...".

At; http://www.jsonline.com/

Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2006

Immigration target hits 25-year high

Move aimed to address labour shortages, but critics say backlog also needs fixing; by MARINA JIMÉNEZ, IMMIGRATION REPORTER

Ottawa has increased its annual immigration target to the highest level in 25 years, and aims to accept between 240,000 and 265,000 newcomers in 2007 -- human capital needed to fill Canada's "extraordinary" labour market requirements, Immigration Minister Monte Solberg says.

Mr. Solberg also acknowledged that Canada's current immigration model is flawed and pledged to introduce changes to address the enormous backlog of 800,000 applicants, as well as to adjust the selection process so that skilled tradespeople can qualify to come here.
"We were built on immigration and we think it wasn't just important in the past but is critical to the future," he said in an interview. "The numbers are big because we think they'll help the country...".

Mario's note; Canada received 130,242 skilled workers last year in comparison the U.S. allow 65,000 skilled workers in last year.

At; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20061101.IMMIGRATION01/TPStory/National

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2006

Essential to the Fight: Immigrants in the Military, Five Years After 9/11

NEW RELEASE November 3, 2006

by Margaret D. Stock

From the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigrants have made significant contributions to the United States by serving in our military forces. Today, immigrants voluntarily serve in all branches of the U.S. military and are a vital resource in the Global War on Terrorism. To recognize their unique contribution, immigrants serving honorably in the military who are not yet U.S. citizens are granted significant advantages in the naturalization process. Over the past five years, Congress has amended military-related enlistment and naturalization rules, allowing for expanded benefits for immigrants and their families and encouraging recruitment of immigrants into the U.S. armed forces. Without the contributions of immigrants, the military could not meet its recruiting goals and could not fill the need for foreign-language translators, interpreters, and cultural experts.

Among the findings of this report:

• As of December 2004, there were 69,299 foreign-born individuals serving in the armed forces, representing 4.9 percent of the 1.4 million military personnel on active duty. Roughly 57 percent of foreign-born service members were naturalized citizens, while the remaining 43 percent were not U.S. citizens

• In Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, 4,614 members of the military were naturalized. Naturalizations of immigrants in the military are at their highest during times of war.

• The September 11th attacks precipitated immediate changes in policies on immigrants in the military. Once the nation was at war, immigrants in the armed forces were eligible for naturalization under the special wartime military naturalization statute. As of October 2006, more than 25,000 immigrants had taken advantage of this provision to become U.S. citizens, and another 40,000 were thought to be eligible to apply.

• Recognizing that immigrants could provide special assistance to the armed forces as translators, Congress in 2006 passed a law providing for up to 50 immigrant visas per year for translators serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the great need for Arabic, Pashto, Dari, and other translators, it is not clear why Congress chose this low number.

• Congress has failed to act on the few legislative proposals that would significantly increase the participation of immigrants in the military.

*Margaret Stock is an attorney in Anchorage, Alaska; a Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police Corps, U.S. Army Reserve; and an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York. The opinions expressed in this report are the author's and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the U.S. Military Academy, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or any other government agency.

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


Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2006

Medicaid Wants Citizenship Proof for Infant Care

Here is an example of how bad the politics have become in the U.S. Now we are punishing the children for the errors of their parents;

“In New York Times by Robert Pear, published: November 3, 2006,

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 — Under a new federal policy, children born in the United States to illegal immigrants with low incomes will no longer be automatically entitled to health insurance through Medicaid, Bush administration officials said Thursday.

Doctors and hospitals said the policy change would make it more difficult for such infants, who are United States citizens, to obtain health care needed in the first year of life.

Illegal immigrants are generally barred from Medicaid but can get coverage for treatment of emergency medical conditions, including labor and delivery.

In the past, once a woman received emergency care under Medicaid for the birth of a baby, the child was deemed eligible for coverage as well, and states had to cover the children for one year from the date of birth.

Under the new policy, an application must be filed for the child, and the parents must provide documents to prove the child’s citizenship…”.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2006

Judge blocks town's ban on immigrants

Here is an article posted November 1, 2006 in Reuters new service about the town in Pennsylvania which seeks to legislate against undocumented workers. This reminds me of the infamous witch hunts in Pennsylvania when females were branded as witches in mass hysteria. Althought the person change it is amazing how history repeats itself;

"PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- A federal judge Tuesday temporarily barred Hazleton, Pennsylvania, from implementing a law designed to prevent illegal immigrants from living in the town.

Judge James Munley of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a temporary restraining order against Hazleton City Council, preventing it from enforcing its Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance.

The measure has become a model for other U.S. towns that blame illegal immigrants for a range of social problems.

The law, which had been scheduled to take effect Wednesday, would fine landlords found to be renting space to illegal aliens, close down businesses that hire them, and allow legal employees to sue the businesses for employment lost during such a shutdown. A related law also establishes English as the town's official language.

The restraining order is valid until November 14.

In a 13-page opinion, Munley said immigrants risked "irreparable injury" by being evicted from their apartments if the law is enforced. He also said he was not convinced by the city council's argument that illegal immigration increases crime and overburdens social services.

"Defendant offers only vague generalizations about the crime allegedly caused by illegal immigrants but has nothing concrete to back up these claims," Munley wrote...".

At; http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/10/31/immigration.town.reut/index.html

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

November 02, 2006

CRS Report on the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity

Over the past year, as Congress has debated various approaches to immigration reform, all of the major bills considered – including both S. 2611 and H.R. 4437, as well as the more recent Community Protection Act (H.R. 6094) – have included provisions that would expand the consequences of criminal activity for noncitizens. The Congressional Research Service recently updated its report on “Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity” to include analysis of these recent legislative developments, along with an overview of the categories of criminal activity applicable to noncitizens and the effect of a conviction for such crimes upon a noncitizen’s immigration status.

The CRS report outlines three broad categories of crimes which may have immigration consequences for noncitizens - crimes involving moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, and crimes affecting assessment of good moral character – and then reviews the ways in which each class of crimes can affect admissibility, discretionary relief, naturalization, and removal. The report emphasizes that illegal entry itself is not a crime, and states that “the term ‘illegal alien’ – an alien without legal status – is not synonymous with ‘criminal alien.’”

The report concludes with a brief list of provisions in S. 2611 and H.R.4437 that would expand the criminal grounds for inadmissibility, deportation, and denial of discretionary relief. This list provides a useful comparison of the two bills and a succinct catalogue of the some of the harshest immigration provisions passed by members of Congress in the past year.

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

November 01, 2006

Lame Duck 101: An Overview of the Post-Election Congressional Session from AILA, Oct. 31, 2006;

"Since the 109th Congress is headed towards a post-election session, this is a good opportunity to review the definition of a "lame duck" session. A "lame duck" session of Congress occurs whenever one Congress meets after the election of its successor has taken place, but before the succeeding new Congress begins. The members in the lame duck session, therefore, are the sitting members of the existing Congress, not the members-elect of the new Congress.

Congress has held a total of 15 lame duck sessions from 1940 through 2004. Congress has typically reconvened in mid-November and adjourned before Christmas, so that the lame duck session lasted about a month. Some sessions were not particularly productive, often because of political disputes and the difficulties of reaching legislative decisions in a post-election environment. In such cases (e.g., 1944, 1982, 2004), lame duck Congresses have deferred major matters to the succeeding Congress, especially when the party in power looked forward to a stronger majority in the new Congress. If one or both Houses of Congress change majority parties this year, we could again see a short lame duck session where members defer matters to the succeeding Congress.

The major task of most lame duck sessions in recent years has been to complete action on appropriations and the budget, since these bills must be enacted each fiscal year to fund government operations. During the 107th Congress in 2002, the lame duck session began on November 12th with two priorities: finish work on 11 appropriations bills and consider creation of DHS. While the DHS measure was completed (the House had already completed its work on the measure during that summer), Congress was unable to resolve its appropriations differences and ultimately had to pass a continuing resolution (CR). This CR funded the government at FY2002 levels through January 11, 2003, leaving the appropriations work to be done by the 108th Congress. The Defense Appropriations bill and Military Construction Appropriations bill were the only appropriations measures completed by Congress in 2002. During the 108th Congress, in 2004, Congress cleared four bills prior to the election and ended up wrapping the remaining nine into an "omnibus" measure that was attached to the FY2005 foreign operations spending law that was cleared Dec. 8, 2004.

This year's outlook on appropriations work during the lame duck session has many of the hallmarks of previous years. Of the 11 appropriations measures, only 2 have been signed into law. Appropriators would like to pass their bills separately, but the timeframe may be too short, leaving two main options, an omnibus or a CR into January. The election outcome will determine how Republican leaders will attempt to handle the remaining bills when lawmakers reconvene the week of Nov. 13th".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:43 AM | Comments (0)