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June 30, 2007

The Grand Collapse

New York Times Editorial, published 6/30/07;

"The defeat of immigration reform in the Senate this week was appalling, not so much because an ambitious bill died, but because of how stubbornly, to the bitter end, the process remained disconnected from reality. The bill crumpled on the Senate floor on Thursday in a procedural vote, with two-thirds of Republicans swarming to kill it. They shrouded their act with the same rhetorical distortions and ritual incantations — death to amnesty! — that have polluted the debate all along.

Two Republicans, Jeff Sessions and Jim DeMint, hailed the demise of an attempt at immigration reform as a victory for the American people. Victory, maybe, if you favor semiporous borders, rotting crops and millions of people growing old overseas as they wait to enter legally. If you want federal officials to keep thimble-dipping the immigrant ocean with raids and detentions that shatter families and cripple businesses, and state and local governments to go on erecting a ramshackle grid of disjointed immigration policies, then this debacle was for you.

The bill’s defeat also thwarted the possibility of progress on border security, stricter employment laws and an orderly future flow of workers. To top it off, by foreclosing legitimacy for millions of illegal immigrants, Republicans brusquely told Hispanic-Americans what they can do with their votes and hopes.

There was pretending on the other side, too. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, defending the teetering bill, likened it to the great acts of civil rights days. With respect to Mr. Kennedy and his allies, the bill was not even close. Its good provisions were anchored to bedrock delusions: that fixing immigration is simply a job of building fences and punishing illegal workers. The fishy “grand bargain” began to rot as soon as it was unwrapped, as advocates for immigrants kept accepting one bad amendment after another in the hope that this bill — or any bill, please — was better than nothing, and that bad things would somehow be removed later.

Their desperation showed, and when talk radio got a frenzy going — Capitol phones crashed as the crucial vote loomed — nothing good could withstand the hot wind blowing across the Hill...".

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/30/opinion/30sat1.html?th&emc=th

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2007

Senate cloture vote fails 46-53; Roll Call of Votes

Following is the statement issued today by AILA in response to the Senate's failure to invoke cloture on S.1639, which most likely ends any movement on immigration reform this summer:

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Senate, in failing to pass a key procedural obstacle to the passage of its immigration reform legislation, today failed not only immigrants and their families and employers, but failed the country.

Our current immigration system is badly broken. Twelve million undocumented immigrants live and work in America without any opportunity whatsoever to earn full legal status and eventual citizenship. Our borders are not secure even with an historic level of enforcement. Family and employment-based immigration backlogs grow by the hour, requiring decades-long waits in many cases. U.S. employers cannot legally hire essential immigrant workers or needed highly skilled professionals, because no system is provided to afford necessary immigrant workers legal entry. The agricultural industry is unable to find sufficient workers and those undocumented working in the shadows labor under a badly broken system. High school students who excel are barred from continuing their education because they cannot obtain legal status. Immigrants seeking to feed their families and the chance to be part of the American dream continue to die in the desert seeking entry, and detention centers that are actual tent cities continue to grow.

The Senate bill was admittedly deeply flawed. Backroom negotiations and a convoluted amendment process ensured that the bill in its current form would not have led to workable reform. But the Senate has denied the House a chance to weigh in on this pivotal national issue to try to get things right, and to pass an immigration reform bill that would serve the interests of this country and its families, its businesses, and its immigrants.

AILA will advocate vigorously to ensure that the immigration reform debate stays alive, that Senators be held accountable for their actions, and that the House move boldly to take the lead and not replicate the Senate's mistakes.

Any immigration reform bill must include the following necessary architecture for meaningful, effective reform:

(1) A clear path to lawful residence for those who come forward, pay fines, and demonstrate their commitment to become Americans by earning their status through working and learning English.

(2) A new worker program that includes labor protections, job portability, and a realistic path to permanent residence.

(3) The elimination of the existing unconscionable backlogs in family immigration, preservation of meaningful family immigration with reasonable quotas, and recalibration of our employment-based immigrant visa quotas to accommodate the needs of our dynamic and growing economy.

(4) Smart border and worksite enforcement mechanisms that protect our national security interests, while respecting civil rights.

(5) Due process and civil liberties protections that guarantee immigrants their day in court, judicial review, and a meaningful opportunity to seek waivers and discretionary relief.

The Senate bill that foundered on the Senate floor today gave the appearance of adhering to this skeletal architecture, but its content, flawed from the beginning of the process, was further compromised by harsh amendments that were supported by a majority of Senators in order to secure passage of the bill and to try to keep the legislative process moving forward.

AILA's top objections to the Senate bill included:
(1) Decimation of the employment-based immigration system through creation of a mis-named "merit-based" point system that disconnects employment-based immigration from employer sponsorship and eliminates existing avenues of migration for aliens of extraordinary ability, multinational executives, and outstanding researchers.

(2) Evisceration of family-based immigration by eliminating 4 out of 5 long-recognized family relationships that qualify an individual for green card sponsorship in exchange for a partial reduction of the backlogs in those categories.

(3) Lack of meaningful opportunities for new temporary workers to transition to permanent residence.

(4) Lack of sufficient future numbers for employment-based immigrants at all ends of the skill spectrum.

(5) Unwarranted restrictions on the H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant visa programs.

(6) Lack of sufficient confidentiality protections for Z-visa applicants.

(7) Harsh due process restrictions that violate fundamental protections guaranteed to all persons under our constitution.

For years, AILA has been at the forefront in advocating for a comprehensive solution to the multitude of problems plaguing our immigration system. Our collective experience on the frontlines of immigration law and policy highlights the dire and urgent need for workable reform that advances the nation's economic, social, and national security interests.

AILA will do everything possible to assist and to support the Senate and the House to craft an immigration reform bill that comports with our tradition as a nation of immigrants.

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 call George Tzamaras at 202-216-2410 or Brooke Hewson at 202-216-2435

Crystal Williams
Deputy Director, Programs
American Immigration Lawyers Association
cwilliams@aila.org
(202) 216-2405 phone; (202) 783-7853 fax

ROLL CALL OF VOTES:

Alabama: Sessions (R-AL), Nay & Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Alaska: Murkowski (R-AK), Nay & Stevens (R-AK), Nay
Arizona: Kyl (R-AZ), Yea & McCain (R-AZ), Yea
Arkansas: Lincoln (D-AR), Yea & Pryor (D-AR), Nay
California: Boxer (D-CA), Yea & Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Colorado: Allard (R-CO), Nay & Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Connecticut: Dodd (D-CT), Yea & Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
Delaware: Biden (D-DE), Yea & Carper (D-DE), Yea
Florida: Martinez (R-FL), Yea & Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Georgia: Chambliss (R-GA), Nay & Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Hawaii: Akaka (D-HI), Yea & Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Idaho: Craig (R-ID), Yea & Crapo (R-ID), Nay
Illinois: Durbin (D-IL), Yea & Obama (D-IL), Yea
Indiana: Bayh (D-IN), Nay & Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Iowa: Grassley (R-IA), Nay & Harkin (D-IA), Nay
Kansas: Brownback (R-KS), Nay & Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Kentucky: Bunning (R-KY), Nay & McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Louisiana: Landrieu (D-LA), Nay & Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Maine: Collins (R-ME), Nay & Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Maryland: Cardin (D-MD), Yea & Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Massachusetts: Kennedy (D-MA), Yea & Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Michigan: Levin (D-MI), Yea & Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
Minnesota: Coleman (R-MN), Nay & Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Mississippi: Cochran (R-MS), Nay & Lott (R-MS), Yea
Missouri: Bond (R-MO), Nay & McCaskill (D-MO), Nay
Montana: Baucus (D-MT), Nay & Tester (D-MT), Nay
Nebraska: Hagel (R-NE), Yea & Nelson (D-NE), Nay
Nevada: Ensign (R-NV), Nay & Reid (D-NV), Yea
New Hampshire: Gregg (R-NH), Yea & Sununu (R-NH), Nay
New Jersey: Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea & Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
New Mexico: Bingaman (D-NM), Nay & Domenici (R-NM), Nay
New York: Clinton (D-NY), Yea & Schumer (D-NY), Yea
North Carolina: Burr (R-NC), Nay & Dole (R-NC), Nay
North Dakota: Conrad (D-ND), Yea & Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Ohio: Brown (D-OH), Nay & Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Oklahoma: Coburn (R-OK), Nay & Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Oregon: Smith (R-OR), Nay & Wyden (D-OR), Yea
Pennsylvania: Casey (D-PA), Yea & Specter (R-PA), Yea
Rhode Island: Reed (D-RI), Yea & Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
South Carolina: DeMint (R-SC), Nay & Graham (R-SC), Yea
South Dakota: Johnson (D-SD), Not Voting & Thune (R-SD), Nay
Tennessee: Alexander (R-TN), Nay & Corker (R-TN), Nay
Texas: Cornyn (R-TX), Nay & Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Utah: Bennett (R-UT), Yea & Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Vermont: Leahy (D-VT), Yea & Sanders (I-VT), Nay
Virginia: Warner (R-VA), Nay & Webb (D-VA), Nay
Washington: Cantwell (D-WA), Yea & Murray (D-WA), Yea
West Virginia: Byrd (D-WV), Nay & Rockefeller (D-WV), Nay
Wisconsin: Feingold (D-WI), Yea & Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Wyoming: Barrasso (R-WY), Nay & Enzi (R-WY), Nay

provided by www.aila.org


Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2007

Senate resumed consideration of amendments to the CIR bill, S. 1639; Cloture Vote Expected Today

• Five amendments were tabled (killed), including amendments to accelerate “touchback” for Z visa applicants, expand legalization eligibility requirements, and prevent Z visa holders from getting green cards.

• A motion to table a Baucus amendment to remove REAL ID requirements from the underlying bill failed.

• Senator Reid announced that a cloture vote to end debate will occur Thursday morning, likely around 10:30 am.

Summary of Senate Proceedings—6/27/07:

Following morning business, the Senate resumed debate on the CIR bill, S. 1639. Members of both parties spoke on behalf of the bill in general, and urged that the debate move forward, amendments be voted on, and the final bill be passed. Some members of the minority party, however, expressed concern with the procedural process thus far.

Majority Leader Reid allowed some discussion before bringing the senators back on course. Senators then considered, and tabled, the following amendments:

• Hutchison Amendment Accelerating “Touchback” for Z Visa Applicants
A motion to “table,” or kill, the amendment was agreed to by a vote of 53-45.

• Webb Amendment Expanding Legalization Eligibility Requirements
A motion to table the amendment was agreed to by a vote of 79-18.

• Bond Amendment Preventing Z Visa Holders from Earning Green Cards
A motion to table the amendment was agreed to by a vote of 56-41.

• Dodd Amendment Increasing Immigrant Visas for Parents of USCs
The motion to table the Dodd amendment was agreed to by a vote of 56-41. Following this vote, a side-by-side to this amendment from Senator Kyl (R-AZ), which would have negated some of the improvements proposed in the Dodd amendment, was withdrawn.

• Menendez Amendment Increasing Points Awarded for Family Ties
A motion to table the amendment was agreed to by a vote of 55-40.

• Baucus Amendment on REAL ID
A motion to table the amendment was not agreed to, 45-52, and the amendment remains up for consideration.

The Senate will take no further votes until Thursday around 10:30 am EDT on a motion to invoke cloture and limit debate on S. 1639. If that vote passes, the remaining germane amendments will be considered.

A detailed summary of today's proceedings is available on InfoNet at:

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:49 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2007

The Debate Ahead: Wednesday - Friday

On Wednesday morning (June 27) at 10:00 a.m., Senator Reid will break the so-called “clay pigeon” amendment into 27 separate amendments. The Senate will then commence debate on these amendments and will push to have votes on as many as 10 amendments before the cloture petition on the underlying bill ripens on Thursday morning (June 28).

The Senate will work through the clay pigeon amendments with the intention of voting on as many as 10 before the cloture petition on the underlying bill ripens on Thursday morning (June 28).

It appears, however, that a goal of 10 pre-cloture votes could be overly ambitious. Because the restrictionists have vowed to reject any unanimous consent agreement - including time agreements to structure debate and votes - the managers of the bill will be forced to try to dispense with pending amendments through a procedure known as a motion to table.

If cloture is successfully invoked on Thursday morning with 60 votes, 30 hours of debate will ensue. Restrictionist Senators once again can thwart votes during that 30 hour period through refusing to provide unanimous consent. At the expiration of the 30 hours, however, we would expect a “vote-a-rama” on all of the outstanding amendments that remained “germane” post cloture.

If the process unfolds as described, at the conclusion of the “vote-a-rama” there would be a vote on final passage, likely sometime late on Friday (June 29).

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

CIR Daily Update 6/26/07: Debate Resumes; Reid Introduces "Clay Pigeon" Amendment

Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) held a vote on a motion to invoke cloture early Tuesday afternoon. A vote on cloture requires approval of 3/5 of the Senate, or 60 votes. The vote to invoke cloture on the underlying bill passed, 64-35. As a result, the Senate will resume consideration this week of amendments to the CIR bill, S. 1639.

Find out how your senators voted on cloture; http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=1&vote=00228

Following a brief break, Senator Reid asked that time limits be set on each of the amendments that will be introduced and voted on prior to a final vote on the bill later this week. These requests were objected to, so Senator Reid instead introduced a "clay pigeon" amendment: a negotiated package of 27 amendments filed as a single amendment that eventually will be broken into pieces for debate and votes. Senator Reid then asked that the reading of the amendments on the Senate floor be set aside so that debate could begin. Initially, this was not agreed to by members of the minority party - part of a strategy to stall debate and prevent the bill from moving forward, according to Senator Reid. Eventually, however, the reading was dispensed with, and as a result, debate on amendments will begin in earnest Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m.

The complete text of the "clay pigeon" is available on www.aila.org

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

June 26, 2007

Senate to Vote Tuesday to Proceed with CIR Debate

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled a procedural vote on a motion to proceed with the Senate immigration reform bill (S. 1639) for Tuesday, June 26, 2007. If the motion passes with 60 or more votes, senators will begin debate on a negotiated list of 24 amendments, split evenly between the two parties.

Debate and votes on the amendments will continue until the morning of Thursday, June 28, at which point the bill will be put to a second procedural vote to limit debate. If it passes with 60 or more votes, the Senate will have 30 hours of additional time to debate and vote on the outstanding amendments. If the bill survives this procedural gauntlet, a vote on final passage could occur late on Friday or possibly Saturday.

This schedule is tentative, and the negotiated list of amendments remains in flux. Please stay tuned to InfoNet for more information on amendments, timing, and action alerts throughout this week.

What You Can Do:

Prepare to call your senators about upcoming amendments! Join our rapid response cell phone campaign by programming your senators' phone numbers into your cell phone. Also, find out how your senators voted during the last round of debate on the Key Votes page of Contact Congress.

Learn more about the Senate immigration bill. Read the text of S. 1639 or browse AILA's analysis and summaries of key provisions at www.aila.org

Contact your U.S. representative and urge him or her to get it right on CIR! If S. 1639 passes the Senate, the House of Representatives will begin marking up its own immigration reform bill. Now is the time to urge the House to get it right and oppose inclusion of radical Senate proposals in the House bill. Write or call your representative today!

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2007

High-Tech Titans Strike Out on Immigration Bill

By ROBERT PEAR, New York Times, published: June 25, 2007

"WASHINGTON, June 24 — Bill Gates and Steven A. Ballmer of Microsoft have led a parade of high-tech executives to Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to provide more visas for temporary foreign workers and permanent immigrants who can fill critical jobs.

Google has reminded senators that one of its founders, Sergey Brin, came from the Soviet Union as a young boy. To stay competitive in a “knowledge-based economy,” company officials have said, Google needs to hire many more immigrants as software engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists.

The top executives of these and other high-tech companies have been making a huge effort to reshape the Senate immigration bill to meet their demand for more foreign workers. But they have had only limited success, as is often the case when strong-willed corporate leaders confront powerful members of Congress...".

at; http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/25/technology/25tech.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:05 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2007

House to Consider Amendment to Deny Food Stamps to Certain Legal Immigrants

The House Committee on Agriculture plans to take up the 2007 Farm Bill next week, and AILA heard that Representative Steve King (R-IA) will be offering an amendment that would deny legal immigrants access to food stamps if they were ever in the country illegally. Asylees, in particular, could be at risk of losing access to food stamps if the amendment passes.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2007

Out of Sync: New Temporary Worker Proposals Unlikely to Meet U.S. Labor Needs

A key component of the Senate immigration reform bill currently under consideration is a new temporary worker program that, ostensibly, would replace the current stream of undocumented migration with a regulated flow of less-skilled immigrant workers. However, as the latest report from the Immigration Policy Center cogently illustrates, the temporary worker provisions of the legislation, as currently proposed, would not respond to the growing demand for less-skilled workers to fill permanent jobs in essential high-growth industries.

In fact, the temporary program taking shape in the Senate would have the effect of cycling less-skilled immigrant workers in and out of the lowest rungs of the U.S. labor force without creating any longer-term investment in the workers or the industries in which they are employed. According to the authors of "Out of Sync: New Temporary Worker Proposals Unlikely to Meet U.S. Labor Needs," an alternative program that allows workers to apply for permanent status would better address industry's need for a larger and more settled less-skilled workforce and would more likely discourage undocumented immigration in the future.

Read the full IPC report at http://www.ailf.org/ipc/policybrief/policybrief_060707.shtml

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2007

AILA Statement on Revival of Senate Bill

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07062067 (posted Jun. 20, 2007)"
CONTACT: George Tzamaras, 202-216-2410, gtzamaras@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC - The Senate immigration reform bill is unworkable in its current form, said the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) today. If the bill should pass the Senate as now written, AILA will advocate vigorously to ensure that the House of Representatives does not replicate the Senate's mistakes.

Since the bi-partisan "grand bargain" proposal was originally introduced, AILA has expressed strong opposition to a number of its central components. Largely the product of intense backroom negotiations, the compromise that emerged was more an earnest attempt to find the political sweet-spot for Senate passage than a reasoned roadmap for comprehensive reform. Political considerations eventually warped the proposal in ways that would bring more chaos to our immigration system instead of the order and rationality that this bill was intended to restore.

Under the agreement to revive the immigration bill announced by the Senate leadership teams, a pre-determined package of 20-24 amendments (10-12 per party) will be voted upon. The expectation is that in exchange for this agreement on amendments, the leadership teams will be able to secure the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture (cut off debate on the bill) and move to a vote on final passage.

AILA's continuing top concerns with the bill include:

1. Decimation of the employment-based immigration system through creation of a mis-named "merit-based" point system that disconnects employment-based immigration from employer sponsorship and eliminates existing avenues of migration for aliens of extraordinary ability, multinational executives, and outstanding researchers.
2. Evisceration of family-based immigration by eliminating 4 out of 5 long-recognized family relationships that qualify an individual for green card sponsorship in exchange for a partial reduction of the backlogs in those categories.
3. Lack of meaningful opportunities for new temporary workers to transition to permanent residence.
4. Lack of sufficient future numbers for employment-based immigrants at all ends of the skill spectrum.
5. Unwarranted restrictions on the H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant visa programs.
6. Lack of sufficient confidentiality protections for Z-visa applicants.

Nothing that transpired during the earlier Senate Floor debate served to allay these concerns. Of the 14 amendments that passed by recorded vote, none addressed these most problematic aspects of the bill. To the contrary, most of the amendments that passed have made the bill even more unworkable. Although we understand that two or three amendments included in the final package to be voted on address these concerns on the margins, there are also amendments in the offing that could further distort the original objectives of this bill.
AILA's Position

For years, AILA has been at the forefront in advocating for a comprehensive solution to the multitude of problems plaguing our immigration system. Our collective experience on the frontlines of immigration law and policy highlights the dire and urgent need for workable reform that advances the nation's economic, social, and national security interests. We fear, however, that the product likely to emanate from the Senate will be neither workable nor in our national interest.

The necessary architecture for meaningful, effective reform must include:

1. A clear path to lawful residence for those who come forward, pay fines, and demonstrate their commitment to becoming Americans by earning their status through working and learning English.
2. A new worker program that includes labor protections, job portability, and a realistic path to permanent residence.
3. Elimination of the existing unconscionable backlogs in family immigration and recalibration of our employment-based immigrant visa quotas to accommodate the needs of our dynamic and growing economy.
4. Smart border and worksite enforcement mechanisms that protect our national security interests, while respecting civil rights.

While the current Senate bill may give the appearance of adhering to this skeletal architecture, its full content has hollowed out these essential building blocks. The revolutionary changes to future family and employment based immigration represent an unwarranted and unacceptable tradeoff for a fatally flawed legalization program, partial backlog reduction, and an untenable temporary worker program. AILA cannot support enactment of the Senate bill in its current form and will do everything possible to significantly improve the bill as the legislative process continues.

###

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 call George Tzamaras at 202-216-2410 or Brooke Hewson at 202-216-2435

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2007

Missing Soldier's Wife May Be Deported

"Jimenez Missing Since Unit Attacked By Insurgents

POSTED: 3:59 am PDT June 20, 2007

BOSTON -- The wife of a soldier missing in Iraq could face deportation, her lawyer told a television station.

Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, who has been missing since his unit was attacked by insurgents in Iraq on May 12, had petitioned for a green card for his wife, Yaderlin, whom he married in 2004, Boston's WBZ-TV reported Tuesday.

Their attorney, Matthew Kolken, said Yaderlin illegally entered the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2001. Her husband's request for a green card and legal residence status for her alerted authorities to her situation, Kolken said.

The attorney said his client would not be eligible for a green card under normal circumstances, but he is seeking a hardship waiver for her. If she were to have to leave the U.S., she would have to wait 10 years before reapplying.

"I can't imagine a bigger injustice than that, to be deporting someone's wife who is fighting and possibly dying for our country," Kolken told the station...".

www.ap.org

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2007

Senate to Resume Immigration Debate

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to file for cloture on a motion to proceed on the newly reintroduced Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act (S. 1639*) on Wednesday, a move that could pave the way for a final round of debate and votes on the Senate immigration reform proposal.

Faced with two major pieces of legislation to complete before the July Fourth recess - immigration and energy - Senator Reid has threatened to keep his colleagues at work on immigration reform through this weekend. The Senate could begin debate as early as Thursday and may vote Friday on cloture, a procedural motion that must pass with 60 votes before the Senate can move forward with the amendment process. If the motion passes, the Senate could then devote the weekend to votes on amendments, to be followed next week by a vote on final passage.

As part of a deal reached by the bill's "grand bargainers," amendments to S. 1639 will be limited to a negotiated package of 20-24 amendments. The final list of amendments agreed upon by Senate leaders is not yet available, but reports suggest that each party will be limited to 10-12 amendments, a small fraction of the hundreds of amendments that were filed during the debate on S. 1348. More information about these amendments will be posted on as soon as it becomes available.

* Introduced on June 18 by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), S. 1639 contains the provisions originally included in the "grand bargain" substitute amendment (SA 1150) to S. 1348, as amended during the two weeks of Senate floor debate. S. 1639 also adds a new provision that would provide $4.4 billion to DHS for use in meeting the trigger requirements set forth in the bill.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2007

New landing page for prospective clients

Shortly we will be rolling out a new landing page for new clients. This will allow you to place your information into our system. This new feature should make its debut shortly. Once it come up try it out.

Mario Ramos

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

June 18, 2007

EB-3 Other Worker Visa Availability Update

USCIS has informed AILA Liaison that the State Dept. has advised that the EB-3 Other Worker category has been exhausted. USCIS HQ has informed the TSC and the NSC to reject EB-3 Other Worker adjustment applications even though the June Visa Bulletin shows visa availability. AILA believes this instruction is contrary to 8 CFR 245.1(g)(1) and has raised the issue with USCIS HQ. Watch InfoNet for further developments.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2007

Grand Bargainers Revive Senate Immigration Reform Bill

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07061566 (posted Jun. 15, 2007)"

The bipartisan group of Senate “grand bargainers” announced Thursday, June 15, that they had reached a procedural agreement to revive the comprehensive immigration reform bill (Kennedy-Specter substitute to S. 1348) and return it to the Senate Floor for a final round of debate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to bring the bill back to the Floor after the Senate completes work on the energy bill, most likely during the last week of June. Negotiators hope to put the legislation to a vote on final passage before the Independence Day recess, which begins on July 1.

The deal reached by the grand bargainers hinges upon agreement on a list of amendments to be considered before the vote on final passage of the bill. During last week’s debate, Republican senators argued that lawmakers had not given adequate consideration to amendments offered by Republican members. The final list of amendments agreed upon by Senate leaders is not yet available, but reports suggest that each party will be limited to 10-12 amendments, a small fraction of the hundreds of amendments that have been offered to the bill.

What You Can Do

Prepare to Call Your Senators:

Debate on the bill could resume as early as late next week, but will most likely take place during the last week of June. Prepare to take action as amendments come up for votes by programming your senators’ phone numbers into your cell phone and reading AILA’s materials on the Senate CIR debate on the CIR Featured Topics page at www.aila.org.

Urge the House to Get CIR Right:

If the grand bargainers’ agreement leads to passage of S. 1348 in the Senate, members of the House are expected to move forward with markup hearings on their own bill. Now is the time to urge the House to get it right and oppose inclusion of radical Senate proposals in the House bill. Write or call your representative today via Contact Congress!

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2007

Senate Leaders Agree to Revive Immigration Bill

By ROBERT PEAR and JEFF ZELENY, Published: June 15, 2007, the New York Times;

"WASHINGTON, June 14 — Senate Democratic and Republican leaders announced on Thursday that they had agreed on a way to revive a comprehensive immigration bill that was pulled off the Senate floor seven days ago.

The majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said they expected the bill to return to the floor before the Fourth of July recess.

In a joint statement, Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell said: “We met this evening with several of the senators involved in the immigration bill negotiations. Based on that discussion, the immigration bill will return to the Senate floor after completion of the energy bill.”

The immigration bill, ardently sought by President Bush, would make the biggest changes in immigration law and policy in more than 20 years.

It would increase border security, crack down on companies that employ illegal immigrants, establish a guest worker program and offer legal status to most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

The agreement does not guarantee that the bill will be approved by the Senate or become law".

Go to; http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/15/washington/15immig.html?_r=1&th=&adxnnl=1&oref=login&emc=th&adxnnlx=1181911269-y66t5+z9vZeFXMXyj+NPwg

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:49 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2007

Give your U.S. Representative a Wake Up Call! The Time for House Action on CIR is NOW!

Last week the Senate effectively hit snooze on the immigration alarm when they voted against invoking cloture on debate of S. 1348. Whether they roll over and go back to sleep or wake up and face the music remains an open question. However, one thing is clear: it is not too late for the House to show leadership on this critical issue and propel the process forward. The House must not remain beholden to the Senate's dysfunction. It is time for the House to heed the demands of a large majority of Americans by passing comprehensive, workable immigration reform.

Tell your Representative that the House must:

Move legislation through "regular order" to ensure that the policy proposals are workable and exposed to public scrutiny, not grossly distorted by backroom political negotiations like the Senate's "grand bargain."

Include the four key components of CIR in a workable final bill:
1. smart border and worksite enforcement;
2. path to earned permanent residence for the undocumented;
3. a new worker program to regulate our integrated North American labor market;
4. reunification of families separated for years or decades by senseless backlogs.

Reject the four fatal flaws of the stalled Senate bill:
1. evisceration of the family-based green card categories;
2. replacement of our current employment-based immigration system with a radical, untested "merit-based" point system;
3. failure to recalibrate current green card levels to meet the demands of our economy at both ends of the skill spectrum;
4. exclusion of new temporary workers from any path to permanent residence.

Email your Representative from Contact Congress TODAY! Go to www.aila.org.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2007

Congress Takes a Break from Immigration

Both chambers of Congress are taking a break from immigration this week as the Senate considers energy legislation and the House tackles appropriations bills.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) temporarily set aside the Secure Borders, Economy Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act (Kennedy-Specter substitute to S. 1348) last Thursday, June 7, after the bill’s supporters failed to garner enough votes to end debate and proceed toward a vote on final passage. Despite this setback, the bill’s “grand bargainers” continue to work behind the scenes to craft a procedural agreement that could pave the way for a final round of debate and votes on CIR. If the bargainers succeed in striking a bipartisan deal, Senator Reid could bring the bill back to the floor after the Senate dispenses with energy legislation, sometime before the July 4 recess.

In the House, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, concluded last week a series of immigration hearings that spanned six weeks and touched upon nearly every important facet of immigration reform. Unlike the Senate, the House intends to move its own CIR legislation forward through the full committee process, beginning with a markup in the Immigration Subcommittee. However, House leaders have indicated that they intend to wait upon the deadlocked Senate and will postpone subcommittee markup hearings until the fate of S. 1348 is decided.

You can urge the House NOT to wait on the Senate – see Take Action for details at www.aila.org.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2007

Visa Wait Times

The Department of State has a handy tool for determining how long in advance of the travel you should plan your appointment. It is important to thoroughly review all information on the specific Embassy's Consular Section website for local procedures and instructions, such as how to make an interview appointment. Consular Websites will also explain any additional procedures for students, exchange visitors and those persons who need an earlier visa interview appointment.

You'll also want to know how long it will take for your non-immigrant visa to be processed at the Consular Section, after a decision is made by a Consular Officer to issue the visa, and the visa is available for pick-up by you or the courier at the embassy. See the “Wait Times for a Nonimmigrant Visa to be Processed” information, which does not include time required for special clearances and administrative processing . Some visa applications require additional special clearances or administrative processing, which requires some additional time. Most special clearances are resolved within 30 days of application. Applicants are advised when they apply. When additional special clearances or administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case.

Select a Location at; http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/tempvisitors_wait.php

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2007

H-1B1 Visa Appointment and Processing Time in Santiago, Chile

The typical wait time (Calendar Days*) when you schedule an appointment to obtain an H-1B1Visa in Santiago is 16 days. The typical wait time (workdays) for an H-1B1 non-immigrant visa to be processed is 2 days. This is a fast process to obtain the H-1B1 visa in Santiago. You should begin to say goodbye to family and friends. Get ready to start your new job in the U.S.A.

To learn more about applying for an H-1B1 visa visit SACVisa.com

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

June 11, 2007

E-3 Visa Appointment and Processing Time in Sydney, Australia

The typical wait time (Calendar Days*) when you schedule an appointment to obtain an E-3 Visa in Sydney is 1 day. The typical wait time (workdays) for an E-3 non-immigrant visa to be processed is 2 days. This is a very fast process to obtain the E-3 visa in Australia. You should begin to pack your bags and say goodbye to family and friends prior to the appointment. Get ready to start your new job in the U.S.A.

To learn more about applying for an E-3 visa visit SACVisa.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

H-1B1 Visa Appointment and Processing Time in Singapore

The typical wait time (Calendar Days*) when you schedule an appointment to obtain an H-1B1 Visa in Singapore is the same day. The typical wait time (workdays) for an H-1B1 non-immigrant visa to be processed is the same day. This is an extremely fast process to obtain the H-1B1 visa in Singapore. You should pack your bags and say goodbye to family and friends prior to the appointment. Get ready to start your new job in the U.S.A.

To learn more about applying for an H-1B visa visit SACVisa.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2007

Advocate

From AILA,

Thank you for your time, energy, and commitment to AILA's campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In the last three weeks, you and your colleagues collectively made over 25,000 CALLS to US Senators.

As you know, the Senate failed to invoke cloture last night. After two weeks of dedicated time for debate on the Senate floor (and many months of negotiations), the body could not reach agreement on the bill. View yesterday's CIR Daily Update for a narrative summary of the debate, procedural motions, and votes. Daily updates of each day of debate are available as Congressional Updates at www.aila.org. Additional resources about S. 1348 including, a section-by-section summary, amendments to the bill, data and surveys about CIR, and information from our coalition partners, are all available on the CIR Featured Issues page.

We have been reassured by leaders of both parties and the White House that the immigration bill is not dead. However, a timeline for action is unclear. We must continue our efforts and urge Congress to “get it right” and to pass a workable and comprehensive bill before the end of the year.

Please, continue contacting your Senators and remind them that the status quo is completely untenable. If our immigration laws are not changed, people will continue to die in the desert in greater numbers, families will be torn asunder, workplace raids will continue, backlogs will grow, innovation will be stifled, the proliferation of piecemeal state and local ordinances will continue, and immigrant communities will be faced with a literal state of siege.

Find out how Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker voted on amendments to S.1348 and on cloture on InfoNet. Call them on Monday and share the message that the time for reform is NOW.

Your Senators' phone numbers are:

Sen. Lamar Alexander: (202) 224-4944
Sen. Bob Corker: (202) 224-3344

Posted by VisaLawyer at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2007

Out of Sync: New Temporary Worker Proposals Unlikely to Meet U.S. Labor Needs

A key component of the immigration reform bill now being debated in Congress is a new temporary worker program that, ostensibly, would replace the current stream of undocumented migration with a regulated flow of less-skilled immigrant workers. However, the temporary worker provisions of the legislation, as they now stand, would not respond to the growing demand for less-skilled workers to fill permanent jobs in high-growth industries like construction. In fact, the temporary program taking shape in the Senate would have the effect of cycling less-skilled immigrant workers in and out of the lowest rungs of the U.S. labor force without creating any longer-term investment in the workers or the industries in which they are employed. An alternative program that allows workers to apply for permanent status would better address industry’s need for a larger and more settled less-skilled workforce and would more likely discourage undocumented immigration in the future.

Among the findings of this report:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that nearly 6 million new jobs will be created between 2004 and 2014 that require only short-term on-the-job training. However, the available supply of native-born workers to perform this labor is shrinking. Among the native-born population, fertility rates are falling, workers are growing older and better educated, and labor force participation rates are flattening. Immigrants, in contrast, are more likely to be younger and to have only a high-school education or less.

According to the American Community Survey, between 2000 and 2005, the less-skilled native-born labor force in the United States shrank by 2.5 million workers. At the same time, only 800,000 less-skilled immigrant workers joined the U.S. workforce. As a result, there was a net decline of 1.7 million less-skilled workers over that 5-year period - or approximately 340,000 workers per year.

The temporary worker program currently under consideration, which is capped at 200,000 per year, is unlikely to accommodate even the current level of demand for at least 340,000 new less-skilled workers every year. Moreover, because none of the workers who enter the country under the new temporary program would be permitted to stay for more than 2 years, the program provides no net increase in the size of the U.S. labor force after the second year.

Because of the shortfall in the available supply of workers to fill less-skilled jobs, key industries such as hotels and motels, restaurants, agriculture, construction, light manufacturing, healthcare, and retailing - which are already experiencing a major influx of immigrant workers - are also experiencing structural labor shortages.

BLS projects nearly 2.5 million job openings in construction between 2004 and 2014. A key characteristic of the construction industry is established career ladders for less-skilled workers. Workers typically begin as laborers or helpers but often gain on-the-job training in the use of tools, techniques, and plans. Some less-skilled workers go on to become skilled craftsmen, while others rise up the administrative ranks as crew chiefs, foremen, and site supervisors.

The temporary worker provisions now under consideration would undermine the effectiveness of job-safety programs aimed at reducing the high rates of work-site illness, injury, and fatality among immigrant construction workers. These programs take time to work and require a sustained ongoing commitment by company and employee, which is not possible for workers who come and go every 2 years.

Given the declining number of less-skilled native-born workers, immigrants - especially Latinos - comprise a rapidly escalating share of workers in all construction occupations. About 20 percent of the roughly 10 million workers currently in the construction industry are foreign-born and more than half are believed to be undocumented. Foreign-born Latinos can be found in even higher percentages in all major occupations in construction, from less-skilled laborers to more highly skilled drywallers and plasterers.

For more information contact Tim Vettel (at 202-742-5608 or tvettel@ailf.org) or visit the Immigration Policy Center website at www.immigrationpolicy.org.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2007

Final Update on Senate Debate for the Day

On 6/7/07, the Senate continued consideration of amendments to the CIR bill (S. 1348).
Highlights:

• Cloture votes:
o Morning cloture vote failed, 34-61.
o Evening cloture vote failed, 45-50.
o Following this failure of the evening cloture vote, Majority Leader Reid withdrew the comprehensive immigration reform bill from consideration on the Senate floor.

Summary of Senate Proceedings—6/6/07

The Senate began the day with discussion of an amendment from Senator Coburn (R-OK) requiring full implementation of the US-VISIT program in order to trigger benefits for the Y and Z visa programs. However, the key matter for the day revolved around the motions brought, as promised, by Majority Leader Reid to invoke cloture and effectively set a deadline to end debate and proceed to a final vote on the underlying bill.

Morning Motion to Invoke Cloture

Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) submitted a motion to invoke cloture early this morning. A vote on cloture requires approval 3/5 of the Senate, or 60 votes. The vote to invoke cloture on the underlying bill failed, 34-61, so no deadline for ending debate was set. Every Republican voted no on cloture, and 15 Democrats also voted no. Senator Sanders (I-VT) voted no, as well.
Majority Leader Reid promised to submit another motion to invoke cloture later in the evening, and threatened to pull the entire comprehensive immigration reform bill off the table if the evening cloture vote didn’t pass. Majority Leader Reid indicated that failure of this second cloture vote would be a clear sign that “certain Senators will never vote to pass” the underlying bill, and are essentially stalling by introducing a stream of amendments, one after the other, in order to gut the bill of its original intentions, or kill it entirely.

Evening Motion to Invoke Cloture

After much behind the scenes negotiating between key Senators on both sides of the aisle throughout the day, Majority Leader Reid late this evening submitted another motion to invoke cloture. At 9 pm, the votes were tallied and the motion to invoke cloture was defeated. Following this defeat, Majority Leader Reid withdrew the bill from floor consideration. As a result, the senate's immigration reform measure has been pulled for the time being. Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle did express a desire to bring the
measure back to the floor in the not too distant future. This could mean in a few weeks, or a few months. See you in Orlando."

Coburn Amendment (#1311) Regarding US-VISIT Program

Prior to a brief debate on the cloture vote, Senator Coburn (R-OK) introduced an amendment imposing additional conditions, including “operational control” of borders, that must be met as part of “trigger” system prior to implementation of titles IV and VI of the underlying bill. These titles include the Y visa new worker program and the legalization program for Z visa holders.

This amendment failed, 42-54.

The following amendments were discussed today, but not voted on:

Dodd Amendment (#1199) to Remove Ceiling on Parent Immigrant Visas
Senator Dodd (D-CT) introduced an amendment he initially discussed prior to the recess, one that seeks to increase family unification. The amendment would address provisions in the current bill curtailing visa availability for parents of USC sponsors. In particular, it would increase the green card cap on visas issued to parents of USCs to 90,000, up from the 40,000 set aside in the underlying bill, making sure sufficient numbers of visas are available to those parents coming to the U.S. It would also lengthen parent visitor stays to 180 days, up from the 30 days allowed for in the underlying bill. Finally, the amendment would make penalties for parent overstays applicable only to those parents, not their USC sponsors.
Senator Menendez then spoke in strong favor of this amendment, chastising those who characterize family reunification as mere “chain migration,” and declaring that those who denigrate parents coming to the U.S., wanting to join their USC children, have simply chosen to dismiss the very essence of what America was built on.

Sanders Amendment (#1332) Prohibiting Companies from Receiving Visas if a Layoff Has or Will Occur

Senator Sander (I-VT) introduced an amendment to prohibit companies from receiving
any visas if there has been a notice or a "mass layoff" under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act in the past year, or if there will be a layoff in the next six months. This overbroad amendment means, for example, that employees currently working on temporary visas could be prohibited from adjusting status to permanent
residence, even if they are in a profitable business sector separate from the one in which layoffs occurred.

Baucus Amendment (#1236) Removing the Requirement that REAL ID Compliant Documents Be Used in Employer Verification System

Senator Baucus (D-MT) introduced an amendment removing provisions relating to REAL ID from Title III, the Employment Eligibility Verification System portion of the underlying bill. Specifically, the amendment, out of concern for “the privacy and civil liberties of Americans,” strikes the requirements that driver’s licenses comply with REAL ID to serve as valid identification. According to Senator Tester (D-MT), a co-sponsor of the bill, it will simply be impossible for states to be compliant with REAL ID requirements within the next decade, let alone upon enactment of the underlying bill. Senator Akaka (D-HI), another co-sponsor, urged that the flaws inherent in the REAL ID program not be inflicted on employers before they are worked out.

Coleman Amendment (#1473) to Allow States and Localities to Inquire About Immigration Status

This amendment was Senator Coleman’s second attempt to pass a local law enforcement amendment that failed during the first week of debate. The amendment would prohibit states and localities from preventing their employees—including police and health and safety workers—from inquiring about the immigration status of those they serve if there is “probable cause” to believe the individual being questioned is undocumented. This version of the amendment would also make implementation of this prohibition a “trigger” condition that must be met before the earned legalization and new worker programs can commence.

Many cities, counties, and police departments have decided that it is a matter of public health and safety NOT to ask about immigration status when people report crimes or seek emergency medical care. For this reason, they have passed local laws and set policies limiting the situations in which police and government employees can inquire about immigration status. These laws and policies are not "sanctuary" ordinances, but rather laws intended to help maintain the trust of local communities and thereby facilitate the critical work of local law enforcement agencies. The Coleman amendment would not help, but hinder the efforts of local police to keep our communities safe. AILA strongly opposes this amendment.

Webb Amendment (#1313) Eliminating “Touchback” Requirement for Z Visa Holders

Senator Webb introduced an amendment yesterday that has three main purposes. First, the amendment proposes to establish objective criteria in order to determine which undocumented individuals have sufficient ties to the U.S. in order to be granted Z visa status. Among the criteria proposed are: whether an individual has immediate relatives living in the U.S.; the length of time an individual has lived in the U.S.; whether an individual owns property or a business in the U.S.; work history; and proficiency in English.
The second part of the Webb amendment strikes the “touchback” requirement in the underlying bill, requiring Z visa holders to apply for adjustment of status in their home country, as opposed to applying in the U.S. The third and final component of the Webb amendment requires that individuals be present in the U.S. for four years prior to the date of enactment of the underlying bill, in order to qualify for adjustment from Z visa status. Despite the positive elimination of the touchback requirement, AILA opposes this amendment due to the other provisions contained within.

McCaskill Amendment (#1148) Barring Employers Who Hire Undocumented Workers From Federal Contracts

Senator McCaskill (D-MO) introduced an amendment barring employers convicted of employing unauthorized aliens from federal contracts for 5 years (cf. 2 years), without waiver.
Chambliss Amendment (#1318) to Protect Social Security Trust Fund

AILA has not yet seen the text of this amendment.

Chambliss Amendment (#1319) Raising Fines for Ag Workers to Legalize and Adjust

Senator Chambliss (R-GA) introduced an amendment instituting parity in fines paid by agricultural workers and non-agricultural workers who legalize under the Z visa program. Specifically, the amendment would increase the fines that undocumented agricultural workers pay to apply for a Z visa, from $100 in the underlying bill, to $1000, the same fine that all other Z visa applicants must pay. Furthermore, the amendment increases the fees agricultural workers must pay to adjust to LPR status from Z visa status, from $1000 in the underlying bill to $4000, the same fee that all other Z visa holders who apply for a green card must pay. However, the amendment does allow agricultural workers to deduct $1000 per year that they work in agriculture in Z visa status, up to a maximum discount of $3000 off the $4000 green card application fee.

The following amendments were introduced yesterday but not voted on:

Thune Amendment (#1174) to Prevent Immediate Legal Status Being Granted to Undocumented
Senator Thune (R-SD) introduced an amendment to eliminate what he termed the “loophole” in the underlying bill giving the undocumented the ability to attain immediate legal status upon enactment of the bill. The amendment would require that certain border security measures be triggered, or met, before any probationary benefits are granted to those who legalize their status. AILA opposes this amendment.

Senator Dole (R-NC) Amendment (#1345) Regarding DWI Convictions

Senator Dole introduced an amendment regarding DWI convictions and the undocumented. AILA has not yet seen the text of this amendment. Further details on the amendment will be provided as soon as they become available.

In general, AILA believes this “bargain” bill is unacceptable and unworkable in its current form. However, while the process is still very much in flux, we are working closely with our allies to improve the bargain as much as possible during Senate floor debate this week. We will keep you posted about amendment information as it becomes available.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2007

AILA; Hispanic/Latino Interest Group Position on Senate Bill form Essential Workers Immigration Coalition

June 7, 2007

Dear Senators:

The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition urges all sides to continue to work on agreement to move the debate forward on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Senators should continue to reject amendments that are clearly "deal breakers" which would prevent passage of the pending legislation.

We seek improvements in the immigration bill as well, and will continue to work to make it better. But one thing is certain: without Congressional action, employers will face a multiplicity of hurdles to maintain a sufficient workforce and there will be a serious adverse affect on the economy. We urge Senators and stakeholders to reach alternative compromise agreements on various proposed amendments that will allow the process to move forward.

We must have comprehensive immigration reform that ensures the stability of the current workforce, and provides the economy the future workers it needs to grow when US workers are not available.

The business community understands the complexity and politics involved in the issues. We urge all stakeholders to work with the Senate as the legislation proceeds through this amendment process. This may be our only chance for years to achieve reform. We cannot risk losing this opportunity.
Sincerely,
Essential Worker Immigration Coalition

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

CIR Daily Update 6/5/07: Debate Resumes; Reid Urges Passage of Bill This Week

Discussion of comprehensive immigration reform was delayed for several hours due to the death of Senator Thomas (R-WY). When it resumed, debate began in earnest on two controversial amendments-Allard (#1189) and Durbin (#1231)-leading up to votes on each.

The Allard amendment to eliminate the separate point schedule for Z visa holders failed, 31-62. While Senator Durbin's amendment to eliminate DOL-determined labor shortages as an exception to employer recruitment requirements for Y visas was agreed to, 71-22.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2007

Immigrants' List - Now More than Ever!

Over the past month, over 50 persons have contributed, through our web site, more than $25,000 to Immigrants' List, the first and only pro- immigration political action committee for immigrants and their attorneys. The Senate resumes action on the pending immigration bill on June 4. Please join Immigrants' List now! You'll be glad you did! See

https://secure.immigrantslist.org/page/contribute/shusterman

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2007

Pending Amendments to the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348)

Members of the Senate have introduced over 100 amendments to the Secure Borders, Economy Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348).1 The amendments below are considered “pending” and therefore likely to be considered when the Senate resumes debate on S. 1348 during the week of June 4-8. Please call or write your senators now and encourage them to take an active stance on the amendments
described below!

Amendments AILA Supports:

SA 1176 Feingold Amendment – SUPPORT – to establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II.

SA 1183 Clinton/Hagel/Menendez Amendment – SUPPORT – to designate the
spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives. Both current law and S.1348 limit the number of green cards available to spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to 87,900 per year. This has resulted in a backlog of over 1 million family members who wait 10 or more years to be reunited. SA
1138 would re-categorize spouses and minor children of LPRs as “immediate relatives,” thereby eliminating the cap on the number of visas available to these family members. The U.S. prides itself on welcoming newcomers and protecting families, but immigration
policies are keeping these families apart. This amendment would ensure that permanent residents of the U.S. are able to reunite with their spouses and minor children in a timely manner.

SA 1191 Lieberman Amendment – SUPPORT – to provide safeguards against faulty asylum procedures and to improve conditions of detention. This amendment would implement the key recommendations of the congressionally established U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Commission reported an unacceptable risk that the fears of genuine asylum seekers were not being fully considered. Asylum seekers are often detained for months in maximum security prisons, without being considered for release on bond. The amendment implements quality assurance procedures to ensure that asylee statements are accurately recorded; that alternatives to detention are considered;
and that detention standards are improved. The amendment calls for sensible reforms that will safeguard the nation's security, improve the efficiency of our immigration detention system, and ensure that people fleeing persecution are treated in accordance with this nation's most basic values.

1 A complete list of proposed amendments to S. 1348 can be found on THOMAS at http://thomas.loc.gov/ -
simply search by bill number for S. 1348, click on the link to “Bill Summary and Status File,” and choose
“Amendments.”

SA 1194 Menendez/Hagel Amendment – SUPPORT – to adjust the cut-off date for family-based immigrant petitions from May 1, 2005 to January 1, 2007. S. 1348 would address the extensive, decades-long backlogs of family-based petitions for lawful permanent residence, but only for those petitions filed before May 1, 2005. Petitions that were filed on or after that cut-off date – an estimated 833,000 - would be rejected. This is a grave injustice to individuals who sought to play by the rules and relied in good faith on the laws in effect at the time of filing. The Menendez amendment would move the “cutoff” date from May 1, 2005 to January 1, 2007, making it consistent with the cut-off date
for legalization applicants. It would also add 110,000 green cards per year to the family backlog reduction effort to ensure that the backlogs will still be eliminated within the intended 8-year period.

SA 1199 Dodd/Menendez Amendment – SUPPORT – to increase the number of
immigrant visas for parents of U.S. citizens and the length of time parents can remain in the U.S. on the newly minted temporary parent visas. Under current law, parents of U.S. citizens are defined as immediate relatives, along with spouses and minor children, and
are exempt from annual numeric caps. S. 1348 removes them from this category, subjects them to an annual cap of 40,000 green cards, and creates a new temporary visa category for parents. The Dodd amendment promotes family unity by increasing the annual cap on green cards for parents of U.S. citizens to 90,000; extending the permissible duration of stay for parents who visit on the newly created temporary visa; and ensuring that penalties imposed on parents who overstay their temporary visas are not unfairly applied to others.

SA 1249 Cantwell/Cornyn Amendment – SUPPORT – to establish a parallel and complementary employer-sponsored merit-based program. This “employer-sponsored” stream would let companies continue to sponsor specific individuals for permanent residence. It would provide 140,000 visas separate and in addition to those currently in the bill. This amendment would protect U.S. workers by applying labor market tests to
employer sponsorship of foreign workers in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. In addition to dealing with employment-based green cards, this amendment also addresses some of the bills changes to the H-1B program by striking the presumption of “immigrant intent” and restoring the “degree equivalency” provision. Furthermore, the
amendment, while maintaining the provisions to strengthen H-1B enforcement in the bill, eliminates overregulation of legitimate H-1B employers by striking provisions that would require every employer comply with burdensome requirements that currently apply only
to “willful violators” and to employers with excessive numbers of H-1B employees.

Amendments AILA Opposes:

SA 1170 McConnell Amendment – OPPOSE – to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require individuals voting in a federal election to present photo identification.Such a requirement has the potential to disenfranchise certain groups like the elderly, the poor, and young voters who may be less likely to have or be able to secure photo
identification.

SA 1184 Cornyn Amendment – OPPOSE – to expand the grounds making immigrants ineligible for benefits under the legalization provisions and other restrictions. This amendment would severely erode core due process principles and unnecessarily restrict immigration benefits for certain categories of immigrants. Although billed as a technical
amendment to "close loopholes" in the proposed legislation, this amendment would in fact significantly expand, RETROACTIVELY, grounds for deportability. Moreover, this amendment would subvert the very goals of the bill's legalization program and render large numbers of the current undocumented population ineligible to participate.

SA 1189 Allard Amendment – OPPOSE – to eliminate the pathway to legal permanent residency for Z visa holders by removing the point system set aside for them. To ensure that all Z visa holders eventually are able to earn permanent residency status, the architects of the bill inserted a smaller, separate point schedule for Z visa holders to
determine when, during the 5 year legalization period, such visa holders could apply for permanent residence. By eliminating this separate point schedule for Z visa holders, this amendment seeks to undermine the opportunity for Z visa holders to become legal
permanent residents by requiring them to compete with other intending immigrants. If successful, the amendment would create a permanent underclass of lower skilled workers, living here in legal limbo indefinitely without the rights afforded to legal permanent residents. Similar situations have played out in other countries, resulting in
very problematic, even disastrous, consequences.

SA 1231 Durbin/Grassley Amendment – OPPOSE – to strike provisions in the bill that allow the Secretary of Labor to determine whether or not there is a shortage of U.S. workers in the occupation and area of intended employment for which a Y nonimmigrant is sought. This amendment would require employers to follow extensive hiring and
recruitment procedures even in areas where there labor shortages as determined by the Secretary of Labor.

SA 1234 & SA 1235 Sessions Amendments – OPPOSE – This pair of amendments would exclude Y and Z visa holders from claiming the earned income tax credit (EITC).

SA 1234 - to prevent the earned income tax credit (EITC), which is, according to the Congressional Research Service, the largest anti-poverty entitlement program of the Federal Government, from being claimed by Y temporary workers or illegal aliens given status by this Act until they adjust to legal permanent resident status.

SA 1235 – to amend the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act of 1996, to include the EITC on the list of means-tested benefits that green card holders cannot receive until they been an lawful permanent resident for 5 years.

These amendments would deny those immigrants who have become legal residents one of the tax benefits available to every taxpayer. The EITC is designed to reduce the tax burden on low-income families with children. It would be patently unfair to subject immigrant workers to harsher tax consequences. Immigrant workers cannot receive the
earned income tax credit unless he or she is a legal resident who is a low wage worker paying payroll taxes and filing an income tax return. These amendments punish men and women who are working hard and playing by the rules by attempting to deny them the benefits that similarly situated workers receive and desperately need.

SA 1250 Cornyn Amendment – OPPOSE – to allow information contained in a legalization application that has been denied to be disclosed to law enforcement agencies in any civil or criminal investigation. The Cornyn amendment abolishes the confidentiality protections contained in S.1348 and authorizes the DHS and DOS to share such information with any relevant law enforcement agency or court in any criminal or
civil investigation when the application is denied. Security experts agree that it is critical to bring the 12 million undocumented people who are here without legal status out of the shadows. But current undocumented immigrants will have to be persuaded that it is safe
to come forward to an agency that they have come to mistrust. Churches, community agencies, and attorneys need to know that they are not exposing their clients to immigration enforcement by encouraging them to apply for legalization. Previous experience has demonstrated that without such confidentiality safeguards, many immigrants will fear exposing themselves, their family members, or their employers to
substantially reduce the size of the unauthorized population.

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

KEY VOTES ALL THIS WEEK - ACTION NEEDED!

KEY VOTES ALL THIS WEEK - ACTION NEEDED!

Your senators are back in DC and prepared to spend the week voting on a string of immigration amendments. Senate leaders will likely hold a cloture vote to end debate and proceed with a vote on FINAL PASSAGE by the end of this week.

The Yeas and Nays will begin tomorrow morning with votes on the Allard amendment to strike the supplement schedule for green cards for Z visa holders and the Durbin/Grassley amendment to remove DOL-determined labor shortages as an exception to employer recruitment requirements for Y visas. Please urge your senators to OPPOSE both amendments. Visit InfoNet for talking points on both amendments!

In addition to the bad Allard and Durbin/Grassley amendments, we expect the Senate to vote on an unpredictable mix of amendments tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday--some GOOD, some BAD, and others UGLY! Immigration advocates MUST CALL ABOUT THESE AMENDMENTS when they come up for consideration! AILA staff will prepare you to call your Senators by posting up-to-the-minute amendment information and talking points at www.aila.org. We may need you to call MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY!


STAY INFORMED! CHECK INFONET FREQUENTLY!
CALL YOUR SENATORS ABOUT EACH AMENDMENT!

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

June 04, 2007

CIR Amendments Pending - Call Your Senators Today!

The Senate CIR battle continues on Monday, June 4, 2007, when debate resumes on the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act (S. 1348). Just like last week, amendments will come quickly and urgent action is needed on each of them. Thank you for your enthusiastic response to last week's calls to action! We've heard from Chapter Chairs that AILA members participated by the thousands, often calling multiple times a day! Don't stop now!!

Members of the Senate have introduced over 100 amendments to S. 1348, and a limited number of these will be brought to a vote sometime next week. AILA has compiled a list of "pending" amendments that the Senate is likely to consider and could vote upon as early as Tuesday, June 5. Many of these are critical amendments that could significantly improve, or undermine, the underlying legislation. Please call or write your senators today and urge them to work throughout the amendment process to improve upon the current proposal and protect its positive provisions.

Find AILA's list of pending amendments at: http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=22479

Contact your senators using AILA's on-line congressional directory at: http://capwiz.com/aila2/directory/congdir.tt?action=myreps_form


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

June 03, 2007

Divided Families: New Legislative Proposals Would Needlessly Restrict Family-Based Immigration

As Congress deliberates over a new comprehensive immigration reform bill, lawmakers are considering legislative proposals that would drastically restrict the family-based immigration system that has been the cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy for decades. The proposal currently under consideration in the Senate would eliminate the first, third, fourth, and 2B family-based preference categories and redefine immediate relatives to exclude parents of U.S. citizens. Advocates of this radical restructuring believe that family-based immigrants, unlike employment-based immigrants, have no vital economic or social role to play in the United States.

However, in a recent Immigration Policy Center (IPC) report, Stewart Lawrence, Managing Director of Puentes & Associates, argues that opponents of family-based immigration are vastly underestimating the numerous social and economic benefits of the family-based admissions system for both immigrants and the native-born. Indeed, according to Lawrence, the United States derives the greatest economic and social benefits from immigration when the employment- and family-based systems are functioning together in a well-balanced fashion.

Read the full IPC report at http://www.ailf.org/ipc/policybrief/policybrief_051807.shtml

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

June 02, 2007

Truth, Fiction and Lou Dobbs

By DAVID LEONHARDT, New York Times, May 30, 2007

"The whole controversy involving Lou Dobbs and leprosy started with a “60 Minutes” segment a few weeks ago.

The segment was a profile of Mr. Dobbs, and while doing background research for it, a “60 Minutes” producer came across a 2005 news report from Mr. Dobbs’s CNN program on contagious diseases. In the report, one of Mr. Dobbs’s correspondents said there had been 7,000 cases of leprosy in this country over the previous three years, far more than in the past.

When Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” sat down to interview Mr. Dobbs on camera, she mentioned the report and told him that there didn’t seem to be much evidence for it.

“Well, I can tell you this,” he replied. “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”

With that Orwellian chestnut, Mr. Dobbs escalated the leprosy dispute into a full-scale media brouhaha. The next night, back on his own program, the same CNN correspondent who had done the earlier report, Christine Romans, repeated the 7,000 number, and Mr. Dobbs added that, if anything, it was probably an underestimate. A week later, the Southern Poverty Law Center — the civil rights group that has long been critical of Mr. Dobbs — took out advertisements in The New York Times and USA Today demanding that CNN run a correction.

Finally, Mr. Dobbs played host to two top officials from the law center on his program, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” where he called their accusations outrageous and they called him wrong, unfair and “one of the most popular people on the white supremacist Web sites.”

We’ll get to the merits of the charges and countercharges shortly, but first it’s worth considering why, beyond entertainment value, all this matters. Over the last few years, Lou Dobbs has transformed himself into arguably this country’s foremost populist. It’s an odd role, given that he spent the 1980s and ’90s buttering up chief executives on CNN, but he’s now playing it very successfully. He has become a voice for the real economic anxiety felt by many Americans.

The audience for his program has grown 72 percent since 2003, and CBS — yes, the same network that broadcasts “60 Minutes” — just hired him as a commentator on “The Early Show.” Many elites, as Mr. Dobbs likes to call them, despise him, but others see him as a hero. His latest book, “War on the Middle Class,” was a best seller and received a sympathetic review in this newspaper. Mario Cuomo has said Mr. Dobbs is “addicted to economic truth.”

Mr. Dobbs argues that the middle class has many enemies: corporate lobbyists, greedy executives, wimpy journalists, corrupt politicians. But none play a bigger role than illegal immigrants. As he sees it, they are stealing our jobs, depressing our wages and even endangering our lives.

That’s where leprosy comes in.

“The invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans,” Mr. Dobbs said on his April 14, 2005, program. From there, he introduced his original report that mentioned leprosy, the flesh-destroying disease — technically known as Hansen’s disease — that has inspired fear for centuries.

According to a woman CNN identified as a medical lawyer named Dr. Madeleine Cosman, leprosy was on the march. As Ms. Romans, the CNN correspondent, relayed: “There were about 900 cases of leprosy for 40 years. There have been 7,000 in the past three years.”

“Incredible,” Mr. Dobbs replied.

Mr. Dobbs and Ms. Romans engaged in a nearly identical conversation a few weeks ago, when he was defending himself the night after the “60 Minutes” segment. “Suddenly, in the past three years, America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy,” she said, again attributing the number to Ms. Cosman.

To sort through all this, I called James L. Krahenbuhl, the director of the National Hansen’s Disease Program, an arm of the federal government. Leprosy in the United States is indeed largely a disease of immigrants who have come from Asia and Latin America. And the official leprosy statistics do show about 7,000 diagnosed cases — but that’s over the last 30 years, not the last three.

The peak year was 1983, when there were 456 cases. After that, reported cases dropped steadily, falling to just 76 in 2000. Last year, there were 137.

“It is not a public health problem — that’s the bottom line,” Mr. Krahenbuhl told me. “You’ve got a country of 300 million people. This is not something for the public to get alarmed about.” Much about the disease remains unknown, but researchers think people get it through prolonged close contact with someone who already has it.

What about the increase over the last six years, to 137 cases from 76? Is that significant?

“No,” Mr. Krahenbuhl said. It could be a statistical fluctuation, or it could be a result of better data collection in recent years. In any event, the 137 reported cases last year were fewer than in any year from 1975 to 1996.

So Mr. Dobbs was flat-out wrong. And when I spoke to him yesterday, he admitted as much, sort of. I read him Ms. Romans’s comment — the one with the word “suddenly” in it — and he replied, “I think that is wrong.” He then went on to say that as far as he was concerned, he had corrected the mistake by later broadcasting another report, on the same night as his on-air confrontation with the Southern Poverty Law Center officials. This report mentioned that leprosy had peaked in 1983...".

www.nytimescom

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2007

Congress out of Session for Memorial Day Recess

After completing a first week of debate on the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348), the Senate adjourned on Friday, May 25, for the Memorial Day recess. When Congress reconvenes next Monday, June 4, the Senate is expected to resume debate on immigration reform and begin consideration of critical amendments that could make or break the bill. A vote on final passage of S. 1348 could take place toward the end of the Senate's second week of immigration debate, around June 7-8.

Meanwhile, on the House side, the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law is expected to wrap up its series of hearings on immigration reform after the recess. If the Senate passes an immigration reform bill in early June, the House Immigration Subcommittee will likely proceed with markup hearings on its own bill later that same month. It is not yet clear whether the Subcommittee would use an existing bill as the basis for its markup or begin anew with legislation crafted by subcommittee members.

Visit www.aila.org to contact your member of Congress

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