November 30, 2007
MOBILIZE YOUR CLIENTS ON THE H-1B CRISIS!!!
An important note from the AILA Business Committee:
Dear AILA Colleagues:
On a daily basis, most of us find ourselves advising clients that, although the H-1B visa would be the perfect vehicle for a talented potential hire, H-1Bs are unavailable for the remainder of the fiscal year. We, and our clients, are in a unique position to understand the strain on U.S. employers and the damage to our economy caused by the current H-1B crisis.
We need to exert constant pressure on Congress to alleviate this situation. Only repeated contact by those employers in need of talented workers from abroad will ensure that this issue stays front and center on Capitol Hill.
Our coalition partner, Compete America, has prepared a persuasive letter to Congress that explains the impact of the H-1B crisis. Your clients can send this letter to their U.S. Senators and Representatives asking Congress to take action now to raise or eliminate the H-1B cap. We have crafted, as well, a cover note for you to send to your clients introducing the letter and asking them to finalize it. We have all had numerous clients to whom we have had to deliver the disappointing news that one or more key hires could not be made. It’s time to contact those clients and empower them on this issue.
The AILA Business Committee
November 29, 2007
The Role of Immigrants in the New York State Economy
The Fiscal Policy Institute this month published a report entitled Working for a Better Life: A Profile of Immigrants in the New York State Economy, studying the integral economic and social role immigrants play in that state. The report is part of a joint project with The New York Immigration Coalition called The Truth about Immigrants.
The authors of the report state that "immigrants are such an important part of the New York economy that “cracking down” on immigrants clearly could have unintended consequences with significant negative impacts," not just on the immigrants themselves, but on the entire state at large. Part of the reason for this, the authors assert, is that foreign-born residents, who make up over 30% of the population of workers commuting into New York City each day, and who comprise 50% or more of the suburban New York City workforce in areas such as services, construction and manufacturing, funnel upwards of $229 billion into New York's economy, contributing 22.4 percent of the state's gross domestic product. Combine this economic impact with the undeniable social contributions immigrants make in the state, the authors conclude, and it is clear that "getting the immigration equation right is critical" to New York's success in the future.
The full report is available on the Fiscal Policy Institute's website at; www.fiscalpolicy.org.
November 28, 2007
The House and Senate are in recess until next Tuesday, December 4.
The Senate will convene for pro forma sessions every few days during the two-week Thanksgiving break, instead of a typical recess. No legislative business is expected but the pro forma sessions are intended to block President Bush from making recess appointments.
November 27, 2007
Undocumented immigrant saves Boy: Youth Survives Canyon Crash, Mother Dies
"Illegal Border Crosser Saves Boy, 9 Youth Survives Canyon Crash, Mother Dies
ARIVACA, Ariz. -- Federal agents arrested an illegal border crosser who cared for a 9-year-old boy found wandering alone after his mother died in a canyon crash in southern Arizona.
The boy was looking for help after his mom crashed her van off a cliff south of Arivaca on Thanksgiving Day.
The 45-year-old woman had been driving on a U.S. Forest Service road in a remote part of Santa Cruz County just north of the Mexican border when her Chevrolet Astro failed to negotiate a curve at about 3 p.m., vaulted into the canyon and landed 300 feet from the roadway, Sheriff Tony Estrada said.
The woman, identified as Dawn Alice Tomko, from the small Arizona town of Rimrock north of Phoenix, was still alive but pinned inside, Estrada said
Her son, Christopher, who was unhurt but disoriented, crawled out to get help and was found about two hours later by Jesus Manuel Cordova, 26, of Magdalena de Kino in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, Estrada said.
Unable to pull the mother out, Cordova comforted Christopher while they waited for help. Tomko died a short time later.
"He stayed with him, told him that everything was going to be all right," Estrada said.
As temperatures dropped, he gave him a jacket, built a bonfire and stayed with him until about 8 a.m. Friday, when a group of hunters passed by and called authorities, Estrada said.
Christopher was flown to University Medical Center in Tucson as a precaution but appeared unhurt.
Cordova, meanwhile, was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents who were the first to respond to the call for help. He had been trying to walk into the U.S. when he came across the boy.
Estrada said Christopher and his mother were in the area camping. Tomko's husband had passed away only two months ago, Estrada added.
Estrada said Cordova likely saved the boy and his actions should remind people not to quickly characterize all illegal immigrants as criminals.
"They do get demonized for a lot of reasons and they do a lot of good. Obviously this is one example of what an individual can do," he said...".
November 26, 2007
Emergency Dec. 5 fly-in seeks passage of Save Small Business
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Save Small Business has announced an emergency fly-in for Wednesday, Dec. 5, to push for passage of the Save Small and Seasonal Businesses Act. It is asking employers who rely upon H-2B seasonal guest workers to join it in the nation’s capital to convince legislators of the seriousness of the approaching labor crisis.
If the Act is not passed the H-2B program will restricted to the original 66,000 visas originally authorized by Congress more than a decade ago. The growth of the landscape and other service industries now require many times that number of seasonal employees.
The fly-in is planned for two days after Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess. Save Small Business voice Hank Lavery urges people to begin making their travel arrangements for the fly-in now. Details for meeting and lobbying legislators will be announced soon.
The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), which is supporting the fly-in, advises H-2B users to:
— Call your senators and member of Congress in their Washington, D.C., offices through the Congressional switchboard at 202/225-3121. Ask to speak to the staff member who handles immigration issues. If you are uncertain about what to say, use the sample script on PLANET’s H-2B Toolkit at http://landcarenetwork.org/planetFile/pdfs/H2B_Scrpt.pdf.
— Send an updated letter on your letterhead through PLANET’s Legislative Action Center and also fax it. If you input your address, the appropriate fax number will appear on each letter. It only takes a few minutes at http://www.congressweb.com/cweb4/index.cfm?orgcode=pln&hotissue=38
— Ask your employees to write and call their senators and member of Congress. A letter can be sent through PLANET’s Legislative Action Center at http://www.congressweb.com/cweb4/index.cfm?orgcode=pln&hotissue=46
— A sample letter for H-2B workers to send in English and Spanish can also be found on the PLANET H-2B Toolkit at http://www.landcarenetwork.org/cms/legislation/h2b.html
— Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. A sample letter can be found on the PLANET H-2B Toolkit at http://landcarenetwork.org/planetFile/pdfs/H2B_LetterToTheEditor_Long.pdf.
For more information, contact PLANET’s Tom Delaney at 770/925-7113.
November 25, 2007
NFIB supports workable immigration reform
Editor's note: The following is the text of a letter recently sent to Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.);
"Dear Congressman Shuler,
On behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation's leading small-business advocacy group, I am writing to express our strong support for H.R. 4088, the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007 (SAVE Act).
This legislation takes into account the concerns small-business owners have with illegal immigration, and in particular, the employer verification sections strike a fair balance between increased enforcement and limiting the regulatory burdens placed on small business.
Immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility, and small-business owners believe that Congress needs to fulfill its obligation to enforce our borders and provide a nation-wide employee verification system...".
November 23, 2007
Should you pay premium processing fee of $1,000
I do recommend paying the addition $1,000 fee for a faster response from immigration. The last client who did not pay this initially waited over 6 months for a response then eventually paid the $1,000 fee.
November 22, 2007
New Economic Study Shows Immigration in Cities a Net Positive
Noted scholar Gionvanni Peri, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis and author of a recent landmark study on the positive effects of immigration on overall wages, has produced another insightful, thought-provoking piece, this time on the effects of immigrants on cities. Professor Peri contends that immigration is disproportionately directed towards cities, so it is important to understand what happens to these cities, and the natives who live there, as a result.
In short, Professor Peri concludes that immigrants in general have a net positive effect on natives living in cities, consistent with the findings of other researchers. Specifically, Professor Peri found that immigrants exact positive wage effects on city-dwelling natives, and that immigrants help produce positive housing price effects, as well. For example, an increase in the share of immigrants by 1% increases rents by 1%, housing values by 0.3%, and wages by 0.3-0.4%. These effects are even more pronounced when only high skilled immigrants are taken into account, but, Professor Peri says, even where low-skilled immigrants are concerned the effects are overwhelmingly positive, since most American workers do not compete with them for jobs, yet still benefit from the work low-skilled immigrants do.
To read the full article, visit the VOX website at http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/734
November 21, 2007
Congress Not in Session
The House and Senate are in recess until Tuesday, December 4.
The Senate will convene for pro forma sessions every few days during the two-week Thanksgiving break, instead of a typical recess. No legislative business is expected but the pro forma sessions are intended to block President Bush from making recess appointments.
November 20, 2007
E-3 switching employers; do you have to re-pay the filing fee?
Answer; The filing fees are required each time you switch employers; there is no credit for prior fees paid.
November 19, 2007
THOMPSON IMMIGRATION AD
Actually amnesty worked before when Reagan was the President of the US;
"Thompson is up with a new TV ad in Iowa on the heels of today's CBS/New York Times poll, showing him lingering in single digits and in fourth place in the state. The ad is on immigration and is called, "No Amnesty." Also, today New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced he is scrapping his driver's licenses for illegal immigrants plan.
In the ad, Thompson is sitting at a diner counter and reading the newspaper before he gives his take on immigration directly into the camera. “And most of us have a good idea about how to start fixing it-secure our borders, and enforce the law,” Thompson says. “Giving up, by granting amnesty is not the answer.” He calls the immigration problem “a matter of national security....".
November 18, 2007
Dead soldier's dad gets reprieve in immigration case
Here is a case where dying for your country is not enough to save your father;
"U.S. immigration officials have granted the father of a U.S.-born soldier killed in Iraq a reprieve from deportation while Congress considers a private bill that would give him a green card.
Enrique Soriano, an illegal immigrant and the father of Pfc. Armando Soriano, was facing deportation from Houston until U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials recently decided to grant him "deferred action," which will allow him to live and work legally in the U.S. for one year, said Maria Elena Garcia-Upson, a spokeswoman for USCIS.
Officials with the agency formally notified Soriano's attorney, Isaias Torres, of the reprieve by fax on Wednesday. It is effective for one year from the date of its request by the USCIS district director in Houston, meaning it will expire Sept. 10, 2008...".
November 17, 2007
Federal Medicaid Rules Aimed at Weeding Out Undocumented Actually Bar Many U.S. Citizens from Health Care
According to a new report by the Oregon Department of Human Services, new federal rules that require Oregon to verify the identity and citizenship of individuals applying for Medicaid-funded programs have barred over 1,000 Oregonians, mostly children and citizens, from getting health care.
“The new rules were imposed in a misguided attempt to keep non-citizens from receiving health care benefits for which they are not eligible. Ironically, the primary impact has been to keep citizens from receiving health care benefits for which they are eligible,” said Janet Bauer, a policy analyst at the Oregon Center for Public Policy. Bauer noted that 91 percent of denied individuals reside in households where English is the primary language.
The report also shows that children have been disproportionately harmed by the new provisions. The state study found that nearly two-thirds of those who were denied health services were children. “The federal rules have backfired in Oregon and kids are getting the brunt of it,” said Bauer.
The complete report is available on the Oregon Department of Human Services website at http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/citizenship/report0705.pdf
November 16, 2007
ID Cards for Residents Pass a Vote in California
Great news from San Francisco on dealing the reality of immigration;
By JESSE McKINLEY, Published: November 15, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 14 — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has given preliminary approval to an ordinance allowing municipal identification cards to be issued to anyone living in the city, regardless of their legal status.
The proposal passed the first of two required votes on Tuesday night, putting San Francisco, with a population of 725,000, on track to become the largest city in the nation to issue identification cards to anyone who requests one and proves residence.
In June, New Haven, Conn., passed a similar measure, believed to be the first in the nation. Since then, several other cities, including New York, have floated the idea.
In San Francisco, supporters said that the ordinance was intended to make life easier for the large number of illegal immigrants working in the city, many of whom cannot get access to services because they have no formal identification. The city already has a “sanctuary” policy forbidding local law enforcement or other officials to assist with immigration enforcement.
“I think it’s admitting the reality of the situation that we depend on, our tourist and hotel industry depends on, a labor force that’s supplied by, for lack of a better term, undocumented residents,” said Tom Ammiano, the supervisor who sponsored the bill. Mr. Ammiano described the measure as “a passport of sorts,” to “take the kid to the library or open a bank account, or report a crime without being deported...".
November 15, 2007
Critical Response to Study Downplaying Farm Labor Shortage
Nationally renowned agricultural economist Dr. James S. Holt has issued an analysis entitled "The Case for Agricultural Immigration Reform" which is highly critical of the "superficial and complacent conclusions" reached by Dr. Phillip Martin in a recent study on farm labor. Dr. Martin's study, "Immigration Reform and Farm Labor Shortages", concludes that farm labor shortages are not a reality and has been touted by restrictionists groups as an excuse for continued Congressional inaction on immigration reform.
However, Dr. Holt contends that the analysis is extremely superficial, and the conclusions are inconsistent with the data. Most importantly, the study ignores the most relevant data -- data that clearly point to a severe shortage of legal U.S. agricultural workers and raise troubling public policy questions. Dr. Holt concludes by stating that:
"Unless Congress acts to address the crisis in a timely manner, America faces a steady loss of control of our food supply as imports increase and American market share declines. U.S. producers must struggle to use a limited and unresponsive temporary worker program known as H-2A, or risking devastating consequences if targeted for raids."
November 14, 2007
Congress to Continue Wrestling with Appropriations Bills
This week Congress will furiously attempt to make headway on the remaining appropriations bills before a two week recess begins this Friday, November 16.
A conference committee, tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill (H.R. 3093/S.1745), is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, November 14. The conferees will have to decide the fate of an immigration-related amendment (S.AMDT. 3311) offered by Senator Mikulski (D-MD) that would extend the "returning worker exemption" in the H-2B program for fiscal year 2008. Though the amendment has reportedly been stricken from the final bill, the ultimate fate of the Mikulski amendment will not be confirmed until the conference takes place, and the conference report is made available.
Democratic leaders want to send a final bill to the president by the end of the week; the White House has threatened a veto because of the bill's spending levels.
November 13, 2007
No immigration bond in Nashville Tennessee under 287g
Immigrants are initially detained by law enforcement officers based on a criminal infraction. They are then taken to the jail where a determination is made of the criminal bond and they are served with an NTA. The jail has a policy of not posting an immigration bond. Their access to attorneys is severely limited. The EOIR with jurisdiction in Memphis has stated that because they are not under ICE custody they have no right to a bond hearing.
I disagree custody begins with the NTA being served. After completion of their criminal case they are transferred to another facility out of state. It is extremely difficult to determine where they will go. Normally we learn where they are one week later. The EOIR in Memphis no longer has jurisdiction as they are out of state. The EOIR in Atlanta has jurisdiction but will not grant bond as they are in transit to Louisiana. Once reaching Louisana the EOIR in Oakdale will set bond. Time in custody to reach Oakdale is from one to three months.
November 12, 2007
Senate Subcommittee Hearings on "One Face at the Border" Initiative
The Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, will hold a hearing on "Human Capital Needs of the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection 'One Face at the Border' Initiative" on Tuesday, November 13 at 10:00 am in room 342 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
The hearing will review the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the traveler inspection process at land and air ports of entry entitled: Border Security: Despite Progress, Weaknesses in Traveler Inspections Exist at Our Nation's Ports of Entry (GAO-08-129).
November 11, 2007
Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America's Children
There are approximately five million children living in the U.S. with at least one undocumented parent. The well-being of many of these children, many of whom are U.S. citizens and have known no other country but the U.S., has been threatened over the past year due to intensified immigration enforcement activities conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through large-scale worksite raids of businesses that hire undocumented workers. By arresting and deporting their parents, these raids have put the children of undocumented workers at great risk of family separation, economic hardship, and psychological trauma, as they are invariably dependent on their parents for protection, education, development, and emotional and financial support.
Sadly, this situation is not likely to improve any time soon. With the collapse of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, and the all but certain appropriation of additional enforcement resources to ICE, it is likely that the number of worksite actions will increase, and that children will continue to be negatively affected. To better understand this situation, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), together with the Urban Institute, studied the problem and released a report of their findings last month, based on in-depth study of exactly how these recent immigration enforcement actions have affected children of immigrants in three communities—Greeley, CO, Grand Island, NE and New Bedford, MA. The primary goal of this report, the full text of which is now available online, is to go beyond the human interest stories reported in the media and provide a factual basis for discussing the impact of worksite enforcement operations on children with undocumented parents. The report also provides detailed recommendations to help mitigate the harmful effects of worksite raids on children.
November 10, 2007
Cyberstates 2007: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry
This report from AeA (formerly the American Electronics Association) details national and state trends in high-tech employment, wages, and other key economic factors. The Cyberstates report is based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data collected from all businesses in the United States. The report shows that over the past two years there has been an increase in the amount of U.S. high-tech industry jobs by four percent. In 2006, the high-tech industry continued growing, adding nearly 150,000 net jobs for a total of 5.8 million in the United States, an increase from the 87,400 jobs added in 2005.
The complete report is available on the AeA website; http://www.aeanet.org/publications/idjj_cyberstates2007_overview.asp
November 09, 2007
H-1B Blackout Back in the Spotlight! Reaffirm Support for the Program
The immediacy of fighting the H-1B fee hike has waned since we learned that the Grassely-Sanders amendment was stricken from the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act conference report. But, we are not completely out of the woods; the amendment could reemerge at any time! It's important to continue showing broad support for the H-1B program.
You and your clients can help!!
Send an email from Contact Congress at www.aila.org
Take action by entering your zipcode in the box below. You will be automatically directed to a Contact Congress letter that is specialized for your Representative.
Your clients can play a pivotal role in the in the effort to promote the H-1B program! Encourage them to voice their powerful objection directly to policy makers.
Send an email from Contact Congress at www.aila.org
Your clients can take action by entering their zipcode in the box below. They will be automatically directed to a Contact Congress letter that is specialized for their Representative.
November 08, 2007
House Hearings on Comprehensive Immigration Reform; AILA President-Elect Chuck Kuck to Testify
"The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, will hold a hearing on (H.R. 750), the "Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2007" on Thursday, November 8 at 10:00 am in room 2237 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Though the complete witness list is not available at this time, AILA President-Elect Charles "Chuck" Kuck will be among those testifying at the hearing. A transcript of the hearing will be posted on InfoNet as it becomes available.
The hearing will be webcast live on the House Judiciary Committee website".
November 07, 2007
My Opinion piece in the Tennessean newspaper
Protection is as vital as law enforcement
By MARIO RAMOS
It's a brave new world in law enforcement since the failure of comprehensive immigration reform this past summer.
In the wake of Congress' incapacity to pass any immigration-related measure at the federal level, states and cities are now grappling with enforcement procedures on their own.
While several state and local law enforcement agencies have enthusiastically endorsed additional immigration enforcement opportunities in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the broader question at hand seems to be not only how to enforce U.S. immigration law, but how to protect the rights of the immigrant populations, documented or undocumented, targeted in these enforcement initiatives whose dominant language is not English.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, proposal for overcoming the language barrier would be to increase the number of bilingual law enforcement officers, both in ICE and in local and state forces. However, in their rush to purge the country of all "illegals," paranoid restrictionists have hastily enacted DHS programs such as the Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act, which have increasingly intertwined immigration enforcement with local police and public safety officials.
More not necessarily better
The rationale of "more is better" crumbles in this case, because instead of having more effective enforcement tactics by federal officials who know and understand the intricacies of immigration law and can communicate these particulars to limited-English immigrants, there are just more law enforcement officials attempting to enforce a law that they cannot fully comprehend on a population with whom they cannot fully communicate.
Section 287(g) outlines a partnership between local and federal offices wherein designated local officers are permitted to enforce federal immigration law provided that ICE officials provide "sufficient" training (a five-week program) and supervision.
Required for eligibility in the program? U.S. citizenship, a background check and a drug screen. Not required? Foreign language capabilities, language instruction or incentives for officers who do choose to learn. Can you really blame these local police forces for turning a deaf ear to the language barrier issue?
Another option for overcoming the language barrier would be to (gasp) adhere to ICE procedures and allow detained immigrants access to legal counsel and contact with their consulate. While this is a policy in ICE handbooks on detentions, its enforcement seems to vary with location. The puzzle here is in why ICE would limit access to attorneys and consulate officials who can communicate with detainees, thus facilitating ICE's task.
While this option doesn't necessarily ensure that police and public safety officials overcome language barriers, it does provide some sort of avenue for communication between law enforcement and detained immigrants, and ultimately facilitates the legal process.
Here is a reply to my opinion piece; apparently all those language schools in Switzerland were put to good use. Switzerland has four languages; Swiss, Italian, French and German;
Make immigrants here learn English
To the Editor:
I came legally to the U.S. in 1964, after a 2-year process of filling out on told forms and interviews at the American Consulate in Zurich, Switzerland.
All forms where in English and one requirement was to meet with a consulate officer to prove sufficient command of the English language.
This was in addition of an examination by a consulate-approved doctor and providing a work contract in America for a company that would be responsible for my conduct and me for five years.
My 6 year-old son was put straight in an English-speaking class, without any help of language assistance.
My question is why do Mario Ramos and others request that we all now learn the language of the immigrants? Should it not be the other way around?
Manny Moritz, Ridgetop 37152"
Senate Continues Consideration of Farm Bill
This week the Senate will continue consideration of the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (H.R. 2419). Earlier in the week Senator Feinstein (D-CA) dropped plans to offer AgJOBS (S. 340) as an amendment to the farm bill. The California Democrat made her concession as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated he would attempt to avoid non-germane amendments to the bill. While Senator Reid has expressed his desire to pass the farm bill before Congress recesses for Thanksgiving, President Bush has declared that he intends to veto the bill.
Despite this setback, Senator Feinstein has reiterated her commitment to moving AgJOBS this year, either by seeking time on the Senate floor or as an amendment on a viable legislative vehicle."
November 06, 2007
The immigration debate: 70 percent of Mexicans in California are U.S. citizens
By Javier Erik Olveraand Mike Swift, Mercury News, 11/05/2007
"For the first time in the most current wave of immigration, U.S. Census Bureau figures show that 70 percent of California's Mexican population are U.S. citizens, blunting widespread belief the state is overrun by illegal immigrants.
The findings are part of new data that casts a spotlight on a steady demographic transition between 2000 and 2006, with the state leading the nation in the number of Mexican immigrants gaining citizenship.
California's Mexican population, boosted by a boom in births, is moving steadily into citizenship, with Mexican-Americans comprising about 7.6 million of the state's 36 million residents in 2006.
"California has reached a steady state with regard to immigration," said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California. "The number of new foreign-born arrivals is being offset by the number of babies who are being born here and the number of parents who are naturalizing."
Nationally, the U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics estimates about 11.6 million illegal immigrants in the country as of January 2006, with about 6.6 million of that total being from Mexico. The Census Bureau says there are 11.5 million Mexican immigrants in the United States.
The 2006 census data, released several weeks ago, is based on a statistical sample and therefore contains some statistical error...".
November 05, 2007
AgJOBS Consideration Nearing - Take Action Today!
The Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 or Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) is likely headed to Senate floor in the coming week. IImmigration advocates believe the Farm Bill is an excellent legislative vehicle to carry the AgJOBS bill (S. 340 and H.R. 371) as an amendment.
November 04, 2007
AILF’s Exchange Visitor Program Offers Guidance on Australia’s Work and Holiday Visa Announcement
"Recently AILF's Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) has been fielding questions regarding the Work and Holiday Visa announcement made in September by the government of Australia. The announcement has generated much excitement as it has been reported in the U.S. press as an unlimited opportunity for young Americans and Australians to work in each other's countries.
Sounds too good to be true? Find out the facts and what's really involved with the Australian Work and Holiday visa.
Also, did you know that AILF is now able to sponsor both trainees and interns?
Interns will be applicants who are either in a post-secondary school program, or who are within one year of graduation. The internship must be in their field of study. Trainees will be applicants who either have a related degree or certificate plus one year of directly related work experience in the filed of training, or who have five years of directly related work experience in their field of training.
If you have a client that may benefit from a J-1/Exchange Visitor Program, please contact the AILF EVP staff at email@example.com for complete details, eligibility requirements, and application information".
November 03, 2007
H-1B Blackout Back in the Spotlight! Say NO to the Fee Hike! Say YES to More Numbers!
As if the H-1B blackout isn't harsh enough, now some senators want to make it even more difficult for U.S. businesses to hire the skilled workers they need to succeed. Last week, during the Senate debate on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, the Grassley-Sanders amendment, a bad-for-business measure, was added to the bill by voice vote. The amendment would impose a supplemental fee of $3500 to the existing fees associated with the H-1B visa program.
While the Senate adopted the Grassley-Sanders amendment, the House version of this Appropriations bill does not include any H-1B provisions. On Thursday, key members of the Senate and House will meet, in Conference, to reconcile their separately passed versions of the bill. We are working to encourage House Conferees to strike the Senate-added Grassley-Sanders amendment from the final Conference Report.
You and your clients can help too!!
All AILA members and their H-1B clients can help oppose the fee increase by sending letters and calling U.S. Representatives.
1. Send an email from Contact Congress at www.aila.org
Take action by entering your zipcode in the box below. You will be automatically directed to a Contact Congress letter that is specialized for your Representative. If your Representative is a conferee, you'll send a letter about your opposition to the fee increase. If your Representative is not a conferee, you'll send a letter that expresses support for the H-1B program and the need for more numbers.
November 02, 2007
Letter from AILA President Kathleen Campbell Walker to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Opposing the H-1B Fee Increase
October 31, 2007, from AILA Infonet;
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Madam Speaker:
As President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, I am writing to respectfully urge you to strike the Grassley-Sanders amendment that was added to the Senate's version of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R. 3043). The Grassley-Sanders amendment #3396, as modified, would create an unjustifiable new fee for U.S. businesses that seek to stimulate American innovation and global competition. Adding what amounts to a $3500 tax on the existing fees associated with the H-1B visa program, which include a training fee of up to $1500 as well as various filing costs, makes it prohibitively expensive for many American businesses to hire the highly skilled workers they need to grow.
As you know, the H-1B visa program is utilized by U.S. businesses, school districts, universities, hospitals, and other entities to supplement their existing work force with foreign workers in occupations that require experience in a specialized field. The current regulatory requirements and costs of the H-1B program already render the program a last resort for many entities to fill essential positions. Typical H-1B occupations include scientists, architects, engineers, computer programmers, teachers, accountants, and doctors. As you also know, the demand for these visas far out strips the supply as underscored by the allocation of all available H-1B visas this year on the first day they became available. In April of 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) received more than 130,000 applications for the 65,000 available H-1B visas. Due to this high demand, H-1B petitioners were subject to a lottery system for selection. Thus, many timely filings were rejected after the expenditure of countless hours of preparation to comply with current regulations.
The Grassley-Sanders amendment is essentially a tax hike on our nation's most innovative businesses, which are in a global competition for market share to the benefit of the U.S. economy. This draconian fee proposal comes after major fee increases by USCIS this year with no relief from the woefully insufficient annual allotment of H-1B visas. Moreover, this tax hike is flatly inconsistent with the principles of your innovation agenda.
At a time when the European Union is working on ways to attract these same workers by creating the "Blue Card," a temporary work visa for highly educated foreign professionals, our policies should facilitate recruitment of these very same workers. This ill advised, unilateral fee increase will make it even more difficult for American companies to recruit the top foreign students graduating from U.S. universities and will push these future innovators to work for our competitors overseas.
If the United States is to remain on the cutting edge of technology and business innovation as well as enable U.S. secondary and primary educational institutions to fill critical positions, we must continue to have a robust H-1B program, not an inaccessible one.
Again, I urge you to strike the Grassley-Sanders amendment from the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act conference report. Thank you for your attention to this important issue. If we can provide any additional information to your office on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kathleen Campbell Walker
Cc: Majority Leader Hoyer
Republican Leader Boehner
Majority Whip Clyburn
Republican Whip Blunt
Subcommittee Chairwoman Lofgren
November 01, 2007
House and Senate to Conference Appropriations Bills that Include H-1B Fee Hike Amendment
House and Senate appropriators are tentatively scheduled to convene a conference on Thursday, November 1st to combine the Defense, Military Construction-VA, and Labor-HHS-Education appropriations into one single bill.
One of the issues with which legislators will have to contend is whether or not to remove the Grassley-Sanders amendment (H.ADMT. 3396) from the Labor-HHS appropriations bill (H.R. 3043) which would add an additional fee of $3,500 to the H-1B visa program. AILA strongly opposes the additional fee. See Take Action below for a menu of options you can pursue to help register your opposition and the opposition of your clients to this fee hike at www.aila.org
Looming over any progress made during the conference, is the veto threat President Bush issued over most appropriations passed in the House and Senate this year, often citing spending levels as the reason.