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February 27, 2009

If 287g was a failure in AZ with 1,434 people arrested; in Nashville over 6,000 have been arrested?

Report: ICE program used by Arpaio a failure
by Daniel González - Feb. 26, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

"Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's continuing and controversial crackdown on illegal immigration and the federal program that lets him identify and arrest undocumented immigrants is a financial and public-safety failure, according to a new report.

The program, known as 287 (g), has been touted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a public-safety measure aimed at removing criminal illegal immigrants. But the Sheriff's Office and other participating agencies have focused on easy targets such as traffic violators and day laborers who pose little threat, says the report by Justice Strategies, a non-profit nonpartisan research group based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Justice Strategies is a New York-based nonprofit research group that focuses on humane and cost-effective approaches to criminal justice and immigration law enforcement.

Arpaio defended his participation in the program, which he said has led to the identification of thousands of illegal immigrants.
Though ICE touts the nearly 8-year-old program as a money saver, Arizona taxpayers are footing a greater share of the bill for enforcing immigration laws, usually the responsibility of the federal government, according to the report to be released today. Enforcing immigration laws detracts local police from their primary job of fighting crime and keeping neighborhoods safe, the report says, and race, not crime, has fueled the program's growth in Phoenix and other areas of the country with growing Latino populations.

"It had enough time to prove itself, and it failed," said Aarti Shahani, a researcher with the Justice Strategies group who co-authored the report. "The immigration system is broken, and 287 (g) is not the way to fix it. It's like pouring water into a cup that is broken, and the water keeps leaking out. It isn't doing anything to solve the problem."

The report concludes by recommending that the Obama administration terminate the program, which was created under the Clinton administration but wasn't promoted until after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, under the Bush administration.

The report comes amid growing opposition to Arpaio's immigration crackdowns. The National Day Labor Organizing Network, Somos America and other pro-immigrant groups plan to hold demonstrations on Friday and Saturday in Phoenix and other parts of the country calling for an end to the crackdowns.

Less than two weeks ago, four key Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate complaints that since Arpaio signed a 287 (g) agreement with ICE in 2007, deputies have unconstitutionally used skin color to look for illegal immigrants as part of a series of crime sweeps and work-site raids. The four Democrats also asked for Napolitano, the former Arizona governor, to terminate Arpaio's agreement if any problems can't be fixed.

Arpaio this week sent a letter to the four Democrats, including U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, saying that his office is abiding by the agreement and inviting them to come see the program for themselves.

Despite the criticism, polls show that Arpaio's crackdowns have broad public support. In November, he was re-elected to his fifth four-year term.

Under the 287 (g) program, Maricopa County sheriff's deputies have arrested 1,434 people for immigration violations, often after they had been encountered by deputies investigating state crimes, Arpaio said.

Michael Keegan, a spokesman for Homeland Security, said the Justice Strategies report would be reviewed.

"The department takes very seriously any allegations of civil-rights abuses, and Secretary Napolitano is undertaking a broad review of all immigration programs, including the 287 (g) agreements," he said.
ICE credits the program with identifying more than 70,000 people suspected of being in the country illegally.

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and author of the 287 (g) program, defended it.
"It is astonishing that anyone would want to end a successful, voluntary program that protects American communities from criminal illegal immigrants," Smith said".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2009

Not the change we believe in; Obama Administration executed the first worksite raid

Dear all,

Yesterday, in Bellingham, Washington, the Obama Administration executed the first worksite raid of his administration. 126 workers including US citizens were reportedly questioned and temporarily detained at the worksite and approximately 28 workers were chained and transported to a detention facility.

Please forward the action alert below, developed by the National Immigration Forum, for immediate action.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is working with members of Congress and the Administration to alert them to our concerns about continuing the failed enforcement-only policies of the Bush Administration.

Secretary Napolitano testified today before the House Homeland Security Committee and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) asked a question regarding this raid in Bellingham, Washington.


1. Call the White House at 202-456-1414 and tell President Obama:

Business as usual at ICE is not change we can believe in.
Now more than ever, a top to bottom review of ICE priorities and it enforcement operations is needed.

At a minimum, until the new ICE Director and an oversight strategy is in place, please halt these types of enforcement actions.
Just last week, you promised that you are committed to fixing the broken immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform. The President can't say one thing and do another. The community needs clarity.

Latino and immigrant voters turned out in massive numbers to vote for change and we will be watching very closely how you handle this incident, these detainees and their legal rights, and the immigration issue in general.

2. Issue a press release or statement expressing your concerns. Sample below.

Click the following links for: Talking Points on the Raid, Forum Press Statement, and sample press statement at http://www.immigrationforum.org

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2009

Advocacy message from Marshall Fitz, Director, AILA Advocacy

Director's Corner, Inside Politics;

People not immersed in the immigration policy debate (and some people who are) seem surprised when I argue that immigration reform must and will go forward this year. Frankly, I’m surprised by their surprise.

Times are really tough, but they aren’t hopeless. And the notion that Congress can’t or shouldn’t address any other pressing policy questions facing the nation because the economy has tanked is nonsensical. Obviously, legislative efforts to address the economic crisis and facilitate recovery are and should be the Federal government’s top priority. But this Congress and this Administration were elected to solve a host of tough problems, including reform of our failing immigration system. And immigration reform will advance, not detract from, economic recovery (more on that in a future post).

“That’s all well and good,” argue the naysayers, “but what evidence do we have that Congress won’t just use the crisis as political cover to run from the difficult issues?” Well, I can’t speak for other issues, but I have a number of clear answers as to why they shouldn’t run from immigration this year. More importantly, there is one simple but overwhelming piece of evidence that they won’t run from immigration reform this year: because he said so.

Yep, the President not once, but twice this month has renewed his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform:

"What…[c]ontinues to be a priority for the country is comprehensive immigration reform that provides not only better security on the borders and more effective sanctions on employers but also provides a path to citizenship for those who have been living here and are committed to becoming US citizens…Let's evaluate the laws that are working and the laws that are not working. Let's take into account some of the strains that are being placed on families…" (Interview of the President by "El Pistolero", Radio, February 12, 2009)

Yesterday, by phone with Los Angeles-based and nationally syndicated Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, the President stressed that time is of the essence for immigration reform:

"…we've got to have comprehensive immigration reform…[We] need to get started working on it now. It's going to take some time to move that forward, but I'm very committed to making it happen. And we're going to be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months." (Interview of the President by Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, Radio, February 17, 2009)

So don’t take it from me; take it from him. We need to maintain the drumbeat and show our Members of Congress that immigration reform can, must, and will happen this year.

Join the battle on March 19th and help us fight for urgently needed reforms by visiting your Members of Congress in D.C. or in their District offices. The National Day of Action is AILA's opportunity to show united support for a workable fix to our broken immigration system. Register online at www.aila.org/dayofaction.

Tune in next week. Same Pulse time, same Pulse channel.

Marshall Fitz
Director, AILA Advocacy

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2009

Obama and Immigration Reform, Under the Radar … For Now


News Analysis: By John Rudolph, FI2W Executive Producer

"For a new president who is still in the process of defining his administration’s policies, the media scrutiny can be intense. Almost immediately after taking office President Obama experienced what it’s like to be under the microscope as he and his White House team began to grapple with the economic crisis. Reporters guided by the advice to “follow the money” in the stimulus package began pulling apart the president’s proposals even before a penny was spent.

But, it seems, all issues do not rise to the same level of media attention – even highly controversial ones like immigration reform. Last week Mr. Obama went on the popular Spanish-language radio program Piolín por la Mañana and stated that his administration will start to draw up comprehensive immigration reform legislation, “over the next several months.” The president also told the show’s host, Eddie “Piolín” Sotelo that before proposing new legislation:

“We’re going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens, like you did, that they are able to do it; that it’s cheaper, that it’s faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members.”

Mr. Obama’s comments – striking in their specificity — were reported by Spanish-language media, but virtually ignored by mainstream English-language newspapers, TV and web sites. It’s a continuation of a pattern that was established during last fall’s presidential campaign. When he was running for president, virtually the only place where Mr. Obama talked about the issue of immigration was in Spanish-language media. His Republican rival, Senator John McCain, followed an almost identical strategy. As a result, consumers of Spanish-language media heard a debate over the two candidate’s positions on immigration that was missing from mainstream media.

According to The Washington Post’s James Rainey, by making himself available to the often-marginalized ethnic press, the president “has signaled that he may shake up the traditional protocols of Washington journalism.” But there’s more to it than that. Even as Mr. Obama says “we are one America” he seems to understand that there are groups – including journalists – in this country that don’t talk to one another, never compare notes, and hardly acknowledge each other’s existence. The powerful anti-immigrant sentiment that can be found across the country is, at least partly, a product of immigrant and native-born communities that exist side-by-side, but seem to inhabit parallel universes. And it is the anti-immigrant forces that the president will have to win over if meaningful changes to the nation’s immigration laws are to be enacted.

You can’t fault the president for his choice last week of a friendly environment to talk about immigration reform. But at some point Mr. Obama will have to take his proposals to the whole country, not just the Spanish-language radio audience. That’s when the gulf separating the different sides in this debate will come more sharply into focus. It will be the president’s challenge to bring all the factions together to find a way to fix an immigration system that just about everyone agrees is broken".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2009

Gutierrez Expands "Family Unity" Immigration Campaign: 16 Cities in Five Weeks

Interfaith Communities Unite to Document Urgency for Immigration Reform in 2009

February 18, 2009

Media Contact: Rebecca Dreilinger (202) 225-8203; Community Organizer Contact: Enrique Fernandez (202) 225-8203


(Washington DC) Today, U.S. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) announced he will expand his five-week national tour—now visiting 16 U.S. cities—to document the harm caused to citizens across our nation in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform.

In an unprecedented nationwide campaign, Gutierrez will visit local communities and churches to spearhead the Family Unity Campaign, which will hold community meetings, prayer vigils and rallies for thousands of U.S. citizens whose families have been or risk being torn apart by a broken immigration system. Many members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are also holding similar events in their districts.

When & Where:

1. February 27, Providence, RI

2. February 28, Atlanta, GA

3. March 1, Albuquerque, NM

4. March 7, Ontario, CA

5. March 7, San Francisco, CA

6. March 8, Phoenix, AZ

7. March 13 El Paso, TX

8. March 13, Los Angeles, CA*

9. March 14, Dallas, TX

10. March 15, Mission, TX

11. March 21, Chicago, IL

12. March 21, Joliet, IL

13. March 22, Milwaukee, WI

14. March 27, Las Vegas, NV

15. March 28, Orlando, FL

16. March 29, Miami, FL

17. April 4, Philadelphia, PA

"As a nation —as citizens— we cannot wait any longer for fair and just immigration reform," said Rep. Gutierrez. "Across America, parents and children, husbands and wives are being torn apart by a system that values quotas over family values and which undermines our economic security in a time of crisis. It is for this reason that U.S. citizens in each of these cities are joining this campaign and standing up for real, lasting change."

Already nearly 40 evangelical church leaders, representing nearly 20,000 parishioners, have joined Rep. Gutierrez to demonstrate the vast numbers of American families—from all political backgrounds—who demand change from a legal system that undermines family values. U.S. citizens whose families have been affected will be available at each event to share their specific stories with press.

*The event in Los Angeles will not be attended by Rep. Gutierrez. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, and Rep. Linda Sanchez will attend.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2009

Removals Involving Illegal 108,434 Alien Parents of United States Citizen Children

DHS OIG Report on Removal of Parents of U.S. Citizen Children (.pdf 492 KB) On 2/13/09 the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report that addresses the number of instances over the past 10 years in which a foreign national parent of a U.S. citizen child was removed from the country. Following the report is a memo in response from John Torres, Acting Assistant Secretary, ICE; at http://www.dhs.gov/xoig/assets/mgmtrpts/OIG_09-15_Jan09.pdf

Here is an excerpt from the report;

'Results of Review
Between FYs 1998 and 2007, 2,199,138 alien removals occurred in the
United States, involving 108,434 alien parents of U.S. citizen children. Alien parents were removed because of immigration violations, such as being present without authorization or committing criminal violations that affect immigration status. ICE does not collect data on the following requested items: (1) the number of instances in which both parents were removed; (2) the length of time a parent lived in the United States before removal; or (3) whether the U.S. citizen children remained in the United
States after the parents’ removal. ICE reported detaining no U.S. citizen children'.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:07 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2009

Immigration Subcommittee Announced For 111th Congress

Subcommittees Announced For 111th Congress

On February 12, Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Arlen Specter announced membership lists for the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittees in the 111th Congress.

There will be six subcommittees: Administrative Oversight and the Courts; Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights; The Constitution; Crime and Drugs; Immigration, Refugees and Border Security; and Terrorism and Homeland Security

Immigration, Refugees and Border Security
Democratic Members
Charles Schumer, New York (Chairman)
Patrick Leahy, Vermont
Dianne Feinstein, California
Richard Durbin, Illinois
Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
Ron Wyden, Oregon

Republican Members
John Cornyn, Texas (Ranking Member)
Charles Grassley, Iowa
Jon Kyl, Arizona
Jeff Sessions, Alabama

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2009

Glendale Elementary dual immersion school; listent to this webcast where my sons attend school

Getting Into Glendale, Tuesday, February 17th, 2009; http://wpln.org/?p=1601

Glendale SchoolThe Metro School Board considers it one of the best “problems” the district could ever have, a school so popular, demand far exceeds supply. This year a change in how students are admitted to Glendale Elementary should have given kids from all over Nashville a better chance of getting in the unique school, but that’s not happening, and it has a lot to do with the school’s popularity with its neighbors. WPLN’s Anne Marshall reports.

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

February 14, 2009

Immigrant Visa Processing at Juarez February 2009

Here is an email from Steven C. Thal, P.A., 10580 Wayzata Boulevard, Ste. 100, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55305, Tel. 952-541-1090 re a a current narrative from one of his clients who just returned from the immigrant visa process at Juarez. By way of background "Francisca" is an 18 year old adopted daughter (non-orphan). "Gabe" is the adoptive father. Francisa was adopted under age 16, but had been ewi coming into the U.S. She had been adopted in Texas. We made sure she returned to Mexico to get her Immigrant Visa before she had accrued 180 days of unlawful presence following her 18th birthday. Thus, she did not require a waiver for unlawful presence.
The client's narrative follows--Steve Thal

I thought I'd let you know that we made it home from Mexico early Sunday morning, and Francisca got her visa! We're so relieved and excited!

There were so many questions that we had before we left that we thought we'd pass some information on to you for those who come after us. We went to the medical clinic in Juarez called Servicios Medicos on Lopez Mateos Avenue.This is the clinic closest to the previous location of the Consulate.

Clinica Medica Internacional is the clinic down the street from the Holiday Inn and the current/new Consulate. We saw that both clinics had secure courtyards for those waiting in line and those waiting for people inside the clinics. We did not feel unsafe or in any way threatened while we waited.

The clinic was extremely crowded, and they did not allow us in the building with Francisca since she is not a minor. The security person inside the clinic actually grabbed her papers from me, handed them to her, and sent me back outside. We tried to argue since the outside security let me in with her, but he wouldn't budge. All in all, she spent 4 1/2 hours in the clinic.
The drew blood, did a chest x-ray, and gave her 4 vaccines, which she did * not* need. Anyone else who goes needs to know that they're going to have to stand their ground about the vaccines if they know they don't need vaccines.

I was planning to be with Francisca, and she was not prepared to talk with them about vaccines. I assumed that her medical records would speak for themselves. So, I wasn't too worried. According to Francisca, they didn't even discuss the vaccines with her. They looked over her records and then sent a nurse in to give her a bunch of shots. They gave her varicella vaccine, though she's already had chicken pox, and that we clearly stated on her vaccine record from the states. They also gave her a tetanus shot, though her records indicate that she was up to date. They gave her the HPV vaccine, which is not listed as a vaccine required by the Consulate. And they gave her pheumococcal vaccine, which I overlooked at home, and she may have actually needed that one. All in all, the clinic visit cost $500.

Fortunately the clinic takes American credit cards, as we were not prepared to spend all our cash our first day in Mexico. I have the feeling that the vaccines are one of the only real money-makers for the clinic, and people need to be prepared to stand their ground if they don't need them.

Our Consulate appointment was scheduled for 1:45pm Thursday. It appears that they don't take any appointments after that, as it takes them more than the rest of the day to finish the cases they have begun by then. On Thursday they fingerprinted Francisca, had her sign something about not getting married within a certain period of time, and took another picture of her.

That was it for the day, and they scheduled another appointment for 9:15am Friday for her interview. She was inside the Consulate for 2 1/2 hours on Thursday. They *did* allow Gabe to go in with her since she's only 18 and, I think, because it was a parent-child petition. The people at the Consulate were courteous, even friendly. Everything just took a long time. The security guard outside the Consulate told us that we should expect to wait 4-6 hours for her. We waited in the parking lot, which, right now, is about half a block down the street from the Consulate behind a construction site for a new mall.

Another thing people should know is that you really don't have to get to the Consulate more than half an hour before the appointment. Then, when they get there, they should walk right up to the security people and show their appointment papers. If you have an appointment scheduled in the next half hour, they'll let you into the building right away. If you are more than half an hour ahead of schedule they will send you to wait along a fence some distance away.

On Friday we went back to the Consulate, and it took about 1 1/2 hours to wait and get through the interview. The interviewer told Gabe that she doesn't really have the power to turn down visas unless a person doesn't have all their paperwork. I don't know if that's true or not, but she basically said she had to approve Francisca's visa as long as everything was in order. We talked to a number of people in Mexico before we went to the appointment, though, and other people told us that it seems more like you're at the mercy of your interviewer and they can decide whatever they want. I don't know what's true. The very first question she asked was how we met Francisca and why she needed to be adopted. Gabe said it appeared that this was the most important question she had, and this was the question that would send up "red flags" if there were any. It appeared to be a routine question in cases of adoption. Francisca said the majority of the interview was addressed to Gabe, except when she need to swear that all her documents were true and correct. The interviewer was warm and friendly, and even got teary-eyed while Gabe was talking about us adopting Francisca.

We thought we'd be done with everything once Francisca was done with her interview at the Consulate, but that was not the case. The Consulate then sends the visa packet over to a DHL (courier service) office back on Lopez Mateos Avenue, near Servicios Medicos and the old Consulate. They told us to call DHL every half hour between 4pm & 6pm to find out if the packet was there, and then we could pick it up. They also said if it didn't come on Friday, it would come Saturday. DHL told us that they don't receive packets from the Embassy on Saturdays. So, if it didn't come Friday it would come Monday, and we would have to stay in Mexico for the weekend. Francisca's packet came at 6pm Friday. So, we decided to cross back into El Paso Friday night. It only took half an hour to get to the border. (We heard lines could take as long as 3 hours.) However, once we got the border, the process of turning in the visa packet and getting her passport stamped took another THREE hours. At the border, we were sent inside the immigration building (not sure what it's actually called), and Francisca was fingerprinted again twice (both ink & digital), and they took her picture again. They had three people working in the office, and there were at least 100 people waiting with their visa packets. This was probably the worst wait of the whole trip, as we weren't expecting it and it seemed redundant of everything Francisca had already done at the Consulate. We also had the distinct feeling that if these were a bunch of American citizen waiting to cross the border, things would have moved a lot more quickly. Maybe that isn't true, either, but I cannot imagine most Americans putting up with such a ridiculous wait.

Once we were finally through with the border crossing, we began the long drive home. A few hours into the U.S. there's another checkpoint, and we had to show Francisca's visa again, but it was no big deal. She slept through it, and the guy just peeked in the window. 26 hours after we crossed the border we were home in MN.

Feel free to pass this info on to other people wondering about visiting the Consulate in Juarez. And if other people have questions, we'd be happy to talk/e-mail with them.

Thanks so much for all your help! We'll be in touch.

Steven C. Thal, P.A.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2009

MYTH: The government gives social security benefits to "illegal" aliens who have never contributed to the system.

Answer; This common myth is again making the rounds in viral emails and online petitions. Before deleting the frustrating forward, consider responding with these quick mythbusting facts!
FACT: Contrary to what people think, undocumented workers are not (and have never been) eligible to claim social security benefits. Moreover, most undocumented workers will use a false social security number to prove work authorization, therefore paying money into a benefit system that they will never be eligible to use.

FACT: According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), undocumented immigrants “account for a major portion” of the billions of dollars paid into the Social Security system under names or social security numbers that don’t match SSA records. As of October 2005, the reported earnings on which these payments are based—which are tracked through the SSA’s Earnings Suspense File (ESF)—totaled $520 billion.

More mythbusting facts on this issue can be found in The Economic Impact of Immigration, a policy brief prepared by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/index.php?content=fc071115

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

February 11, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist The Open-Door Bailout

In the New York Times there is an editorial by by Thomas Friedman at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/opinion/11friedman.html?th&emc=th

Wherein he describes how;

"By Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans...."”

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2009

FAQ: why don't immigrants pay taxes?

Answer; this myth that Immigrants Hurt the Economy Because They Don't Pay Taxes dealt with by the American Immigration Lawyers Association in their press release dated Feb. 5, 2009;

FACT: Contrary to popular belief, immigrants pay a substantial amount of taxes, from federal income and Social Security taxes to state income, sales, and property taxes.

FACT: The IRS estimates that undocumented immigrants alone paid $50 billion in taxes from 1996 to 2003; http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/us/02greeley.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss

FACT: A 2007 White House Council of Economic Advisers study reports that immigrants and their families contribute an average of $80,000 more than they use in benefits; http://www.scribd.com/doc/341987/02023cea-immigration-062007

More mythbusting facts on these issues can be found in the following Immigration Policy Center (IPC) reports: It's Tax Time! at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/images/File/factcheck/Taxpayers04-08.pdf

Immigrants and Taxes: Contributions to State and Federal Coffers and Undocumented Immigrants as Taxpayers; http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/images/File/factcheck/Taxpayers04-08.pdf

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM AILA, Tuesday, February 3, 2009
CONTACT: George Tzamaras, 202-507-7649; gtzamaras@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC -- The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) commends Congress for passing the "Legal Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act" (ICHIA) as part of the SCHIP reauthorization. ICHIA authorizes states to waive the current five-year waiting period that limits millions of legal permanent resident children and pregnant women from receiving health insurance benefits.

Eliminating the five year waiting period - a lifetime for children needing medical assistance - has been a priority for pro-immigrant activists for 13 years. When President Obama (who pushed hard to ensure that the final SCHIP measure included ICHIA) signs the legislation, it will be a significant victory for all children. And it will mark a significant change in the direction of the immigration debate. Anti-immigrant organizations have fought tooth and nail to prevent this humane and eminently sensible measure from becoming law.

Those groups should see the writing on the wall. ICHIA is the first pro-immigrant measure to go to this President's desk, but it will not be the last. This Congress and this Administration have committed to reforming our immigration system, restoring the rule of law, and treating all people in this country with respect. AILA welcomes that overdue commitment and looks forward to working with Congress to solve the many challenges facing our immigration system.


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.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2009

Maintaining America’s Global Competitiveness in a Time of World Economic Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM AILA, Tuesday, February 3, 2009
CONTACT:George Tzamaras, 202-507-7649; gtzamaras@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC -- America's economy is in a tailspin. As our nation struggles to reverse the downward spiral and get back on course, America's H-1B program has come under fire. And when H-1B's are discussed, emotions run high. Recent articles have targeted the program as 'anti-American" and "unpatriotic," but what exactly is America's H-1B program designed to do? Let's set the record straight!

The H-1B program is a long-standing part of our nation's business immigration system. It was developed to give U.S. employers access to highly skilled, professional foreign talent (often students who have been educated here in U.S. universities) for up to six years and as a means for U.S. companies to stay ahead in their respective global markets. Data proves that H-1B petitions track the economy. When hiring is down, the number of H-1B petitions goes down. The program is self-adjusting. However, when the economy improves, there is no corresponding escalator. Thus, during the boom years, businesses were hamstrung by a quota that did not take into account the needs of the international marketplace. The program remained capped at 65,000 visas per year for bachelor's degree positions, with another 20,000 for advanced degree holders who graduated from U.S. universities.

Now that the economy is not booming, judicious admission of international professionals is more important than ever. Where the program was used to fill in labor shortages that no longer exist, companies have stopped using H-1B workers in those occupations. But even companies that have been laying off workers need isolated, specific skills to better compete in the international marketplace and effect their own recovery. U.S. businesses MUST have access to specialty skills without having to locate operations outside the U.S. to obtain them. Otherwise, the entire nation's economic recovery will be severely hobbled.

There remain vital areas that require that our system make adequate provision for future needs. Studies have shown that over the next ten years, the U.S. may need two million more K-12 teachers in this country. We will also need 250,000 new math and science teachers by the end of 2010. Further, nearly 80 million baby boomers are expected to leave the workforce sometime soon. In 2004, the U.S. produced 137,000 new engineers, compared to China's 352,000. It is well-documented that America is well behind the curve in producing sufficient skilled professionals to make our country "tomorrow's center" for innovation. Recent economic events have not changed these facts; they have made it all the more important that we deal with them.

The H-1B visa category is used by universities, school districts, hospitals, research organizations, and businesses competing in our global marketplace to fill needed specialty occupations. "Let's say a school district in rural Iowa or in poor urban area of Chicago needs a math or science teacher to help students be prepared to compete and innovate in our global economy," said Charles H. Kuck, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). "Does it really make sense for our children to go without, or should we encourage the entry of qualified educators from abroad? What about our research institutions developing new medical cures or our hospitals trying to care for an increasingly large aging population? We have to recognize that while not a panacea, the H-1B visas program, when used according to law, provides a critical resource to help drive our future economic success."

Hiring the H-1B professional seems like a good solution so long as the reason for lack of interest by U.S. workers is not low pay and as long as protections are in place to ensure that qualified U.S. workers are not replaced by foreign labor. In fact, H-1B regulations require that workers on these visas are paid the HIGHER of the prevailing wage or the actual wages of comparable U.S. workers within the company. This wage protection insures that H-1B professionals are not used as "cheap labor. In addition, H-1B regulations do not allow a company to use the H-1B category to break a strike or lockout - or to replace U.S. workers laid off the same job," Kuck stated. "In other words," Kuck noted, "protections against those abuses already are in the law."

In addition to the wage protections in the law, the fact is that H-1Bs cannot be "cheap labor." H-1Bs are hired at a high transaction cost. The government charges most employers $2,320 per application, on top of the additional legal and human resource expenses that come with an H-1B hire. Also, if the H-1B worker is fired, the employer must buy his plane ticket home-an often expensive proposition.

To put the impact of H-1B professionals in perspective, with a U.S. workforce of about 145 million, the new H-1B allotment each year accounts for less than one-tenth of one percent of the U.S. workforce.

Enforcement of the H-1B protections and requirements is critical to create a level playing field for employers and employees alike, which is why part of the fees paid by H-1B sponsoring employers are used to fund the enforcement of the H-1B regulations, as well as training programs for U.S. workers. Penalties for failing to comply with the labor protections of the H-1B category as to wages, posting requirements, etc. include a provision that a company may be barred from serving as an H-1B petitioner in the future. The typical legally compliant company uses the H-1B category because it needs skilled professionals to enhance competitiveness. This need continues in specific specialty niches in our economy, even when economic times are tough.

What is the predictable result of a reduction or loss of the H-1B category? Companies will be forced to locate overseas, where a high skilled worker pool is available, or outsource needed labor. "We need an H-1B reality check," said Kuck. "The simple solution is not cutting off an aid to our economic independence, but instead continuing to use legal immigration tools that help us improve our children's and our country's future."

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2009

USCIS Genealogy Program

at; http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=d21f3711ca5ca110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD&vgnextchannel=d21f3711ca5ca110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD

The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program providing family historians and other researchers with timely access to historical immigration and naturalization records. Click the links at right and below to learn about our services and records.

The USCIS Genealogy Program offers two services:
Index Search: Using biographical information provided by the researcher, USCIS searches its historical immigration and naturalization record indices for citations related to a specific immigrant. Search results (record citations) are returned to the researcher, along with instructions on how to request the file(s) from USCIS or the National Archives. Fee: $20.00.
Record Copy Request: Researchers with valid record citations (USCIS file numbers), gained through a USCIS Genealogy Program index search or through independent research, may request copies of historical immigration and naturalization records. Fee: $20.00/$35.00 (depending on the record type).

Records available through the USCIS Genealogy Program:
Naturalization Certificate Files (C-files) from September 27, 1906 to April 1, 1956
Alien Registration Forms from August 1, 1940 to March 31, 1944
Visa files from July 1, 1924 to March 31, 1944
Registry Files from March 2, 1929 to March 31, 1944
Alien Files (A-files) numbered below 8 million (A8000000) and documents therein dated prior to May 1, 1951

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