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May 26, 2009

New Americans in the Tar Heel State: The Growing Economic and Political Clout of Immigrants and Latinos in North Carolina

A new Fact Sheet from the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) shows that over the past two decades, North Carolina has experienced dramatic growth in its immigrant and Latino populations. Immigrants now account for 7% of North Carolina’s population, and more than a quarter of them are U.S. citizens eligible to vote. Latinos comprise 7.1% of the state’s population and accounted for 3% of voters in the 2008 elections. The number of Latino voters in 2008 who were immigrants or the children of immigrants was nearly double the size of the very slim margin by which President Obama won the state. Immigrants and their child, especially those who naturalize, excel in school over time. Moreover, the revenue generated by Latino and Asian taxpayers, consumers, and entrepreneurs sustains thousands of jobs and contributes billions of dollars to the state’s coffers. At a time of deepening recession, North Carolina can ill-afford to alienate or marginalize such a fast-growing component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.

The complete Fact Sheet is available on the IPC website at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/images/File/factcheck/North%20Carolina%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

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

May 22, 2009

Momentum for Immigration Reform Continues to Build

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
CONTACT:
George Tzamaras, 202-507-7649, gtzamaras@aila.org

* Sens. Menendez, Gillibrand, Kennedy and Schumer introduce "The Reuniting Families Act" in the Senate
* Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee holds its second Hearing "Securing the Borders and America's Points of Entry, What Remains to Be Done"
* The Police Foundation releases a report titled "The Role of Local Police: Striking a
* Balance Between Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties"
* The National Foundation for American Policy releases two studies today: "Common Sense and Common Interests" and "A Commission to Regulate Immigration? A Bad Idea Whose Time Should Not Come"
* White House announces meeting on immigration reform with Congressional leaders for June 8

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomes several developments today that signal that immigration reform is gaining momentum!

AILA commends US Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) for introducing legislation today that seeks to restore America's commitment to family unity. The Reuniting Families Act would help legal immigrants reunite with their families and end decade-long waiting times for legal immigrant visas. "This is momentous day for all Americans who understand the dire need for immigration," said Charles H. Kuck, president of AILA. "This important legislation promotes timely reunification of families by recapturing unused visas and eliminating the tragically long family immigration backlogs."

The legislation would reinforce our commitment to families and reduce current wait times in the family immigration system by:

* Helping an estimated 322,000 spouses and children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents who are waiting in line to reunite with their families by reclassifying them as immediate relatives
* Addressing the decades-long backlogs for certain countries by raising the per-country immigration limits from 7 percent to 10 percent of total admissions
* Protecting widows, widowers and orphans by allowing them to continue to wait in line for a visa after the death of the sponsoring relative.
* Recapturing an estimated 400,000 family-sponsored and employment-based visas that went unused between 1992 and 2007.
* Respecting the contribution of Filipino World War II veterans by reducing their children's waiting times for an immigrant visa.
* Promoting family unity by allowing more people who are already eligible for an immigrant visa to efficiently use our legal family immigration system.
* Providing equal treatment for stepchildren and biological children by allowing stepchildren under the age of 21 to immigrate upon their parents' marriage (current age limit is 18).

In addition to this important legislation, the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee today launched an aggressive effort to press for passage of comprehensive immigration legislation, with Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer, D-NY, saying conditions are ripe for Congressional action. Schumer also announced an agenda of hearings for the coming months and said he is "cautiously optimistic that we can pass strong, fair, practical and effective immigration reform this year."

Further, a report released today by the nonpartisan Police Foundation criticized efforts to have local law enforcement agencies enforce federal immigration laws. The group said the report "finds that immigration enforcement by local police undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation, and exacerbates fear in communities already distrustful of police."

Also, the National Foundation of American Policy released two studies earlier today. One study titled, "Common Sense, Common Interests," recommends combining fully portable work permits - not tied to a specific employer - with bilateral administrative agreements. The second study, "A Commission to Regulate Immigration? A Bad Idea Whose Time Should Not Come," concludes that creating a commission to establish the annual level of temporary visas and green cards for high and low-skilled workers would result in unaccountable officials with the enormous power to change the law based on little more than their personal preference.

And finally, the White House today announced that it will hold a high-level meeting with Congressional leaders on June 8th to discuss plans for immigration reform.

These important developments all keep the momentum building towards an immigration overhaul that is desperately needed by our country. AILA pledges itself to working closely with Congress and the Administration to make sure that immigration reform moves forward to a successful conclusion in the months ahead!

###

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 07:11 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2009

Study Finds 287(g) Immigration Enforcement Program Detrimental to Core Mission of Local Police

The Police Foundation released a study titled The Role of Local Police: Striking a Balance Between Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties, which reports that civil immigration enforcement by local police undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources and exacerbates fear in communities.

http://policefoundation.org/indexStriking.html

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:10 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2009

The Unemployment and Immigration Disconnect: Untying the Knot

"Today, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) released two installments of a three-part report, Untying the Knot, which seeks to debunk the frequently misrepresented relationship between immigration and unemployment. The reports, prepared by Rob Paral and Associates, examined data from the Census Bureau and found that there is no apparent relationship between the number of recent immigrants in a particular locale and the unemployment rate among native-born whites, blacks, Latinos, or Asians. Even now, at a time of economic recession and high unemployment, there is no correlation between the number of recent immigrant workers in a given state, county, or city and the unemployment rate among native-born workers".

To read the first report in the Untying the Knot series, visit the IPC website at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/images/File/specialreport/Part%201%20-%20Unemployment%20Disconnect%2005-19-09.pdf

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

May 16, 2009

Finding Friends of Immigration Reform in High Places

Here is a well written article which summarizes the status of immigration reform.

AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

By Angela Kelley, Vanessa Cárdenas | May 12, 2009

"Immigration reform has been called the “third rail” of politics for being such a charged issue, but lately lots of people have been touching that third rail without getting zapped. In fact, several actions from administration officials and others in the last two weeks show that there is willingness to move this issue forward.
President is pushed and doesn’t buckle: During his speech on the first 100 days of his administration on April 29, President Barack Obama spoke of his willingness to engage on immigration. He again reiterated his commitment to move the process forward with “full steam ahead on all fronts,” while signaling that in order to advance any policy, his administration needs to build confidence among the American people that they can execute changes to the immigration system (more on that confidence among the public below).

The Department of Homeland Security’s leadership and the budget reveal smart enforcement measures: A week and a half ago, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced new guidelines for DHS worksite that would focus enforcement measures on employers. And last Wednesday, the DHS published a budget request that struck a balance of smart security and overdue attention to the long-starved Department for Citizenship and Immigration Services. These changes are welcome news and a significant shift in focus since the Bush administration concentrated on arresting workers—more than 6,000 in 2008—while going after only 135 employers.

Schumer signals a serious start: On April 30, Congress also took a significant step toward launching the debate when Immigration Subcommittee Chair Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) convened a hearing featuring an odd line-up, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, religious leader Dr. Joel Hunter, and Montgomery County, MD Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger, all arguing for reform. Of note was Mr. Greenspan’s testimony, where he indicated that “There is little doubt that unauthorized, that is, illegal, immigration has made a significant contribution to the growth of our economy… Our immigration laws must be reformed and brought up to date.”

Immigrants march for reform: The call for immigration reform continued when immigrants took the streets to voice their support of reform during the May 1 marches. Events in over 20 cities nationwide sought to remind President Obama of his pledge to take up immigration reform, and they sent a clear reminder that the immigrant community and their allies are engaged and ready to lend grassroots support to move the issue forward.

Supreme Court rebukes Bush enforcement practices: On May 4, the Supreme Court gave immigrants an important victory, unanimously ruling that when the federal government charges undocumented immigrants under statute 18 U. S. C. §1028A it must still meet the requirements of the statute and demonstrate the immigrant’s intent to use another person’s identification. As our colleague, CAP Senior Fellow Henry Fernandez writes, “Whatever one thinks of immigration policy in this country, it is not OK to remove the element of intent from a criminal statute that clearly requires it. And the broader attack on the constitutional rights of immigrants to move a broken Bush policy scheme puts everyone’s rights at risk.”

DHS Secretary Napolitano comes out in strong support of the DREAM Act: Last Wednesday, while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) asked DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano whether she supported the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide undocumented students the opportunity to become legal U.S. residents if they go to college or serve in the military. She replied in the affirmative: “I supported the DREAM Act when I was governor. I support it now… It seems to me that that DREAM Act is a good piece of legislation and a good idea.”

Watch Liana Montecinos, a student who would benefit from the DREAM ACT, tell her story. Liana came to the United States when she was 11 years old and is a student at George Mason University currently fighting deportation proceedings.

Americans’ support for reform is high: Recent polls suggest that the American people are squarely behind immigration reform. An April 2009 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that “61 percent supported a program to allow illegal immigrants now living in the United States to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements, compared to 35 percent who opposed such a program. That’s up from a narrow 49-46 split in favor back in December of 2007.”

In fact, in the poll a majority of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, moderates, and conservatives supported an Amnesty Program. “Seven in 10 liberals and 68 percent of Democrats support an amnesty program. But so do majorities of Republicans and independents (59 percent in both cases), moderates (63 percent) and conservatives (56 percent) alike.”

…and they believe it’s a first-term priority for the president: A New York Times/CBS poll from last month also had similar findings, with 59 percent of those polled believing that “significant immigration reform” during Obama’s first term was likely.
The need for reform is as evident as ever: On Saturday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) ended his Families United Tour, which sought to highlight the impact of the broken immigration system on families, including legal residents and U.S. citizens. The tour visited over 15 cities nationwide and heard testimony from immigrant families facing deportations.

Our country needs immigration reform. The public demands it, our economy requires it, and our leaders recognize it. What’s more, we can tackle it this year. As White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently noted, “The arrow is pointing in a different direction in relation to immigration politics in this country.”".

Angela Kelley is Vice President for Immigration Policy and Vanessa Cárdenas is Ethnic Media Director at American Progress.

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

May 15, 2009

IMMIGRANTS INTEGRAL TO SOCIAL SECURITY'S FUTURE

May 14, 2009

Washington D.C. - Reports released by the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees this week have re-focused public attention on the deteriorating financial condition of the nation's main health and retirement programs. These reports underscore not only the severity of the current recession, but also the demographic crisis confronting the nation as the native-born population ages. The coming wave of retiring Baby Boomers reminds us of the increasingly important role that immigrants play in the U.S. economy as taxpayers, workers, consumers, and homebuyers.

In an IPC report, demographer Dowell Myers of the University of Southern California has succinctly analyzed this looming demographic crisis and the role that immigration can play in overcoming it:

* Over the next 20 years, the number of senior citizens relative to the number of working-age Americans will increase by 67 percent.

* This means that more and more retirees "will transition from being net taxpayers to net recipients of health and pension benefits, and they will be supported by a smaller workforce that is struggling to meet its own needs."

* These "mass retirements" will not only strain the Social Security and Medicare programs, but will also drive labor-force growth "perilously low - perhaps below zero in many states - which will depress economic growth as a whole."

* Moreover, "seniors are also net home sellers, and accordingly, there will be 67 percent more people in the selling ages relative to the younger adults who are likely to be buyers. Thus the mass sell-off launched by aging poses a great hazard for all home sellers and their home values in the two decades ahead."

The aging of the native-born population will leave the U.S. economy short on workers and taxpayers just when more workers and taxpayers are needed to support the increasing number of retiring Baby Boomers. Immigrants can help fill this gap. And, as the IPC points out in a recent compilation of economic data, sensible immigration reform would maximize the economic contributions of immigrants, which will shore up not only Social Security and Medicare, but the U.S. tax base and the U.S. workforce as well.

For More Facts and Data See:

* Thinking Ahead About Our Immigrant Future (IPC Special Report) January 2008 at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/images/File/infocus/Thinking%20Ahead%201-08.pdf
* The Economics of Immigration Reform (IPC Fact Check) April 2008
at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/images/File/factcheck/EconomicsofCIRFullDoc.pdf

For press inquiries contact Wendy Sefsaf at 202-507-7524 or wsefsaf@ailf.org or
Andrea Nill at 202-507-7520 or anill@ailf.org.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2009

Jon Stewart Tackles Immigration Process with "The Naturalized"

by Shani Saxon-Parrish,

"Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart is working on a two-hour special about the U.S. naturalization process for the History Channel called The Naturalized. It is one of 13 new specials and 16 series green lighted or in development for the network's 2009 to 2010 season, reports The NY Post.

The host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is set to executive-produce the special through his company, Busboy Productions. The Naturalized will be a funny yet poignant look at eight people muddling through the bureaucracy of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It will also include interviews with undocumented and deported illegal immigrants, and possibly Stewart himself. Sounds like a longer, in-depth version of a Daily Show segment to us. What took so long for this to happen?...".

http://www.latina.com/entertainment/tv/jon-stewart-tackles-immigration-process-naturalized

Posted by VisaLawyer at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2009

Mix message on going to school in the US

There was an Editorial in USA TODAY titled Congratulations, graduate. Now leave the USA on May 12, 2009

"Around this time each year, thousands of foreign students graduate with science and engineering degrees from U.S. universities. Many are eager to stay in America and contribute to the U.S. economy.

So does the United States welcome them with open arms? No, the government tells thousands of them to hit the road - and take their sought-after skills and brainpower to countries and companies that compete with the USA...".

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/05/our-view-on-legal-immigration-congratulations-graduate-now-leave-the-usa.html?loc=interstitialskip

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:33 AM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2009

Has the political landscape shifted enough to change the dynamics of immigration reform?

Opinion, The immigration debate, again

By Tamar Jacoby, May 7, 2009

"Immigration reform -- you may think you've seen this movie before, too many times already. You know the arguments. You dread the polarization. And you doubt that Congress can do any better at making the compromises needed to fix the system.

But with the Obama White House rekindling the conversation about immigration, skeptics ought to think again. None of the problems have gone away, after all. Neither the economic downturn nor enhanced enforcement has driven 12 million illegal immigrants to leave the country. Enforcement is still far from effective, either on the border or in the workplace. And even in a recession, we still seem to need foreign workers, especially at the bottom of the economy.

But other things have changed since 2006 and 2007, when the nation last wrangled so bitterly over immigration. And although the new landscape hardly guarantees success -- immigration is never an easy issue, and some of what has changed will make it harder to pass reform -- it's going to be a different debate this year.

The most prominent feature of the new landscape is the recession, which at first blush makes reform more difficult. With unemployment still rising, many Americans doubt that we need foreign workers. Voters are thinking about themselves first. They have no patience for other people's problems. And, as always when times are hard, there's a danger that populist resentments will curdle into xenophobia, creating pressure to seal the border rather than craft a way for newcomers to come here to work legally.

But so far, the recession isn't having that effect. Journalists and employers report that not even unemployed Americans seem to want to do farm work or day-labor jobs, at least not yet. Many fewer foreigners are coming to the U.S. in search of work: They know there are fewer jobs available. And the reduced flow seems to be easing American anxieties somewhat...".

www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/la-oe-jacoby
chicagotribune.com

Posted by VisaLawyer at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2009

The race is on!

From AILA Advocacy;

"Inside Politics
Bang! The starting gun on the immigration reform marathon sounded in Congress last week. The Senate Immigration Subcommittee got out of the gates quickly with a terrific hearing that included two all-star witness panels. It was Senator Schumer’s first event with the Subcommittee gavel and his team did not disappoint.

The hearing kicked off with Alan Greenspan making the economic case for immigration reform. Evangelical Pastor Joel Hunter then delivered as compelling a moral argument for reform as you will ever hear. Long-time executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Wade Henderson, eloquently articulated the civil and human rights implications of our broken system. On behalf of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Montgomery County (MD) Police Chief, J. Thomas Manger, convincingly and unequivocally argued the law enforcement and security imperatives for comprehensive reform. Doris Meissner, former Commissioner of INS, elaborated on the economic and security implications of our broken system and offered up a vision for solving these problems going forward. President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, Jeff Moseley, staked out the employer position on reform, which was complemented by Eliseo Medina’s compelling testimony on behalf of the Service Employees International Union about the importance of reform for all workers.

Also on the panel was Kris Kobach, Of Counsel to FAIR's legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, who presented a case for more border enforcement and no amnesties. In response, Senator Schumer spent some time differentiating the previously proposed earned legalization from an amnesty.

In short, they covered literally all of the bases in making the case for why Congress can and must pursue immigration reform now. This hearing was plainly not about going through the motions. It was a strong statement of commitment and it set the stage for serious action. Make sure your laces are tied - the race is on!".

Marshall Fitz
Director, AILA Advocacy

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2009

US gains from illegal immigrants, H-1B workers: Greenspan

http://www.centralchronicle.com/printnews.asp

Saturday, May 02, 2009, Washington, May 2:

"Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that illegal immigration makes a "significant" contribution to US economic growth by providing a flexible workforce.

Greenspan, appearing before a Senate subcommittee, said illegal immigrants provide a "safety valve" as demand for workers rises and falls.

"There is little doubt that unauthorized, that is, illegal, immigration has made a significant contribution to the growth of our economy," Greenspan said. An overhaul of US immigration laws is "badly needed" to create legal avenues for skilled and unskilled workers to enter the country legally, he said.

"Our immigration laws must be reformed and brought up to date," Greenspan told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.Congress is beginning hearings on an overhaul of US immigration policies, a legislative priority of President Barack Obama. The Senate blocked legislation in 2007 that would have given an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants a way to earn legal status and would have created a new guest-worker program, a measure supported by then-President George W Bush. Obama again endorsed an overhaul of US immigration laws during a prime-time news conference last night and said he will soon convene working groups with lawmakers "to start looking at a framework of how this legislation might be shaped."

"No one is happy with our current system," New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, the subcommittee's chairman, said as the hearing began. "There is a recognition in America that the status quo is not working."

"Economists generally view the overall economic benefits of this workforce as significantly outweighing the costs," he said.
Greenspan also endorsed an expansion of the H-1B visa program for skilled workers that is backed by technology companies such as Microsoft Corp and Intel Corp. The 2007 legislation would have increased the size of the program to 115,000 annual visas, up from 65,000. Greenspan said US schools don't produce enough skilled workers and the gap must be filled with immigrants who have advanced degrees.

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