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Entering America Legally–Not As Easy As You Think!

In aninterview on David Letterman, actor Robert Downey, Jr., talked about a problem he had last year in Japan, when upon entering Japan he was detained and questioned about his past criminal record. Downey said:I probably should have seen there was a sign that said ‘No Felons Allowed’ in English and Japanese and I haven’t had that expunged yet,” he said. “You can actually get things expunged but I’ve been pretty busy. So I was detained, I was interrogated. It was a blast.
Haven’t you settled up? Haven’t you paid your debts? Letterman asked.Clearly I haven’t paid my debts to Japan, said Downey.
While I certainly feel somewhat bad for Mr. Downey, this short exchange gave the impression that nothing similar would ever happen in America! Hah! U.S. Immigration Law contains restrictions that bar entry to people forever, for virtually any youthful indiscretion they have ever had, e.g. simple possession of a marijuana 20 years ago, without regard to whether or not you were actually convicted of …

The New Immigration Reform Bill–And an American Hero

It cannot be said about many congressman or senators, but Congressman Luis Gutierrez is a courageous hero. I say this not because the legislation he proposed today in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 is perfect. It is not. there are issues that I have with the bill. Rather, he is a hero because he is willing to stand up for what is right. And, it is right to try to fix our broken immigration system now.That’s right. Now. Not next year. Not in a “second term.” But now. The tatters and ruins of our immigration system cannot be allowed to remain. Everyday we encounter the human toll of what our legal immigration system has wrought, and we see the effects of years of a lack of enforcement of this broken system, AND the effects of years of over-enforcement of that same system. The results are tragically similar, children separated from their parents, husbands separated from their wives, businesses unable to secure their future because o…

Fake IDs are a Booming Business in a Struggling NC Economy

Wachovia might have packed its bags and Bank of America may be on its way out, too, but, never fear; a new industry seems to be cropping up in the Carolinas in the wake of economic disparity. It is the fake ID business, and it’s not just for under-age kids who want to buy beer anymore.Consider some of these statistics: In recent years, North Carolina was deemed to be one of the top five states with the fastest growing Hispanic population. A study completed in 2006 commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of Charlotte estimated the number of undocumented immigrants in North Carolina to be over 50,000. North Carolina also became one of the first states to have a handful of counties sign up to be involved with ICE’s 287g program. Put it all together and what do you have? A rapidly increasing population of undocumented immigrants who are being increasingly targeted by local police, even for minor infractions, such as speeding, no operator’s license, or failing to signal, and who have no means o…

Lock Your Doors! Someone Let Pat Buchanan Out!!

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside in the immigration field, someone decided to release Pat Buchanan from the custody of the anti-immigration movement, and actually published one of his anti-immigration screeds in what many consider a legitimate newspaper.
In the San Jose Mercury News, Buchanan’s editorial, “Patrick J. Buchanan: Halting immigration would be an instant stimulus package,” makes the Grand Canyonesque leap from people losing jobs to somehow stopping ALL legal immigration to the United States, and thus actually creating jobs “for Americans.” His only claim for support of this bizarre theory is an analysis by “Middle American News,” whatever that is, of census data, no citation. I can hear John Belushi coughing in the background. Perhaps Pat Buchanan is so blinded by the anti-immigration crowd he has surrounded himself with for the last 20 years, that he failed to see evidence like this, cited by Vivek Wadhwa in his most recent article in YaleGlobal: In 2006, immi…

The Best (and Worst) of 2009

Let’s face it – 2009 has not been a big year for immigration…but that may not be such a bad thing. Immigration advocates have bemoaned the Obama Administration’s lack of action on the issue, but, in the spirit of the holidays, I believe we have a lot to be thankful for as we look back on this past year…
Obama’s Inauguration – THE GOOD: Obama has succeeded in driving record numbers of naturalized citizens to the polls with his calls for change and a renewed belief in the American Dream. That’s a positive start. THE BAD: He has not delivered on his promise to address immigration reform just yet.Committee Formation – THE GOOD: A committee has been formed to begin discussing a reform package. THE BAD: It has been pushed to the back burner for the moment, given the state of the economy and healthcare in the U.S.Janet Napolitano – THE GOOD: Janet was an exceptional choice who has more or less met the high expectations the Administration, and the general public, set for her. THE BAD: Pretty m…

All I Want For Christmas Is a Point-System

I think I changed my mind about a point-system for immigration purposes. There, I said it. In my defense, though, I did not come to this decision lightly. No, this comes as a result of years of watching hard-working people from all over the world get the short end of the stick based on some technicality in our immigration laws.In immigration and in life, it’s often the people in the middle, the ones who go about their work, who mind their own business, who take care of themselves and their families, who go ignored, because immigration, like life, is not fair. As a society, we tend to cater to the “least of these” and to the “most of these,” leaving everyone in the middle to fend for themselves. Unless you’re a superstar or a billionaire with boatloads to invest, or you’re miserably poor and sick without a prayer in the world, this country’s immigration system turns its back on you, and as a result: WE’RE DEPORTING THE WRONG PEOPLE!Don’t get me wrong – we’re not deporting ALL the wrong…

BRACE YOURSELF GWINNETT!

Citizens of Gwinnett County (with skin that is not white)…brace yourself for a barrage of racial profiling at its best. Prepare to be pulled over for trumped up traffic violations so under-trained police officers can inquire into your immigration status in an attempt to bring another prized “illegal” back to the station so that the County can receive federal money for housing them. Prepare to be questioned regarding your immigration status if you call the police for help after having been the victim of a crime or traffic accident.Gwinnett County recently announced that it will be joining Cobb, Hall, and Whitfield Counties as a county that practices 287(g), a federal program that trains and authorizes deputies to enforce federal immigration law.With 287(g) expanding, it is now more important than ever to know your rights and be prepared. If you are a person affected by the expansion of the program, remember, do not sign anything! Ask to speak to an attorney immediately, and do not allo…

BALLOON BOY’S MOM’S IMMIGRATION BUBBLE ABOUT TO BURST?

My official source for news, TMZ, is reporting that Balloon Boy’s mom, Mayumi, is not a U.S. citizen, and could possibly face deportation depending on the crime she is eventually convicted of. Mayumi’s attorney purportedly explained that she is a “Japanese citizen” and could force deportation if convicted of a felony or “certain misdemeanor.”What is not clear from the blurb is whether Mayumi has any status at all, though it appears that she may be a lawful permanent resident (LPR). If she is an LPR, let this situation be a lesson to all LPRs – you should apply for citizenship before concocting an insane scheme to draw attention to yourself. In all seriousness, Mayumi you are not helping the immigration debate.

Who is an “American?”

This last weekend, for the first time since 1982, an AMERICAN won the NYC Marathon. As someone who has run several marathons and who would have been lapped by this winner, I greatly admire these fleet footed men and women.
Why is this an immigration issue? Well, it turns out a commentator on CNBC by the name of Darren Rovell thinks there are different kinds of “Americans.” In this case, Meg Keflezighi, an American ,who immigrated to the United States when he was 12 as a refugee, proudly wore the USA on his sweat stained jersey as he cruised to victory in the NYC Marathon. Much was made in the press of the fact that an American had finally won this particular marathon again after more than 25 years! But, Mr. Rovell was apparently looking for a controversial way to express his ignorance. Mr. Rovell noted: “He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country…Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that …

From Refugee to Riches in 30 Years

Once upon a time, there was a young boy named Sergey who lived in a faraway land known as the Soviet Union. He lived in Central Moscow in a tiny apartment with his mother, his father and his grandmother.

Sergey’s father Michael was very smart, especially in math and physics, and always dreamed of being an astronomer. However, because Sergey and his family were Jewish, they were often denied many opportunities; and so his father was not allowed to study physics or attend graduate school to achieve his dreams.

One day, Michael had to attend a conference in Warsaw, Poland, for his job. In Poland, he met dozens of other mathematicians like him, from places like France, England and the United States. Michael came back to his family and Moscow and said to them, “We must leave the Soviet Union and look for a better life somewhere else.” His wife agreed, and Michael applied for exit visas in order to leave the country.

Once the government found out that Michael had applied for visas for himself …

Get In The Line? What Line? The Tragic Tale of Employment Based Immigrant Visa Delays

I had a very upset client contact me this last week. He was angry . . . at the Visa Bulletin. He could not understand how, after the start of the new fiscal year, there was essentially no movement in the visa numbers. I tried to calm him by telling him that he just needed to be patient. Then I realized how patronizing that sounded. How much longer did he need to wait? He has an approved immigrant visa petition (EB-3) with an early 2005 priority date in the worldwide category. So, I decided to try to figure out when he might actually get his green card. I ask that you bear with me through this process. This is a LONG post, but one I think you will appreciate reading.

I have to warn you now, this math is a shot in the dark. I do NOT have all of the numbers of pending and approved cases in each category of employment based immigration. However, some estimate, based upon some pretty good numbers, is better than mere guesswork. Let me walk you through this analysis.

However, I first ask you …

Nasty Debate Forms over Citizenship Question on the 2010 Census Monday

Trick-or-treat!

Immigration is stirring up trouble again in Congress. Just when we thought we were safe to put the issue on the back-burner for another few months, Republican Senators David Vitter (LA) and Bob Bennett (UT) have found a way to sneak it back into some upcoming legislation. And this time, the new alliances are being formed and the new lines are being drawn are almost spooky.

Sens. Vitter and Bennett are trying to attach an amendment to an upcoming Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill that would freeze Census Bureau funds if the organization does not add a question about the citizenship status of respondents to the more than 425 million forms before the once-a-decade count begins this coming April.

The Senators claim that the bill is necessary in order to exclude illegal immigrants from the census count so their numbers won’t affect congressional appointment or legislative redistricting, both of which are based on population. Vitter says that the inclusion of th…

BALCA–Your PERM Case is Denied!

Over the course of the last year, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (”BALCA”)has been posting a series of appeal decisions. These BALCA decisions routinely deny the labor certification appeal, even for minor, de minimis errors of the employer and/or counsel. An example of today’s postings include the following:BALCA Affirms Denial Based on Lack Of FEIN on Date of Filing for Domestic Household Employerhttp://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=30340 BALCA affirms denial based on the fact that the employer, a domestic household, lacked a valid FEIN on the date of filing the labor certification. Matter of Edward J. Tierny, 2009-PER-00314 (7/13/09). AILA Doc. No. 09102061.BALCA Affirms Denial Because the Job Order Was Conducted Outside the 180 Day
Requirement
http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=30342BALCA affirms the PERM denial based on the fact that the application was filed 187 days after the job order was placed, and consequently, the job order was conducted …

Cobb County 287 (g) Program- Frequently Asked Questions

1. I have paid my relative’s Cobb County bond- why can’t he get out?
Cobb County has implemented a 287 (g) program. Under this program, state and local law enforcement are authorized to identify, process, and when appropriate, detain people who may have violated the immigration laws. Once you pay the Cobb County bond, your relative will be placed under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer. The detainer provides ICE with a period of time to interview and assess the alien. This means that even if you pay the bond, he can’t leave the jail for 48 hours. 2. If I pay the county bond, what will happen? Your relative should be interviewed by an ICE official in Cobb County within 24 hours of the payment of the county bond. Your relative will be moved to a section of the jail designated for immigrants and will be transferred out of the jail- generally within 48 hours of bond payment. Note that the ICE official may issue an immigration bond – payment of which will result in a relea…

Good, Let Them Die!

What a horrible name for a post, but I am simply quoting the comment of DLG to an article published today by the Associated Press noting that the soaring number of deaths on the Southern Border so far this year. DLG’s full quote is as follows:Good, let them die. Maybe if enough of them die, they will start to think it isn’t worth it to sneak over the border. It isn’t our country’s job to make sure that they are safe sneaking in.
We have to understand, as someone who recognizes that a broken immigration system is one of the principal reasons why these people (and they are people, real human beings with families and children and parents) keep dying in our southern desert. Now, in case you think this is an isolated sentiment, here is the comment of “Illegal Foreign Nationals”:Gotta love the news media and the ACLU, they keep calling these criminals immigrants by mistake. At least those that die aren’t stealing from america and the citizens of this country, except in funeral costs and resc…

RFE Hell and Increased USCIS Filing Fees

Dear Director Mayorkas:
Last week in a speech you broached the subject of the possible need to increase filing fees because of a decrease in the number of applications received by USCIS this fiscal year. You also noted that there was over $100 million shortfall in your budget because of these decreased filings. I have some suggestions to meet your budget.First, look at your budget projections from this last year. Last October, who didn’t see the recession? Why weren’t reductions in force made at that time? On April 1 when only 33% of the H-1B applications were filed as compared to the year before, why didn’t USCIS staff get pared down? A monumental increase in naturalization applications occurred before the Presidential elections (as they do every 4 years), who did not not see a decrease in naturalization applications for 2009! My heck, every business in America was laying off employees, but not USCIS!Second, have a heart to heart talk with anyone who issues an RFE that requires more t…

Due Process Restoration Now!

There has been a lot of talk recently about what might be included in an immigration reform bill. Will there be a legalization/amnesty/forgiveness of “lawbreakers” rule? Will there be an expansion of employment based and family based immigrant visa numbers to solve the economically devastating backlogs we currently deal with? Will there be a mandatory E-Verify component? Will there be an interior enforcement focus? Will there be even more fences?The topic that seems to be lost in all this speculation is something I consider to be the overriding component of reform–the Key to holding a reform package together. I am speaking, of course, of Due Process Restoration. Anyone who deals with immigrants for any length of time is intimately familiar with the disaster that is our immigration enforcement system. It is not just that previous administrations have done a horrific job at the enforcement that should have been taking place, but rather, the missing component to that enforcement. When is…

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Jose Hernandez

The joys of social networking: anyone can say anything about anything and put it up for the entire world to read, whether they’re an average Joe making a passing comment about their favorite sports team, or an above-average Jose musing on comprehensive immigration reform from the international space station literally a million miles away – which is exactly what happened last week.U.S. Astronaut Jose Hernandez officially became NASA’s first astronaut to “tweet” in Spanish, causing his popularity among Mexicans in the U.S. and in Mexico to skyrocket (pun intended), and giving him a platform from which to discuss his views on immigration reform.Hernandez’s space travel was followed closely by Mexicans both on Spanish-language television and on Twitter, where his posts (both in English and in Spanish) covered everything from space travel to reviewing Mexico’s most recent World Cup Qualifier matches. Now that he is back on Earth, his “fans” are following him on a more serious topic – immig…

Raids Relations – The Changing Face of the American Workforce

A few weeks ago, Steven Camarota of the Washington-based think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) presented a new report entitled “Jobs Americans Won’t Do? A Detailed Look at Immigrant Employment by Occupation”. The report, which was profiled in a front-page article in the USA Today on September 14, 2009, speaks to a couple of underlying truths which have yet to be addressed by this new administration: 1) The presence of immigrant workers in the American workforce is still a sore spot, and 2) To what extent will these workers be needed again when the economy turns around?In the report, CIS examines the “before-and-after” scenarios of some of the meatpacking plants across the country that experienced work site raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The report claims that despite staggering numbers of employees arrested at these plants during the raids, the plants were back up and running within a few months, thanks to the number of American-born or legal immigrant w…

“LIAR:” What The Healthcare Debate Means for Immigration Reform

During President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Congressman Joe Wilson (R. SC), shouted “LIAR!” when President Obama stated that the proposed health care plan would not cover “illegal aliens.” Now, Joe Wilson said he should know this because he once was an immigration lawyer. Whether that meant immigration from or to South Carolina, I am not sure, but one thing is for sure, no one I know ever knew Joe Wilson the immigration lawyer. If by “immigration lawyer” Mr. Wilson meant that he once helped an immigrant get deported, I am not sure that really counts. But if “Joe the Immigration Lawyer” is like “Joe the Plumber,” then maybe he thinks he really was one.After all, an immigration lawyer would likely be able to understand what exactly the law means when it says that only citizens and permanent residents are covered under the Obama plan. What has caused Joe Wilson to react like this, besides a serious lack of self control, is the provision in the proposed leg…

DHS Wants Your Comments On Immigration!

Right now, the DHS is in the middle of its Quadrennial review, where, apparently all areas that DHS works on are subject to public comment and discussion. If you go to this page you can comment directly on a variety of DHS, including immigration issues. We understand that these comments are given directly to those in the highest levels of office at DHS.Very few folks have been aware of this opportunity. Probably most important is the way this administration has phrased the debate: “Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws – Ideas.”I invite everyone interested in immigration needs to be part of this public debate. Click on the above links, make your comment and demand real immigration reform, not twisted and ill-directed “enforcement” whose only purpose is to convince congressman who will still never vote for positive immigration reform to actually do so.

Senator Kennedy–An Immigration Hero

Much will be said about Senator Kennedy’s passing over the next few days. My own personal experiences with the Senator were limited, but were nonetheless emblematic of what Senator Kennedy was to many–an Immigration Hero.My last opportunity to be with Senator Kennedy happened about 4 years ago, when I testified before the Immigration Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. What was striking about that hearing was Senator Kennedy’s commitment to the issue of immigration. The hearing was about refugees, and how we as a country handle refugee processing. Here is the key part of this story. There were only two Senators present for the hearing. Senator Chambliss, the Republican chair of that committee, who had invited me to speak, and Senator Kennedy.Senator Kennedy came up to me after the hearing, shook my hand, and thanked me for that my testimony and my opinion (heck he did ask for my opinion). He was gracious, kind, and genuinely concerned about refugees, which virtually no oth…

Famous Irish Americans

With the recent death of Ted Kennedy, I thought it would be interesting to look at other famous Americans of Irish descent:The last five presidents of the United States (Ronald Reagan, both George Bushs, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) are all descendants of Irish Immigrants. Not to mention George Washington, the first president and Joe Biden, the current vice-president. In fact, no less than 29 US presidents claim Irish descent. Nobody was willing to admit to being English- but we have our suspicions Richard Nixon!Walt Disney’s father was a Canadian of Irish decent.Michael Collins, astronaut.Athletes Tom Brady, John McEnroe and Mark McGwire are all Irish Americans too.There have been 9 Irish American Supreme Court justices including Sandra Day-O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and William J. Brennan.Actors George Clooney, Lara Flynn Boyle, Mel Gibson and every other actor whose name starts with Mc or O’ (Jerry O’Connell, Chris O’ Donnell, Rose McGowan etc. etc.)Too many writers to count.Were …

The Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

The Center for Trade Policy Studies issued a report which claims that an immigration reform program which included a legalization would save literally billions of dollars over the current policy of enforcement only. In Restriction or Legalization? Measuring the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform, Peter B. Dixon and Maureen T. Rimmer claim that using standard economic analysis tools (most of which are too complicated for mere mortals to understand), legalization is a huge net gain to the U.S. economy over the alternative current policy of immigration restriction and deportation. To this finding I can only say, No Duh!We have known for more than a decade, since the passage of IIRAIRA that enforcement was going to cost the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars. The alternative option of a workable, immigration law, with a forward looking vision for U.S. families, business and our economy would clearly be a better alternative to the anti-immigration restrictionist model found in IIRAIRA.…

The Healthcare Debate and Immigration Reform

Unless you have had your head buried in the sand for the last thirty days, you are aware that America is having a national “Debate” on healthcare reform. That is if you call a “debate” yelling at each other, accusing the other side of the “debate” of being a Nazi, a socialist, a birther, or a communist. Frankly, the only part of this debate that is not surprising to me, is how calm it is compared to the national debate we have experienced in the recent past on immigration enforcement and reform. Whether or not we agree with whatever reform package might be introduced in September by Senator Schumer, or what might ultimately be voted on by Congress, we have to understand is that the vehemence, vituperation, passion, and outright hatred we are experiencing right now over the healthcare reform agendas will PALE in comparison to what we will hear during the immigration debate.Let’s not kid ourselves. The groups that oppose immigrants are as strong as ever. Heck, the Know Nothings over at t…