Musings on Immigration

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Entering America Legally–Not As Easy As You Think!

In an interview 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 crime! You do not even need to have been convicted; the fact that you admit you did it will also get you barred from entry. Heck you will even be bounced from the United States after overstaying your visa for one day, leaving one day late, and then trying to come back in on that visa. Or, you will be detained and returned because the officer thinks you MIGHT be working.

So, if you were watching David Letterman and thanking your lucky stars that America is far nicer to arriving tourists than Japan–think again!

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 of a lack of talent and skilled employment, and an economy unable to nimbly shift from the 19th and 20th century into the 21st century. As a country, we can no longer tolerate what has become a human disaster.

Courage is not something we are used to seeing in Congress. But Congressman Gutierrez has secured 87 other honorable men and woman in Congress to stand with him in this effort. The question now becomes, who else has the courage to stand on the precipice and look into the horizon. Who else can see the future for what it CAN be with a workable immigration system? Political affiliation should NOT be an issue here. The love or hatred of immigrants or immigration cuts across party lines. The tragedy here is that politics will come into play. One party will play games with the other party and the game will be on. Anti-immigrationists will sing long and loud about “law breakers” and “illegals.” There will be, in the words of the Old Testament, much “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Over 200 years ago, Thomas Paine (he of “Common Sense” fame), wrote, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” I dare say we are back in those times. Courage is required, Fortitude is a must, and Patience is no longer a virtue. Reform of our immigration system can wait no longer. Congressman Gutierrez–Thank you for having the courage to begin this debate now.

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 of identifying themselves to authorities.

The solution? Fake IDs. Labs have been discovered across the state, and already the number of arrests from January – October of 2009 has far outrun the number of arrests in 2008 for the entire year. And that’s only the folks who have been arrested.

It’s a huge problem, if you think about what you can accomplish with only a driver’s license: cashing checks, procuring another form of ID, boarding an airplane. And it’s yet another reason why immigrants, with or without documents, should be able to obtain some form of state-issued ID. In a sense, immigrants are backed into a corner, with no options but to self-deport (ha!), find a low-paying job that allows them to live below the radar, or obtain some sort of ID, however falsified, in order to lead a productive life. Hey, if I was in their shoes, I’d probably do the same thing.

But it’s a national security issue. Do we really want tons of people we can’t identify? Do we want people flying our airlines and opening bank accounts under false names? Of course not. But given the state of the system, that has become the new reality. Driving is just a means of transportation. It’s no more a privilege than taking the subway, if you think about it. It is so much more important to be able to identify everyone than to worry about granting unnecessary privileges to undeserving undocumented immigrants. Because, let’s face it, you can’t protect the country if you don’t know who’s already here.

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, immigrants contributed to 72 percent of the total patent filings at Qualcomm, 65 percent at Merck, and 60 percent at Cisco Systems. And contrary to claims that immigrant patent-filers crowd out US-born researchers, emerging research is increasingly showing that immigrants actually tend to boost patent output by their US born colleagues. These immigrant patent-filers emerged from the US university system, where foreigners now dominate the advance degree seeking ranks in science, technology, engineering and mathematical disciplines. For example, during the 2004–2005 academic year, roughly 60 percent of engineering Ph.D. students and 40 percent of Master’s students were foreign nationals. (We don’t know for certain that those who have been leaving are patent-filers but anecdotal evidence suggests this to be the case). . . .

Beyond intellectual contributions, Chinese and Indian immigrants have been key entrepreneurial drivers in the US. According to another survey we conducted, one-quarter of all technology companies in the US have at least one founder who is a Chinese or Indian immigrant. The concentration is even heavier in certain key industries such as semiconductors and enterprise software. Based on this data, we calculated that in 2005, immigrant-founded tech companies generated $52 billion in revenue nationwide and employed 450,000 workers. This revenue total bridges multiple multi-billion dollar sectors including semiconductors, Internet, software and networking.


So, should Congress heed Mr. Buchanan’s call to literally seal America off from the rest of world? You be the judge. Frankly, I cannot imagine a stupider, more recession deepening act.

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 much anyone would have been better at being the DHS Secretary than Michael Chertoff.
  • Worksite Raids – THE GOOD: Or lack thereof, should I say? Sure, we’ve seen some action, but nothing compared to the atrocities we saw in Postville or New Bedford a few years back. The few raids that did occur were not only conducted in a much more humane manner, but actually went after bad-apple employers as well. THE BAD: The E-Verify issue continues to crop up and seems to be growing in popularity since the Administration tends to waffle on how they want to handle the enforcement aspect of the immigration issue.
  • Relief for Widows – THE GOOD: In one of my personal favorite highlights of the year, widowed spouses of U.S. Citizens are now eligible to have their petitions reinstated at the discretion of USCIS. THE BAD: At the very least, they can request deferred action.
  • Mass Trials – THE GOOD: For immigrants detained at the border, en masse trials are no longer a viable option and have been overruled. Unlike previously when immigrants caught at the border were rounded up, read their rights as a group and asked to enter group guilty pleas, each person now shall be awarded an individual hearing before the judge. THE BAD: It will probably be much less efficient and a lot more expensive.
  • Lou Leaves – THE GOOD: Lou Dobbs and his nightly rants will no longer corrupt innocent minds across the nation, and Boston-Boy John King and his Magic Map will fill the 7PM primetime spot on CNN. THE BAD: Lou’s considering a Senate run for the state of New Jersey. (I don’t like New Jersey either, but come on!)

Either way, again, 2009 has not been a big year for immigration. We can only hope for good things in the year to come.

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 people. Laws exist for a reason, and they try to encompass what will be most fair for most people. The issue with immigration law is that it is so discretionary, but discretion seems to be exercised on all the wrong people. A “point-system,” which takes into account things like: a clean criminal record, an impressive academic history and achievements, economic contributions and paying taxes, English proficiency, and likeliness to not make use of public assistance, could be a great way to for the U.S. to keep immigrants who are productive members of society, but who aren’t among the wealthy 1% who can invest their way out of their woes, or down-and-out enough to qualify on a “hardship” claim.

Take Person A, for example. He is a bright young man. One point. He’s bilingual. Two points. He works hard, takes care of his wife and new baby, and has a clean record except for a speeding ticket. Three points. Despite being brought to the U.S. illegally as a young child by his parents, he graduated at the top of his class with especially high marks in math and physics and a strong desire to go to college and study aerospace engineering (which, last I checked, was one of the areas of study deemed as a great need for the future of this country). Ten points. Instead he’s taking voluntary departure because the only thing he did wrong aside from follow his parents to the U.S. when he was nine years old was fall in love with and marry a non-U.S. Citizen and have a healthy baby boy. His child isn’t sick enough, and his wife isn’t poor enough or American enough, so forget about all the points he may have racked up, we’ve kicked this future engineer to the curb.

Person B is a successful businessman. One point. He speaks fluent English and lives happily with his professional, educated wife. Two points. He owns his own company and provides jobs to dozens of workers in his area, even in a time of economic downturn. Ten points. And he’s on the next plane home, to the dismay of even the ICE officers who took him into custody.

Person C is a young woman who can barely read or write in her own language, let alone in English. She has three children, all of whom receive Medicaid, WIC or Social Security Disability. Throughout her years in the country she has openly admitted to using at least three different Social Security numbers to obtain work, but now relies on her son’s Social Security Disability payment for a significant portion of her monthly earnings. Due to the medical conditions of her two youngest children (one has a disability the other is severely autistic) she qualifies for “extreme hardship” and wins her right to stay in the U.S. In person, she’s thoughtful and sweet and her condition merits sympathy, to be sure. But should sympathy and hardship be the only qualifiers? I don’t think so.

I’m not advocating for her removal, or for the removal of anyone subject to extreme hardship, for that matter. I think it is admirable and very humanitarian of the U.S. to consider the plight of the poor. But I am suggesting that it seems unfair, to both hardworking immigrants and to this country as a whole, to “dump” people simply because they don’t qualify under a hardship clause. How many businessmen (or businesswomen), or engineers or scientists have we deported? We are supposed to be a nation that inspires the best in people, yet we’re throwing away some of our most valuable resources and wondering why other countries are emerging more powerful and making strides in science and technology that we are not.

With any luck, a reform package will be discussed in the next year or so. I can only hope it includes some sort of relief for those “in-between” people. Not everyone can buy or marry their way out of an immigration problem, and we’ve got to start keeping some of the smart people.

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 allow yourself to be pressured into accepting what the ill-trained 287(g) officers say is your fate.

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 you can win the executive softball league.”

Rovell explained his bizarre views in an article on CNBC’s web site:It’s a stunning headline: American Wins Men’s NYC Marathon For First Time Since ‘82. Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it sounds. Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday in New York, is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he’s not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement the headline implies.


Mr. Rovell later apologized, because he realized what an idiot he sounded like. But the apology was hollow, without meaning, and dug the hole even deeper. He explained that because this great runner had trained here since he was young, he was now American “enough” to count.

It turns out, Keflezighi moved to the United States in time to develop at every level in America. So Meb is in fact an American trained athlete and an American citizen and he should be celebrated as the American winner of the NYC Marathon. That makes a difference and makes him different from the “ringer” I accused him of being. Meb didn’t deserve that comparison and I apologize for that.


Mr. Rovell, you sir are an emblem of what is wrong with the immigration debate in America today. I suppose that in your opinion that folks like Albert Einstein (immigrated as an adult), Zbigniew Brezinski (immigrated as an adult and fellow NBC employee), Isaac Asimov (a favorite of mine), Dan Aykroyd (he was born funny in Canada), Alexander Graham Bell (a Scott, who immigrated as an adult), Wayne Gretzky (learned Hockey in Canada), Patrick Ewing (who was also a U.S. Olympian–guess we should give that Gold Medal back, eh Mr. Rovell), and literally millions of others, simply do not count as “real” Americans to Mr. Rovell because they did not “grow up” as Americans. I guess we should reject them and their contributions to America becuase they did not “grow up” here.

As my kids might say, Dude, stop drinking the Haterade! America is a nation of immigrants. Once you take that oath, it is your future that matters, not your past. This sentiment is the beauty of what it means to be an American. You are part of a greater good, you are part of the greatest experiment in the history of mankind. You the former immigrant, are now an American. You are now as good as Mr. Rovell, even if you did not grow up in America. You are now as good as anyone else. Mr. Rovell, take a civics course and learn what it means to be an “American.”

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 and his family to leave the country, they fired him from his job. Michael and his wife took temporary jobs while they waited to receive their visas. A group known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) helped the family. Michael and his wife took turns watching young Sergey. In the meantime, Michael decided to teach himself computer programming. Sergey watched, even though he was only six years old.
HIAS helped the family in many ways. They helped the family understand the process of leaving the country, helped them prepare their visa applications, paid for their tickets out of the Soviet Union, and even gave them money to help them start their new life. Then one day, about nine months later, the visas arrived and Sergey and his family left the Soviet Union as refugees.

Sergey and his family ended up in the United States in the state of Maryland. Sergey went to school and studied a lot. He wanted to study computer science and math, just like his father.

While he was in graduate school, Sergey made a friend named Larry. They decided to start a business together. They wanted to create the biggest, best search engine for the internet that anyone had ever seen. They named their company “Google.”
Google became one of the most successful companies ever in the United States, and Sergey became very rich. Today he is the 26th richest man in the entire world, and he is worth over $12 billion!

Last week, Sergey was thinking about coming to the United States as a refugee. He remembered how full of hope his family had been in leaving their country and starting a new life. And he remembered how much HIAS had helped his family. He wanted to help other families like his start over and have opportunities to do great things.

Sergey and his wife decided to give $1 million to HIAS. The Chief Executive of HIAS, Mr. Gideon Aronoff, thanked him and said, “one of the most important things that Sergey Brin’s gift signifies, not just for HIAS but more importantly for the nation, is the possibilities inherent in being a refugee. The debate over immigration has frequently become so bitter that an element has been lost: refugees are as varied in their skill sets and contributions as the rest of us.”

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 to forgive me in advance, math is the reason I went to law school. Also, the USCIS simply has not released clear numbers (possibly for fear of letting folks know exactly how long their wait will actually be).
My focus for this analysis will be in the EB-2 and Eb-3 categories, since it is in those categories that our clients are most interested. There are four basic numbers we are looking for, NONE of them are easy to find. Let’s discover the basic numbers we will be using:

First, how many approved I-140 cases are awaiting a visa number? According to AILA’s recent liaison meeting with DOS, there are 198,186 “case ready” I-140 petitions awaiting visa issuance, in the EB-2 (52,584), EB-3 (139,737) and EW (5,865) categories. Case ready means (as best as we understand), that as soon as the petition is current, the Adjustment will be approved or consular processing will begin. Obviously, the EB-2 numbers are only for India and China.

Second, how many pending I-140 cases are there at the Service Centers awaiting adjudication? According to the June 2009, USCIS Production Update Report to Congress, USCIS had 85,970 pending I-140 cases awaiting adjudication. Unfortunately, USCIS does not break out the I-140 cases in this report between EB-2 and EB-3. These are the most recent numbers I could find.

Third, how many pending I-140 cases are at the District Offices? I have no idea! I cannot locate anywhere the numbers of cases at the local USCIS offices. No one knows. Really. There is no report that I can find where this number has been released. And, frankly, I do not believe that USCIS has an accurate count on this either (I do pray they get such a count soon).

Fourth, how many pending labor certifications are there at the DOL? This number is actually pretty sure. There are 62,100 pending labor certifications as of the September 22 stakeholder meeting with DOL (not counting pending appeals). Unfortunately, again, we do not know which of the categories (EB-2 or EB-3) the cases will fall under.

Now, it is time for the math. Assuming all pending Labor Certifications and pending I-140s are approved (yes, I know some will be denied and some are duplicates), there are at least a total of 346,256 individuals with approved or soon to be approved petitions awaiting green cards, not including their families. If we assume an average family size of 4 people (I believe this is a safe assumption), there are 1,385,024 people waiting on employment based green cards in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories.
I know the number is huge! And next we have to try to fit that number into the two separate EB categories. Unfortunately, we have two problems in doing this. The first problem we have is that we do not know how many of these I-140 cases are in the EB-2, or EB-3 categories. So, let’s use a little deductive reasoning here. Using experience and best guessing based upon the division we already know about in the numbers of cases from the DOS, lets say 26% are EB-2 (360,162), and 74% are EB-3 (1,024,917).

The second problem is that we do not have a per country breakdown. (I hope the USCIS has that breakdown). How to account for this? Again, let’s estimate based upon the DOS numbers, that India accounts for 70% of the EB-2 and 39% of the EB-3
numbers and that China accounts for 30% of the EB-2 and only 3% of the EB-3 numbers and the rest of the world accounts for 58% of the EB-3 numbers.

We also know the maximum numbers available in any given year for all family and employment based categories is 25,630 (with some caveats), and that there are only a total of 80,000 employment based immigrant visas in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories combined (with some flow down from other categories).

You can see we have leaped, jumped, guessed, and assumed our way to the follow conclusions:
India EB-3 wait for permanent residence for a labor certification filed today: 15.8 years. This generous estimate comes from the fact that an estimated 399,717 Indian Nationals waiting for 25,630 visas a year. This estimate completely ignores the possible immigration of any family based immigrants which would subtract from this total and increase the wait time, and the number that would flow down from other immigrant visa categories, so the wait time is probably longer.

China EB-2 wait for permanent residence for a labor certification (or NIW) filed today: 4.1 years. This estimate comes from the estimated 108,048 Chinese Nationals waiting for 25,630 visas a year. This estimate completely ignores the possible immigration of any family based immigrants that would subtract from this total and increase the wait time, and the number that would flow down from other immigrant visa categories.And these waits are from when the person STARTS the green card, not when they come into the United States.

Worldwide EB-3 wait for permanent residence for a labor certification filed today: Well, there are 594,451 people waiting in this queue. The limiting factor here will be the 80,000 annual limit on employment based immigration. Excluding per country limits and flow down from other employment based immigrant visa categories, this is at least a 8.1 year wait.

I can now tell my client a waiting date based upon, at least, some real numbers. But, I will still be wrong. The dates are not accurate, but at least it is not made up out of whole cloth. But we now all understand that we cannot look at the Visa Bulletin and actually determine how long the wait is.

The point of this whole exercise, besides telling my client how long he still might have to wait, is to point out the consequences of these numbers.

Line? What Line? These are employment based immigrants. Every single one has a job offer, an employer, and a certification that either there are no qualified, willing and able US workers for the job, or that the individual is so good, we do not even have to test the labor market. We need these people. We want these people. How many do you think will now just give up and go home?

This delay in legal, employment based immigration is a crisis for America. If you are an intending immigrant, and your immigration option is employment based, do you have the patience the wait 15 years for your green card? Can you do better in Australia, Canada, or even back home in your home country? What is the cost to our future competitiveness of a broken legal immigration system? What is the cost to U.S. innovation?

I believe these numbers have a purpose. The purpose is immigration reform, and not just a legalization. We all know that a broken legal immigration system causes illegal immigration. We need to fix the legal immigration system now! We need to modify the process, significantly shorten the wait and increase the numbers to meet the demand. We need to not include family members in the total calculated visa numbers. And, Yes, we need to make these change even in a struggling economy.

We must maintain the great benefits that positive, focused employment based immigration has delivered to America. The reality is that Congress must act to help save the future of American innovation and economic growth. And, they must do it now.

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 these non-citizens will increase the population count in some states, which would result in a loss of congressional seats for other states, including Louisiana.

Clearly, the proposed legislation has raised many questions, but not only from civil-rights and Latino groups. Even some Republicans signed a letter that was released last week criticizing Vitter’s amendment; and the consistently anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a Washington-based research group, also came out against the proposed amendment. The group’s research director Steven Camarota said that Vitter’s amendment was not the right way to go about addressing the problem of illegal immigration, and that it was too late in the game to make significant changes to the 2010 Census.

Surprisingly enough, while many Latino groups have come out against the legislation, one group is talking about the possible merits of the legislation. The Rev. Miguel Rivera of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders said, “It’s basically the best thing to happen to us since sliced bread.” He goes on to explain that illegal immigrants should not be factored in when it comes to calculating electoral districts, but also thinks that this legislation could be a great way to convince Latinos to boycott the Census and apply pressure on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package sooner rather than later.

There’s no question that the proposed legislation has created some rather unconventional alliances. But here are a few more reasons why I think it’s just a really bad idea:

• The bill feeds off public animosity over the immigration debate to create an even more rigorous set of laws for immigrants, in turn creating a vicious cycle that perpetuates a dialogue of hatred while legislatively accomplishing nothing;

• Inquiring about immigration status may raise questions of the confidentiality of the information provided to the Census Bureau among citizens, and non-citizens, residents, and non-residents, alike;

• A citizenship question would likely impede Latino participation in the count, a group which is the largest minority in the United States today. Their lack of participation could seriously skew the results; and

• My favorite: former census directors have stated that adding another question this late in the game could not only delay the Census, but could add significant additional costs to the $7 BILLION ALREADY SPENT on the survey. Not with my tax dollars!

With any luck, the provision will not pass and the issue, for the moment at least, will be safe. However, it’s only a matter of time until the next member of Congress comes along with a new trick up their sleeve to sneak the immigration issue back onto the floor. What Congress needs to realize is that the real treat for everyone would be to have a respectful, honest discussion about how to seriously solve one of the nation’s scariest problems.

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 outside the 180 day requirement. Matter of Spires Restaurant, 2009-PER-00125 (8/25/09). AILA Doc. No. 09102063.

BALCA Affirms Denial Based on Employer’s Failure to State Experience Requirement on PWD Requesthttp://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=30343 BALCA affirms the PERM denial based on the employer’s failure to state the experience requirement on the Prevailing Wage Determination request to the State Workforce Agency. Matter of Florida Restaurant Group, LLC, 2009-PER-00014 (8/25/09). AILA Doc. No. 09102064.


I could list dozens of other denials from BALCA on similar ticky-tack issues, but I think you get the point–BALCA does not care that you or the employer misread one line in a hundreds of pages of FAQs, regulations, or liaison minutes. You missed it and that is not DOL’s problem. No Soup For You. Refile. Get to the Back of the Line. We do not care how it affects your business. The real tragedy here is that BALCA gives you this decision 4-5 YEARS after you filed the original labor certification, adding insult to injury.

Some would say this is a reason to have a simplified immigration system as it relates to the permanent employment of foreign nationals in the United States. I cannot disagree. The promise of PERM–quick approvals and denials based upon “real world” recruitment, is an illusion, nothing more. PERM is a blight on our immigration system. It does not protect American workers in any serious way, it asks employers to jump through more hoops than a show dog, and puts lawyers in the unenviable positions of advising employers on how to navigate a set of non-real world regulations, FAQs, and liaison minutes (when we can actually get answers), using a poorly developed computer filing program so complex that Einstein would have to invent a new Theory of PERM Relativity to explain it to a layman!

Who would have thought that we would pyne for days of “regular” labor certifications! What a farce this system has become in the name of progress.

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 release from jail.
3. If I don’t pay the county bond, what will happen?
Your relative will remain in Cobb County until the underlying charges are disposed of. He will remain in the immigration section of the jail and should then be interviewed by an ICE official within 24 hours.
4. How often does ICE pick up detainees from the Jail?
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
5. Where will ICE take my relative?
Cobb County will bus detainees to the Atlanta ICE Office. From there they will be sent to the various detention centers based on their country of origin.

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 rescue costs. We should have our military forces along the border to have better border security and keep these illegal foreign nationals out of this country.

It is deplorable to call these Mexican illegals immigrants when they had no immigration records or identification unless that too is forged. It’s too bad more of them aren’t dieing from bullet wounds for invasion and terrorism to america.

Our economy would not be in the mess it is if all illegals trying to cross our borders were caught, killed, or returned before they get in to the pockets of government agency’s. Americans would have jobs, paying taxes, and have some expendable incomes.And never refer to them as immigrants, they are criminals breaching our national borders intent on destroying our economy. By all definitions that is terrorism.


What is missing from the comments in this article, and in dozens of other articles around the country today, are two things. First, a recognition that our Immigration Laws are broken. And, second, compassion. Wishing death on people who want a better life for them and their children is simply not the American way.

Take a moment today to comment on one of these articles and put the message out there–Congress, Fix Our Broken Immigration System!

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 than 5 pages to respond to. This last week we submitted a 3,000 page (30 lb.) response to an RFE (see the picture above), which alleged that an Accountant was not a professional position! Director, what is the deal with your Service Centers? Is there simply too little to do and too many employees? The “service” we are receiving as your customers is not doing the American Economy any good.

Third, why are the local adjudications officers interviewing non-current priority date visa applicants, including on Saturdays in September! You are paying OVERTIME to examiners to interview people who cannot be approved for their green cards. What sense does that make?

I have many other ideas as well if you would like to chat. The bottom line is this. The agency you have just taken over is in serious need of a top to bottom review. You have a monstrous challenge ahead of you to bring this agency in line with the priorities it should have. Priorities that not only include national security, but also ensuring our own economic well being and competitiveness by promoting job growth and allowing companies to hire qualified workers, keeping families together through reunification, and bringing new citizens into the fold.

You need to get control of service centers, where officers are issuing, at increasingly frequent rates, Requests for Evidence that are not only unnecessary, but which are onerous and burdensome, and appear to be designed to make the employer give up his request for the visa application. You have local offices finding marriage “fraud” where no such fraud exists. You have CIS doing 25,000 random walk ins of legitimate U.S. employers of H-1B workers, disrupting the workplace asking questions about the H-1B employer, without regard to a lawyers appearance in the case in clear violation of the 6th Amendment. The list could go on about what your agency is doing wrong. And, while there are things USCIS does right, the reality is that rather than serving immigrants and their employers, you are punishing them.

So, before you raise your fees, I think you MUST first get your own house in order. You should not and cannot honestly balance your budgetary disaster on the backs of the employers and immigrants you are committed to serving.
With all sincerity, I wish you the best of luck in your new position.

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 the last time an ICE officer worried about Due Process considerations? What is really destroying immigrant families–how about 212(a)(9)(B) and (C)? What about the concept of “civil” detention in real jails with real criminals for non-criminal immigrants? What about the detention of Asylum Seekers? What about the ludicrous requirements of REAL ID for asylum seekers?

These are all only a few of the regular violations of concepts most American hold sacred. When you tell the ‘average’ American about the system immigrants actually have to deal with, most are appropriately appalled. It is to those Americans that we must speak. I believe that if Senator Schumer has the courage to include Due Process Restoration in his “Comprehensive” immigration reform bill, it will be tragically necessary for us to defend these Due Process provisions of the reform package.

Take a look at this video, and sign up to support including Due Process Restoration in a comprehensive immigration reform bill.



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 – immigration reform.

Hernandez, a California native born of Mexican migrants who crossed the border illegally in search of a way out of poverty, learned to speak English at age 12, worked in the fields alongside his parents and applied 12 years in a row to become an astronaut before he was finally chosen in 2004, according to an AP article that appeared in the New York Times on September 14, 2009.

“The American economy needs them,” Hernandez said of undocumented workers in a recent telephone interview with Mexico’s Televisa network, “I believe it’s only fair to find a way to legalize them and give them an opportunity to work openly.” Hopefully, Hernandez will be able to generate some sort of buzz on the issue, and perhaps light a fire under Congress to begin talks of reforms, but in the meantime, it is nice to introduce a fresh face and a new American success story for immigration reform.

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 workers lined up and ready to assume positions that were commonly referred to as “jobs Americans won’t do.” Throughout the immigration debate, one of the sore spots for many Americans has been the idea that immigrant workers illegally present in the country were taking jobs away from Americans who were authorized to work, and, in the process, driving down wages for everyone. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, many groups quickly dismissed the allegations that immigrants were taking jobs away from Americans by claiming that the immigrants were doing jobs that Americans didn’t want: cleaning bathrooms, harvesting crops, constructing buildings, and slaughtering swine.

However, a closer look at the situation as a whole raises some new questions. Plant supervisors around the country have praised the work ethic of these immigrants, and many claim that the Latino immigrant workers far outlast American workers in slaughterhouse jobs. And everyone remembers the raid at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa in May of 2008. The plant’s slaughter floor was largely staffed by undocumented immigrants, both Latino and Eastern European. After the raid, the plant all but shut down for lack of labor, among other issues. Even when the plant regained some momentum and was able to hire new workers, the workers they brought in were refugees from Somalia. Legal workers, yes, but not native-born Americans. This is not a unique scenario. Plants across the country have been filling the gaps with legal immigrants, primarily new arrivals, but still not native-born Americans.

The report does cite some instances where the American-born population has begun to assume these positions, but only fairly recently. After the Postville raid eighteen months ago, the plant still couldn’t find American workers to fill those jobs – even in America’s heartland (Iowa’s population is about 4% Hispanic). Today, the tides have changed a bit. The economy is in shambles, jobs are scarcer than they were a year ago, money is tighter, and after several months of being out of work, many Americans have realized that while slashing swine with a machete for twelve hours a day may not be ideal, it will put food on the table. As Mr. T. Willard Fair, President of the Urban League of Greater Miami puts it, “It has taken the greatest recession in a generation for poor Americans to line up to work in fields and factories. We’ll take anything now. We’re willing to be exploited for awhile.”

In short, Americans aren’t taking these jobs because they’ve had a sudden change of heart, they’re taking them because they don’t have a choice. But this brings to light another issue. What happens when the economy rebounds in a few years? What happens when those Americans who took plant jobs out of desperation find new, better-paying, more comfortable opportunities? Who will do those jobs then? This administration must examine the issues surrounding the number of H-visas available, for both skilled and low-skilled workers. As the American economy starts to rebound, we will need not only the best and brightest from around the world, but we will need to make sure we have enough labor to support the work that those people are doing.

Legal workers might be able to use the weak economy to their advantage for the moment, but the day will come when we will be right back where we started with undocumented workers, which means that now is the time to be thinking about these much-needed reforms, and how we can design them to benefit our growing economy.

“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 legislation that eliminates the requirement of using the “SAVE” system to verify whether someone who is an immigrant, is legally in the United States. Use of this program has stopped very few undocumented immigrants from getting public benefits, but has stopped literally thousands of U.S. citizens, mostly poor, from obtaining benefits because of their lack of accessible proof of their citizenship.

Factcheck.org has presented a short article on Seven Falsehoods About Health Care. One of those applies directly to this point:

False: Illegal Immigrants Will Be Covered. One Republican congressman issued
a press release claiming that “5,600,000 Illegal Aliens May Be Covered Under Obamacare,” and we’ve been peppered with queries about similar claims. They’re not true. In fact, the House bill (the only bill to be formally introduced in its entirety) specifically says that no federal money would be spent on giving illegal immigrants health coverage:

H.R. 3200: Sec 246 — NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS. Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

Also, under current law, those in the country illegally don’t qualify for federal health programs. Of interest: About half of illegal immigrants have health insurance now, according to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center, which says those who lack insurance do so principally because their employers don’t offer it.“Misleading GOP Health Care Claims” July 23 – by Brooks Jackson, Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson and Jess Henig.

I can certainly see both sides of the debate, and, frankly, neither side is being completely honest or clear. What is quite clear, is how immigration, and our broken immigration system, keeps coming up in the context of the debate of national agenda items, such as the health care debate.
Several weeks ago I blogged on the danger that the tone of the Health care debate had for the coming immigration reform debate. Calling the President a Liar during his speech to a joint session to Congress is Exhibit A in what we have in store for the coming debate. If Joe Wilson the Immigration Lawyer can misrepresent the consequences of legislative language as straight forward as these two particular sections, we have to be prepared for the extraordinary misrepresentations of any positive aspects of an immigration reform bill. Whether it is “amnesty,” “rewarding law breakers,” “open borders,” “Liars,” or even “destroyers of American culture” we have to understand how to phrase and present the response. Without a doubt, the response from those of us who understand the need to balance immigration reform, with security concerns, and with economic growth has to be not only vocal, but focused. We, as Real Immigration Lawyers, must know the language of the proposed legislation, we must know the myths that are out there, and we need to be vocal in our response.
Next week, more than 40 talk radio hosts are descending on Capital Hill for the FAIR Annual Scare the Crap Out of Congress Boondoggle. The outrageous claims of the downfall of America caused by illegal immigration, along with similarly nutty myths will be presented as facts. Actual real news organization will cite the Center for Immigration Studies as a legitimate source of information. We must be prepared to call into our local radio stations, whose hosts are in D.C. next week, and be prepared to present the facts of immigration. Not by sugar coating the problems that are caused by illegal immigration, but rather by pointing out which specific laws are broken (INA 212(a)(9) anyone?) and how having a comprehensive solution can actually fix the immigration pothole in the legislative superhighway. Immigration Lawyers it is time to Stand Up and be vocal and beat back the immigration myths.

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 other Senator cared enough about to show up for the hearing. Now, as a lifelong Republican I could say there are many reasons to knock down Senator Kennedy. But the bottom line is that he cared when no one else did. Ultimately, what better epitaph can be written about someone–He cared about those no one else cared for.

Senator Kennedy was a leader on a reform of our immigration laws, starting back when he was the junior Senator from Massachusetts. He lead the reform or the immigration quota system in 1967. He lead the way for IRCA in 1986. He lead the reform of our family and employment based immigration systems in 1990. He opposed as much as he could the disaster that was IIRAIRA, and even through 2007 was a key Senator in beating back the awful legislation that had passed the House of Representatives that would have sent immigration law back to the 1920s. He was, in every way imaginable, an Immigration Hero. We may never see a leader like him again.

Even though I did not agree with Senator Kennedy on many issues, I know he was right on this one. And I for one would hope that someone would one day say what I know say about him: He cared about those for whom no one else cared. God’s Speed to you Senator Kennedy.

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 there any bad Irish Americans?

After extensive research, I can state categorically that yes, there were two. Billy the Kid (November 23, 1859 — July 14, 1881), who was really just a victim of circumstance himself and James “Whitey” Bulger (born 1929) – legendary Boston mobster and former leader of the Winter Hill Gang. Sorry Mr. Bulger, I’m sure you were only doing your best!

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 question once again becomes, does Congress have the courage to do what is right and pass comprehensive immigration reform and put the vestiges of immigration restrictionism behind us, or not? Or, will it cave under the pressure of a vocal minority of those for him deportation is the only solution?

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.

Yelling Lady

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 the Center for Immigration Studies even have a “press conference” next week touting their newest anti-immigrant theory about how the entire healthcare crisis in America is caused and increased by immigrants, both legal and illegal. And this from what some in the media believe is a mainstream non-partisan research group! Groups such as Numbers USA, FAIR, and the myriad of other Tanton-affiliated anti-immigration groups will ensure that the phones on Capitol Hill shut down and that they scream louder than anyone else. Their solution for our immigration crisis (actually, their solution for ANY crisis), is simply to deport all undocumented andlegal immigrants, closing the door on the last person to leave.

Rather than close your ears to the current Healthcare debate, listen carefully, see where loudest shouts come from, and then be ready for the same crowd to shout down immigration reform, but do so louder, bolder and with more vehemence. Be ready for the name calling, the anti-American accusations, and the nastiness to be worse than we have ever experienced. Be prepared now to engage in constructive advocacy, but also learn from those supporting healthcare reform. If any reform of either healthcare OR immigration happens in the next six to ten months it will happen ONLY if the supporters are louder (but nicer) and more insistent than the opposers (to coin a phrase).

You now have a history lesson happening before your eyes. Recognize it, learn from it, and whatever you do, don’ t repeat it.