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Showing posts from August, 2009

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…

H-1B Investigations–USCIS Run Amok!

As many of our members know, the USCIS is like a Jekyll and Hyde creation. With one face, USCIS happily grants benefits, issues approvals, and welcomes people as citizens. With the other face UCSIS distrusts everyone, believes there is a lie on every application, and looks for ways to disqualify clearly qualified applicants. As you all know, this is not an exaggeration. It is true of an agency still steeped in the “Culture of No.” Many of you remember the Religious Worker “Benefit Fraud Assessment Teams” that went out to make sure that the Catholic Church was actually still in business. The ability of the USCIS to conduct effective program reviews, rather than just sticking with its core strength of adjudications is rather dubious, to say the least. Recently AILA shared some information about a “new” benefit fraud assessment program in which USCIS is beginning to use the millions of dollars it has received over the last decade from the “fraud fee” in the H-1B program. This new program …

Jail Break: Re-Developing the Detention System for Immigrants

Throughout the course of the Bush Administration we heard numerous horror stories that managed to escape from the walls of America’s detention centers about the mistreatment of immigrant detainees. There were accounts of immigrants who had been abused by guards, asylees who had been detained despite being granted status, mothers who were not allowed access to breast pumps, children who were held behind razor wire, women giving birth while chained to a bed, sick men being denied any sort of medical examination or treatment for pain relief, people misdiagnosed as psychotic or even drugged to facilitate their transfer. The list goes on and on. In fact, from January of 2004 through April of 2008, over 70 immigrants died while in detention, the vast majority due to limited or no access to health care, or just falling through the cracks of the system.The Obama Administration has thus far been mostly mum on the immigration issue. In fact, just earlier this summer, the Administration rejected…

MLB: Migration, Labor, and Barack Recapping the President’s Immigration Runs, Hits and Errors

Summer is for baseball; for watching America’s pastime under a hot sun with a cold drink. It’s also a half-way point; an All-Star Break or a seventh-inning stretch, if you will. The kids are out of school, the boss is on vacation, and we can look back over the past six months and evaluate what we’ve done, and what we need to do to cross home plate. As we enter the bottom of the 7th inning of Mr. Obama’s first year as President, it’s worth examining his immigration policies thus far to determine where he has made strides and where he has struck out.Run: Replacing Chertoff with Napolitano
To begin, Obama brought in a new starting pitcher to replace Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff. Janet Napolitano has proven to be a good trade; as a Governor, she has good stats on immigration and a record to match. Critics, however, say that she has actually increased immigration enforcement measures and crackdowns, which Obama had originally pledged in the pre-season wou…

State Legislatures and Immigration Law–Its All About the Politics

Today’s report from the National Council for State Legislatures on the 2009 legislation related to immigration provides a stark view into the minds of local politicos on the issue of immigration: While national attention on immigration has declined, state legislatures are deliberating record levels of immigrant-related legislation. In the first half of 2009, state legislation related to immigration topped last year’s totals. So far this year, more than 1400 bills have been considered in all 50 states. At least 144 laws and 115 resolutions have been enacted in 44 states, with bills sent to governors in two additional states. A total of 285 bills and resolutions has passed legislatures; 23 of these bills are pending Governor’s approval and three bills were vetoed. No bills have been enacted in Alaska, Massachusetts, Michigan or Ohio.One of the key elements of this report is the focus on how FEW of the states have issued resolutions in support of some type of immigration reform at the fed…