Posts Tagged ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’

SB 1070 is Dead–Where to do we go from here?

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

In her decision on the constitutionality of Arizona’s SB 1070, Judge Bolton was quite specific as to what provisions were unconstitutional:

Applying the proper legal standards based upon well-established precedent, the Court finds that the United States is likely to succeed on the merits in showing that the following Sections of S.B. 1070 are preempted by federal law:

Portion of Section 2 of S.B. 1070 –A.R.S. § 11-1051(B): requiring that an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States, and requiring verification of the immigration status of any person arrested prior to releasing that person

Section 3 of S.B. 1070–A.R.S. § 13-1509: creating a crime for the failure to apply for or carry alien registration papers

Portion of Section 5 of S.B. 1070– A.R.S. § 13-2928(C): creating a crime for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for, or perform work

Section 6 of S.B. 1070–A.R.S. § 13-3883(A)(5): authorizing the warrant-less arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.

Her rationale was simple–These specific provisions unconstitutionally infringe on the Federal Governments authority in the area of Immigration.  She has a long line of authority supporting her reasoning, dating back to Supreme Court cases from 1941.   There is not going to be a successful appeal.  Period.  From a rational point of view, we do not want or need, as a country, 50 different states passing 50 different versions of immigration law.  It is not good for commerce, it is not good for the country, and it certainly is not good for immigrants.

Rather than wasting time (and we are wasting time) fighting a law that the writers KNEW would be declared unconstitutional (don’t doubt that Kris Kobach knew he would lose this fight), why don’t opponents of “illegal immigration” spend time working with members of Congress to pass legislation that changes our immigration laws to reflect the economics of the 21st Century, the goals we have as a country for new immigrants, the demands employers have for skilled and unskilled labor, due process guarantees, and the reunification of families?  Why, because the folks who virulently oppose “illegal immigration” are not interested in fixing the system to decrease illegal immigration. They are only interested in eliminating immigrants.

Twenty years of fighting illegal immigration by ever tougher enforcement and attrition simply has not worked.  Billions of dollars have been spent, and yet folks still cross the border illegally and overstay their visas.  The size of the border patrol has quintupled and we have deported record numbers of immigrants, and yet there is no significant decrease in the overall numbers of undocumented immigrants (absent economic reasons).  As Einstein said:  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the very definition of Insanity.  Do we really want an insane immigration policy?  I hope so, because that is exactly what we have right now, and we desperately need to fix it.

How about instead of appealing a well reasoned and strongly supported decision, Governor Brewer (and her fellow Governors)  sits down with her members of Congress and encourages them to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform package that discourages future illegal immigration by making available avenues for legal immigration that meet the economic and societal needs of a modern America?  This same legislation can shrink the size of the current undocumented population by providing incentives to obtain legal status.  Magically, her concerns are addressed, AND the folks at DHS can focus on those folks who mean to do us harm, rather stopping dishwashers  and landscapers.

The Arizona Law and Immigration Reform

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Much has been written and said about the new Arizona Law pertaining to immigrants (it pertains to everyone actually, and certainly is not limited to undocumented immigrants). From Eugene Robinson and Richard Cohen at the Washington Post, to John Stewart on The Daily Show, and even Tom Tancredo, everyone is up in arms about this law. We have heard from Megan McCain (John McCain’s daughter), President Obama, and even from Governor Jan “Show Me Your Papers” Brewer, all opine about the law and WHY the Arizona Legislature had to act on “illegal” immigration.

The conventional wisdom now is that Congress will be “forced” to act on immigration reform. The caution to understand here, from pundits and politicians alike is that the prospect of immigration reform based upon a knee jerk reaction to an unconstitutional law does not change the inherent political dynamics in Congress. Immigration reform needs 60 votes to pass the Senate. The lone Republican who was supporting reform, Senator Lindsey Graham, has threatened to withdraw his support for moving the bill at this time if the Democrats do not move the climate legislation first; other Republican Senators likely to support the bill are not exactly popping out of the woodwork.
The caution sign is up. There will be no reform until President Obama exercises real leadership here and relentlessly calls for legislation, and actually proposes workable solutions. There will be no reform until some Republicans decide that doing what is right for America is more important cowtowing to nativists (some already have called for reform). And, there will be no reform until Democrats stop using the prospect of reform as sort of a carrot to get Hispanics to come to the polls in November. All three of these stumbling blocks to reform need to be removed at the same time. Let’s pray that our elected politicians in Washington will finally exercise leadership on immigration and do what is good and right for America.

Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly on CIR–Surreality Has Arrived

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Okay, so Lou Dobbs appears on Bill O’Reilly’s show last night. And Dobbs appears the more rational one. It is amazing what a desire to get into politics will do to one’s “uncompromising” standards. Watch it here:

Hearing about it, does not do it justice.

Due Process Restoration Now!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

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.

Restore Fairness: bring back due process to the immigration system from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

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

Friday, September 11th, 2009

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.

The Senate is on the Immigration Path!

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

The Senators are coming, the Senators are coming! That’s right, the Senate is debating the DHS Appropriations bill right now, and immigration amendments are being offered. I blogged about the Sessions E-Verify proposal yesterday. Well bill, that passed by voice vote this morning, but not before the Senate voted down a proposal from Senator Schumer to table the Sessions proposal. Senator Leahy, in an astute move prior to the vote on Sessions’ E-Verify bill, amended that bill to include a permanent extension of the EB-5 Regional Pilot Program. So, Leahy’s amendment permanently extending the EB-5 Regional Pilot Program was approved too!

Senator DeMint from South Carolina threw in a bill to mandate the construction of actual fences along 700 miles of the Southern Border, taking away the right of DHS/CBP to decide how best to protect that border. That has also passed.

Senator Hatch has now introduced a bill which includes positive changes including undoing the Widow Penalty, and a religious worker extension and a rural doctors program extension. You can still call the Senate Switchboard to voice your support for this latter bill, and your disgust with the Senate passage of laws without debate that will affect millions of lives and cost billions of dollars. You can reach your Senator by calling 202-224-3121.

All of these amendments, of course, must now go back to a conference committee with the House, and there is no guarantee that any of them will become law. But, lest you thought your time to relax from calling your Congressman was over, it has now started again. Get on the phone and start demanding REAL Immigration Reform, rather than this piecemeal junk.

Senator Schumer and Immigration

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Okay, the opening salvo is fired. Senator Schumer has announced the starting point of this year’s immigration reform debate, kind of. In an article in the Washington Post, Senator Schumer has outlined what he sees as the baseline of immigration reform. Spencer Hsu, of Washington Post reports that Schumer sees immigration reform:

requiring that an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants register with the government and “submit to a rigorous process to convert to legal status” or face immediate deportation. [The][l]egislation must also create mechanisms to attract high-skilled immigrants, control the flow of low-skilled immigrants and protect native-born workers.

Senator Schumer is calling for a National ID card (something to displease everyone):

Schumer’s proposal for a national “biometric” identification system to verify work documents — based on fingerprints, iris scans or digital photographs –stems from a key weakness of past immigration overhaul efforts . . . .

and omits a temporary worker visa program. Both of these elements will be key discussion points for the overall package of immigration reform that kicks officially tomorrow with a meeting at the White House between President Obama and key Senators and Congressman.

What does Senator Schumer’s position statement, and the meeting tomorrow at the White House mean? First, and most importantly, it means the debate has begun. There is no going back now without loosing face, prestige, and likely more importantly, the support of millions of Latinos.

Second, it means we have a lot of work to do. We do not agree with all these positions, there is more to be done. We have to help shape this package and beat back some of the awful and hateful baggage that anti-immigrationists will try to add to it. We have to call, write, visit, cajole, argue, blog, twitter, march, protest and demand proper immigration reforms. We cannot allow what happened in the summer of 2007 (a closed door, back room deal with no negotiation from people who actually knew and understood the law). Now is the time to get the emails out and the fax machines moving. We will be sending out alerts to notify folks about what they can do to effectuate change.

Finally, Senator Schumer’s comments today mark the official transition from Senator Kennedy to Senator Schumer as the water carrier on immigration reform. While we may not agreed with Senator Schumer on all aspects of his ideas for immigration reform, it is important to thank him for having the political courage to move this debate forward. Senator Schumer, Thank You! Hopefully, other Senators will get on this train and help drive it forward to a successful CIR Bill we can all support.

Another Month, And No Movement Toward Reform.

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

As many regular readers of this blog know, I am impressed by the amazing work of Vivek Wadhwa, research associate at Harvard, and an entrepreneur in residence at Duke. This week his most recently published article, The University Of Competition, in Outlook India, points out the obvious–”with its flawed immigration policies, the U.S. has exported part of its economic stimulus and is providing a windfall of premium talent to these countries (India and China).”

Vivek also appeared in a NPR’s Marketplace segment on how sophisticated engineering jobs are disappearing from the U.S. and moving to India. The report by Janet Babin starts with an unemployed Silicon Valley engineer and ends with Wim Elfrink – Cisco’s Chief Globalization Officer who is based in Bangalore. In that piece, Vivek discusses how the world has changed and how companies now need to be near growth markets.

This pieces and other recent pieces show that plodding ideas about commissions and study groups to recommend visa numbers are relics of a past age. The question is, will Congress act quickly enough on immigration reform to actually make a difference in helping our economy recover. Every immigration lawyer knows these simple truths–lazy people do not walk across the desert. And, its corollary–the Hope that is American attracts those willing to work hard to succeed. Well, the former principle is still true, at least for now. The latter is giving way to hopelessness–backlogged visa numbers (”encased in amber”), and a growing and vibrant economy in China and India. The failure to act quickly is going to cost America in the long run. Let’s pray someone in the White House and on Capitol starts this immigration reform discussion moving before it is too late.

Why Don’t You Come Legally–The Immigrant Visa Disaster

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Okay, we all know there are no visas available until October 1, 2009 for any third preference employments immigrant. It stinks. It makes no sense in how we grow the economy and bring in “legal” workers. And, we know there is a 5-9 year wait in this category.

We know that there are between 8-50 year waits for the assortment of family based immigrant visas (do the math for Mexican Brothers and Sisters–its not pretty). But we resign ourselves to fixing this disastrous, undocumented immigration causing problem as part of CIR.

But, in today’s Visa Bulletin we get this terrific surprise. India EB-2 has retrogressed to January 2000!

What the Heck? You mean if I am from India, and I have an ADVANCED DEGREE, and my work is in the NATIONAL INTEREST, that I have to wait 9 YEARS before I can even apply for permanent residence? No wonder these advanced degree, economy growing, job creating immigrants are deciding to go home. Vivek Wadwha, whom AILA is honoring with its Media Leadership Award at our Annual Conference, published an excellent study on the Brain Drain FROM the U.S. Foreign students who study and graduate from here with Master’s Degree and Ph.Ds are going back home to India. This is not good for America. This is not good for job creation.  This is not good for our economy.