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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Bloggings: May 25, 2007

by Greg Siskind, Esq.

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Greg Siskind's blog.

May 23, 2007

May 23, 2007

BINGAMAN AMENDMENT PASSES; GUEST WORKER PROGRAM NUMBERS SLASHED

The number of Y visas will be limited to 200,000 per year and will not grow based on demand. So we know the business community will be begging for more in future years and illegal immigration will be a problem again in the future. Our wise Congress.....

LEVIN-OBAMA AMENDMENT WOULD ADDRESS FBI BACKGROUND CHECK DELAYS

Senators Levin (D-MI) and Obama (D-IL) are introducing an amendment that will do the following:

  1. Require an initial diagnostic report on the name check program and an annual report with status updates.
  2. Require the FBI to implement a plan to ensure that, within 2 years, all name checks can be completed within 180 days.
  3. Establish an Office of the Public Advocate for Immigration Clearances within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. The advocates would participate in the interagency task force established in Section 216(a) of the negotiated language.

AKAKA AMENDMENT WOULD BENEFIT CHILDREN OF FILIPINO WWII VETS

Senator Akaka (D-HI) is introducing an amendment to the Senate bill that would exempt from green card caps children of certain Filipino World War II veterans. Currently, Filipino children of US citizens can wait years and sponsoring veterans are in their 80s and 90s.

KERRY TO INTRODUCE AMENDMENT ON RULES FOR WORKSITE RAIDS

In light of the recent controversy surrounding a massive ICE raid in Bedford, Massachusetts that separated dozens of children from the parents as well as husbands and wives, John Kerry (D-MA) is introducing an amendment that would do the following:

o Require ICE to afford access to state social service agencies to screen and interview detainees.  A majority of the problems in these raids arose from the fact that the people were too scared or intimidated to provide information to ICE agents.  Social service agencies are also better equipped to handle child and family needs.

o ICE must also give sufficient notice to these state agencies so they can arrange for representatives who speak the detainees’ first language fluently and for any other services that may be needed. 

o To the extent that space is available aliens that are being detained should be to be placed in detention within the jurisdiction of the local ICE field office.  Previously detainees, many of them mothers, have been shipped off to facilities hundreds of miles away from their families to await a determination of their status.   

o If it is determined that an alien has humanitarian grounds for release including but not limited to those with medical conditions that require special attention, pregnant women, nursing mothers, parents who are the sole caretakers of their minor children or elderly relatives, parents who function as the primary contact between the family and those outside the home due to language barriers, parents who are needed to support their spouses in caring for sick or special needs children, parents whose spouses are ill or otherwise unable to be sole caretaker, and minors, within 72 hours of their apprehension, if they are not subject to mandatory detention, they shall be released on their own recognizance, on minimum bond or placed in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP).  This gives ICE the ability to track the alien but also allows families to be reunited and aliens to receive medical and social services. 

o ICE must also provide a toll free number for families to use after a raid, to report their relationship to a detainee or for more information about the status of their loved one.

o In cases of raids with the apprehension of 50 or more aliens ICE must also allow the aliens access to legal orientation presentations provided by independent, non-governmental agencies through the Legal Orientation program.  This program cuts down on confusion and allows the detainees to fully appreciate their rights.

MCCASKILL TO INTRODUCE AMENDMENT TO TOUGHEN PENALTIES ON EMPLOYERS

Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is introducing an amendment to the Senate bill that would toughen provisions Title III regarding bans on federal contracts, grants or cooperative agreements for employer who are repeat violators of rules barring the hiring of illegal immigrants. Under the bill currently being debated, employers are subject to "up to" a two-year ban and the Administraor of General Services to waive it.

The McCaskill amendment would ban repeat violators for five years.

May 22, 2007

MENENDEZ AND OBAMA TO INTRODUCE AMENDMENTS ON POINT SYSTEM PROPOSAL

Senator Obama (D-IL) is to seek a sunset provision that will force Congress to revisit the wisdom of the point system in five years and decide to retain it or return to the family and employment immigration system we have now.

Senator Menendez (D-NJ) will seek an amendment to give more weight to family relationships in the point system proposal. Senator Menendez's office released the following description of the language:

Senators Menendez and Obama will be offering an amendment to modify the new point system in the immigration bill to take into account family as part of this new experiment in social engineering.

Rio GrandeCurrently, the substitute amendment would not give points for extended family connections unless a minimum of 55 points is met in the other categories (such as employment, education, English and civics), awards various family categories with different point levels, and only rewards people who played by the rules and filed their green card application on or after May 2005 with 2 points. So much for family values not stopping at the Rio Grande.

The Menendez and Obama amendment would remove the arbitrary minimum threshold, treat each category the same by awarding 10 points, and increases the “on or after May 2005” points to 5. This would bring the Maximum Points possible for the Extended Family category to 15.

LIEBERMAN AMENDMENT WOULD REFORM ASYLUM PROCESS

Senator Lieberman plans on introducing the Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act as an amendment to the Senate immigration bill currently being debated on the Senate floor. The amendment would do the following:

  • Recording interviews ensures persecuted aliens aren’t turned back
  • Mandating hearings on release determinations prevents unjust detentions
  • Legal Orientation Programs improve aliens’ understanding and reduces costs
  • New standards would address poor conditions at detention facilities 
  • An Office of Detention Oversight will facilitate meaningful supervision 
  • Increased use of alternatives to prisons and jails offers humane options

A summary of the bill can be found here - Download secure_and_safe_detention_and_asylum.doc

 

FEINSTEIN TO INTRODUCE UNACCOMPANIED MINORS AMENDMENT

Senator Feinstein (D-CA) has been promoting legislation to offer special protections to unaccompanied children who are in immigration proceedings in the US. The bill has passed the Senate twice before so perhaps this is the year the bill finally becomes a law. According to Feinstein's folks:

Enactment of S. 844 would ensure that these children are treated humanely while in federal custody, provide for a more orderly and expeditious repatriation of children to their country of nationality or habitual residence when no relief is available and their repatriation is appropriate, and help those who are entitled to relief obtain such relief. In addition, S. 844 would facilitate legal representation of such children in their immigration proceedings, at no expense to the government, thereby helping expedite the resolution of their immigration status. The measure also would give ORR the discretion to appoint child advocates for children to ensure that their interests are properly considered as they navigate our country’s complex immigration system and make modest, yet important, reforms in the Special Immigrant Juvenile provisions of the law.

Here is the text - Download unaccompanied_minors_amdt_to_cir.PDF

MENENDEZ-OBAMA AMENDMENT WOULD INCLUDE COVER MORE FAMILY GREEN CARD APPLICANTS

One of the toughest criticisms of the Senate bill is that family green card applicants who filed cases after May 1, 2005 in one of the four eliminated family categories will see their cases denied. Not only is it fundamentally unfair to have accepted applications and given people hope that they would eventually be reunited with family members if they were only patient, but the Senate bill doesn't even give people the courtesy of a refund of their filing fees (and forget about the lawyer fees). More than 800,000 people fit in this group.

Senators Obama (D-IL) and Menendez (D-NJ) will offer an amendment that will move that date up to January 1, 2007, the same date as the cutoff for the legalization program. 110,000 green cards will be added a year to ensure that processing these additional applicants won't delay the green card phase of the legalization program beyond the targeted eight years.

Here is a copy of the one pager describing the amendment. Download 052107May1CutoffAmendOnePager.doc

COMPROMISE HOLDS ON FIRST TEST

One of the pillars of the current immigration proposal is a guest worker program that will provide a legal way for employers to hire the workers they need in the future and not be forced to hire illegal immigrants in order to continue operating. For employers facing worker shortages who do not want to violate the law, the choice may come down to being trounced by foreign competitors, dramatically raise prices to cover the costs needed to entice workers from other employers, or simply closing shop and moving operations to an overseas location where workers are more readily available.

The first amendment to come up for a vote today on the Senate immigration bill would have eliminated the guest worker program from the bill. The Dorgan Amendment went down in defeat, but not without getting the votes of 31 Senators, most of whom were Democrats responding to pressure from labor unions who do not like the fact that guest workers must go home after two years and have no path to citizenship. The fear is that despite strict recruiting and wage requirements and a bar on guest workers in locations with higher than a 7% unemployment rate, these guest workers will drive down wages and steal jobs

But don't expect the same result tomorrow when a vote comes up on the Bingaman Amendment.  That is a more moderate proposal that would cut the size of the guest worker program from 400,000 workers per year to 200,000 and remove the provision that would allow that number to grown. Senator Bingaman (D-NM) and his co-sponsor Diane Feinstein (D-CA) did not vote with Dorgan today on his amendment, but it is likely that all of the 31 Senators who voted yes on today's amendment will support their amendment tomorrow. The question is whether the sponsors can pick up an additional 17 votes.

Here is the text of the amendment - Download bingamanfeinstein_cap_amend_52107.pdf

 

AMENDMENTS COMING UP

AMENDMENTS COMING UP

Still lots of yada-yada with speechifying by various Senators. But real amendments are coming up. First will be a challenge to the Y visa. Senator Dorgan (D-ND) will seek to eliminate the whole guest worker program. Shortly after that, Senator Bingaman (D-NM) will seek to cut the guest worker program down to 200,000 from the 400,000 number under the current bill. I've yet to see the language of either amendment, but am working on it.

May 21, 2007

NEWSFLASH: DOBBS IS A BULLING BLOWHARD

I know, this is shocking stuff. As a news junkie, one of my favorite blogs is

TVNewser, which probably provides better coverage of what goes on behind the scenes in television journalism than any other source on the net. They dish the dirt on everyone in television news including my fave Lou Dobbs.

Today they had this great post discussing how awkward it is for legitimate CNN news correspondents to appear on Dobbs' show to discuss the news. This post discusses how yesterday Andrea Koppel was dumbfounded at a ridiculous editorialized question Dobbs asked her. Legitimate journalists are not supposed to tell their opinions and Dobbs seems to assume that the reporters agree with his extreme views. The fact that CNN lets him get away with this night after night says a lot about how low the standards are on what used to be a premiere news organization.

PODCAST - SUMMARY OF THE SENATE IMMIGRATION BILL

The Senate has begun debate on the big immigration bill. I've recorded my audio summary of the bill.


MCCAIN FIRES AT ROMNEY'S IMMIGRATION VIEWS

Whether you love or hate John McCain, you probably agree that the man is colorful. Over the weekend he allegedly blew up at fellow Senator John Cornyn of Texas used the "f" word to tell him what he thought of Cornyn's bailing on the immigration bill. Today, Fox News is reporting that McCain poked fun of anti-immigrant Romney's checkered history when it comes to hiring illegal aliens. Read and enjoy.

NO FILIBUSTER; DEBATE EXTENDED FOR A WEEK

The Senate has decided to allow debate to continue on the immigration bill. The vote was 69-23 with eight not voting. The vote would have been more lopsided if the five presidential candidates from the Senate - Biden, Clinton, Dodd, McCain and Obama were in attendance. Presumably, Senators Kerry and Nelson of Florida would have voted with the Democrats as well.

Senator Reid also announced he would allow for a second week of debate which will allow time for votes on a number of new amendments.

There were a few surprises. Ben Nelson of Nebraska spoke against the bill on the floor early on and then voted with the majority. Senator Cornyn (R-TX), the ranking member on the Senate Immigration Committee and a Bush loyalist, bolted from his leader despite earlier indications he would support a deal.
Only four Democrats voted in the minority - Baucas and Tester of Montana, Dorgan of North Dakota and  Byrd of West Virginia. Senator Sanders, the Vermont Indpendent who caucuses with the Democrats, also voted in the minority. Numerous Republicans voted with the majority including several who voted against S.2611 last year.

Finally, Senator Kennedy noted that  the first two amendments up tomorrow will relate to the guest worker program outlined in Title IV of the bill. Senator Dorgan of North Dakota will propose an amendment that would largely scrap the program and Senator Bingaman (D-NM) will propose an amendment to cut the 400,000 quota on guest workers in half.

TEPID OPENING REMARKS BY LEAHY

He is spending his time expresses his worries and indicated that he had not decided how to vote. The focus is on changing the bill to make it "worthy of the Senate." It sounds like unless some changes take place, some key Democrats may walk.

MY SECTION BY SECTION SUMMARY OF THE SENATE BILL

Download ssb_section_by_section_summary.pdf

Phwehh!! I've been working on this since Friday night and now have read the Senate bill front to back and compared it to S.2611 passed by the Senate last year and also noted some of the differences with the House's STRIVE Act. I don't promise perfection here since speed was my main goal, but I think it's pretty good. If I made errors, please be kind and send me an email at gsiskind@visalaw.com.

SALAZAR KICKS OFF PRO-CIR SIDE

The Colorado Democrat was one of the key negotiators with Kennedy.

NELSON IS FIRST DEMOCRAT (AND NON-SOUTHERNER) TO SPEAK AGAINST

Nebraska's conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson is on the floor opposing. But note that he voted no on S.2611, one of a handful of Democrats to vote with the minority on that bill.

TALK TO CANADIAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS

Sessions is going on and on about how wonderful Canada is. Funny, our firm has an affiliate office in Canada and I hear all the time about how not so wonderful Canada's immigration system is. The cab driver with a Ph.D. is now a stereotype up there where many people with no job offers are able to get in to the country because they can meet the points. We need a point system to be available for some folks, but taking the employer out of the process is a huge mistake for the US. Set up a pilot points program and see how it works before scrapping our whole system.

CORKER TO VOTE NO

This is disappointing.

I visited his office in March and his staff indicated they were seriously thinking about voting with the President. Corker especially should be sympathetic since he has his own checkered history of employing illegal immigrants. I know because I've reviewed the INS files from the raid on his construction company at a site in Memphis about 20 years ago. No need to comment further on this issue.

HEY, NOW MY WHITE MALE SOUTHERN SENATOR IS UP

It's Bob Corker of Tennessee and that's four in a row.

I have to give Corker credit, however, since he's simply asking for more time to debate the measure. That's probably fair enough and a lot of the pro-immigration folks feel the same way.

But has Senator Sessions found anyone from north of the Mason-Dixon line to support his side?

ANOTHER WHITE SOUTHERN MALE SENATOR ATTACKS THE BILL

I'm just saying... David Vitter of Louisiana is now attacking the bill. It might look better if the anti-immigrants would have found someone who at least would break the stereotype of the opponents of this legislation.

SESSIONS AND BUNNING COME OUT OF THE POST BASHING THE BILL

No surprise here. These are two hard core anti-immigrant  Republican Senators from Kentucky and Alabama. There remarks are largely a rehash of last year. Sessions went on and on and on for over an hour. Hope Bunning doesn't waste so much floor time.

LIVE BLOGGING THE SENATE DEBATE

I'll be watching the Senate debate this week and trying as much as possible to update readers as votes occur and news break.

The first news item is that the debate has started on the floor and Senator Reid noted that Senator Bingaman will introduce an amendment today to halve the Y-1 guestworker program from 400,000 to 200,000.

May 18, 2007

TO JAIL A PRIEST

One of my favorite television programs is ABC's Boston Legal. This week, inspired by an actual drama going on right now in Chicago, the central case involved a priest on trial for harboring an illegal alien. The show used the case to highlight the arguments for and against legalizing the nation's 12 million illegal aliens. The show did present both sides, but it clearly sympathized with the plight of the undocumented. I won't give away the ending, but the show did more to raise awareness on this issue than most of the numerous news shows are right now. Worth downloading on iTunes if you missed the episode.

 


About The Author

Greg Siskind, Esq. is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at gsiskind@visalaw.com.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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