Apparently, snooping through the passport files of celebrities is all the rage for some voyeuristic US State Department officials. Fortunately, I'm just a boring immigration lawyer about which no tabloid will give a hoot. Are we about to hear that some entrepreneurial DOS official is selling the information to the National Enquirer?
Well, here are a lot of ideas anyway. The Ombudsman's office has prepared its annual report which includes a number of recommendations on how USCIS can better do its job. The report also lays out in great detail some of USCIS' biggest problem areas including poorly functioning IT and terrible backlogs. You can download the report here.
The New York Times has a front-page story by their immigration reporter Julia Preston that is well worth the read. Ms. Preston is one of a small number of reporters that covers immigration on a full-time basis and it really shows in the depth of her reporting.
The story is the first I've seen to cover a new phenomenon in immigration politics. In states across the country, employers fed up with being targeted for enforcement without simultaneously Congress taking steps to create necessary legal avenues to sponsor guest workers. For those of you who buy the Lou Dobbs canard that we have plenty of guest worker visas, the only guest worker program available for those workers in non-professional positions is the H-2B program with a cap of 66,000 visas per year. With millions and millions of illegal workers in the US, the H-2B program is really like having no program at all.
The groups working on these issues are providing an important reminder that politicians who claim to be pro-business but who have not worked to provide guest worker programs to America's businsesses are ANTI-BUSINESS. Any politician who touts their pro-business voting record but who has voted against legal work visa programs is simply being disingenous and cannot honestly claim to care about the needs of America's employers. They are every bit as anti-business as the politicians they derail for being for big government.
I'm also glad to see Tamar Jacoby of ImmigrationWorksUSA quoted. She's doing remarkable work trying to facilitate the establishment of state business immigration coalitions and coordinating their efforts. Here's a graphic from the story on legislation around the country. I'm proud to say I've helped ImmigrationWorksUSA on compiling some of the data. You can click on the picture for a better view.
July 07, 2008
Australian-born golfer Greg Norman spent a good portion of the 1980s and 1990s as the world's number one golfer. The 53 year old Florida resident made news this week when he married another sports legend - tennis great Chris Evert.
Norman's stellar career includes nine wins at the Master's, the US Open, the PGA Championship and the British Open.
Congrats on the nuptials, Greg!
July 08, 2008
The Department of Labor's attacks by press release continue today.
The Fragomen law firm was joined today by two other high profile players in the immigration bar in facing the wrath of the DOL. Pittsburgh-based Cohen and Grigsby will have all of their labor certification cases run through an arduous supervised recruitment process. The DOL audited the firm's cases after a seminar the firm posted on YouTube was circulated around the country. The firm received considerable criticism because of claims made that the firm was minimizing the obligation to fairly consider US workers in the course of the labor certification process.
The highly reputable immigration software vendor LawLogix has been debarred from filing PERM cases for a three year period. The firm is being punished for improperly creating PERM accounts that were used for testing the software. According to the DOL:
LawLogix submitted more than 100 applications using the permanent program's online filing system in the last year, apparently for the sole purpose of testing the parameters of the department's electronic processing system.
It is very, very important for customers of LawLogix to understand that the debarment of LawLogix ONLY applies to PERM applications that the company would be filing on behalf of its own employees. This announcement has no bearing on applications filed by companies who are LawLogix's customers.
I'm particularly concerned about the impact the press release will have on LawLogix, a company that provides a very good product and which has never been accused of any sort of wrongdoing. Today's press release could lead to very unfair conclusions by LawLogix customers and potential customers. I am NOT a customer of the firm and have no financial or other interest in the company, but I have met some of the people at the company and I found them to be good people simply trying to provide a quality product and service their very demanding clients. I have never heard anyone ever criticize the company's ethics.
What is galling about this is not so much that the Labor Department is targeting the bar and its vendors (I am not in a position to opine, for example, on what the DOL found in the audit of the Cohen and Grigsby clients), but how DOL has chosen to pursue its actions. Issuing press releases can - has - caused tremendous damage to the reputation of the subjects of those press releases. The targeted companies have not received due process and are immediately tainted in the eyes of their clients and customers as well as the wider public.
While presumably the DOL is interested in creating a deterrent effect, it is completely unfair to use a press release as the means of getting a message across when the subject of the press release has not had a sufficient opportunity to defend itself and prove it is innocent of the accusations in the press release. Sure LawLogix can appeal the debarment. But if it is successful, will that undue the damage they've suffered? There's a fair way and an unfair way for the DOL to do its job and issuing press releases attacking law firms and employers that have not had the reasonable opportunity to defend themselves first is most definitely not the fair way.
CQ Politics has an interesting article that notes that some experts believe John McCain's past immigration positions are helping him hold some of the Hispanic vote that President Bush won in the past two presidential elections. The question is whether he can retain that support as the Obama campaign works to redefine McCain in the eyes of Hispanic voters. The Obama folks will have a lot to work with given McCain's very public backing off of the immigration reform bill he once sponsored. And they will have a massive spending advantage to get that message out. With McCain having a fraction of the money Obama is expected to have available, will he choose to spend it trying to match the efforts of the Obama campaign in the Hispanic community or will he focus on other communities? That remain to be seen.
Greg Siskind 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 firstname.lastname@example.org