Miguel Blas-Matus' story is another example of the tenacity of many out of status immigrants in the US. He entered the US legally from his native Mexico with his US citizen wife, but due to what seems to be malpractice but an incompetent immigration lawyer (I wish I could say this was more rare than it actually is), he fell out of status. For many years, the former doctor from Mexico labored in the fields of apple farms in the Northwest US. He later was able to become an nursing assistant, but when his father in Mexico became gravely ill, he returned to his home and was barred from reentering legally. He crossed back in to the US illegally and was apprehended. While in detention, his father died.
Blas-Matus was deported and subjected to a ten year bar on reentering. His wife worked diligently on rectifying the situation and in 2003 he was able to re-enter the US. And seven years later he has entered a physician assistant program and is now a US citizen.
Thanks to Dan Kowalski for this great suggestion.
March 30, 2009
Guatemalan-born David Campos has overcome his status as an illegally present immigrant kid in the US to become a legislative leader in San Francisco. Campos earned scholarships to college and law school and became a prominent civil rights lawyer in the Bay Area. He now serves on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors representing the famous Mission District. He previously served as general counsel to the San Francisco Unified Schools District and as Police Commissioner.
David's another great example of the good we will unleash if we pass the DREAM Act.
This is getting interesting. Remember my post from a few weeks ago about a work site raid in Washington state that apparently was conducted by ICE in direct opposition to the wishes of Secretary Napolitano. Now it appears that some at ICE are reveling in taking on the boss of the agency and, by extension, the new President.
Conservative bloggers have leaked the following email from the ICE special agent in charge in Seattle to fellow agents that openly defies the White House's wishes as just politics and circulates a Republican press release to justify the agency's actions. Remember that this is an official ICE communication and not just the personal thoughts of an employee of the agency.
From: Winchell, Leigh H
Copy to: Rutt, Robert P; Kibble, Kumar C (DHS); Weber, Robert
Sent: Thu Feb 26 10:00:04 2009
Subject: FW: Napolitano's Investigation of Investigators is Beyond Backwards
To all SAC [DS: Special Agent in Charge Office]
Seattle employees,By now you have all experienced or heard of the issues that have been made out of some very fine work by our Blaine and Seattle offices when conducting the worksite case in Bellingham
two days ago. I want to tell you all how very proud I am of the manner in which you operated during this enforcement action. You did nothing wrong and you did everything right. From ASAC to agent, all the bases were covered, and covered very well. I cannot control the politics that take place with these types of situations, but I can remind you that you are great servants of this country and this agency. I am proud to be your SAC and I know that this distraction will not keep you from fulfilling your wide ranging duties as ICE agents. I also know that you have the support and gratitude of our leadership in ICE HQ.
I thought you would like to see this press release from the House Judiciary Committee.
The press release referred to by Agent Winchell can be found here.
Common sense (and decency) from our friends Down Under. I hope immigration reform advocates on the Hill don't forget to deal with this important issue when they craft legislation this year.
March 27, 2009
This is great news for those waiting forever on I-360 applications. A US District Court in Seattle has ruled that USCIS must accept adjustment applications concurrently with I-360 religious worker green card applications, something allowed for all other employment-based green card cases (except those in backlogged categories). I've had cases over the years where ministers, priests and rabbis were faced with falling out of legal status because the five year limit on their R-1 visas came and USCIS was still sitting on an I-360 petition. It is important to note that this is just a district court judge and is not binding on the rest of the country. But it will hopefully give others around the US reason to challenge USCIS on the same grounds. The Associated Press has also written about the case.Ruiz-Diaz-v-US-3-09
This guy's got gumption. Pavel Goberman is a 71 year old Russian immigrant who came to the US in 1980 and has become a fitness consultant in Oregon. He's running for US Senate against Democratic incumbent Ron Wyden and while his odds of winning are slim, his enthusiasm will no doubt make the race more interesting. He's running on a platform of getting the nation in shape.
A reliable source has informed immigration lawyers in the mid-southern United States to be prepared for a major work site raid in or near Canton, Mississippi. While the White House has not formally stated it has suspended raids while it is reviewing its enforcement policy (something that many leaders in Congress have urged), such a moratorium is believed to be in operation right now. Given the enormous controversy surrounding a recent work site raid that happened in Washington state apparently without the knowledge of Secretary Napolitano, I was very surprised to hear that another major raid may be about to occur. I suggested after the Washington raid that this might be an effort to deliberately embarrass the President and a similar raid would likely be part of a similar effort. I would urge the Administration to publicly state that raids are on hold and that instead enforcement efforts are focused on administrative tactics (such as I-9 audits).
The LA Times has a very interesting article talking about potential plans for comprehensive immigration reform that involve a major - and risky - change in strategy. According to the report, the CIR bill would look very similar to prior years, but in order to appease labor unions, a new independent commission would be created to assess employment-based visa numbers. According to the LA Times
And I can understand why pro-business advocates in Congress would be concerned. I'm also worried about labor unions having the final say in determining visa numbers since - sorry to say it - they have a tendency to act like the OPEC cartel when it comes to allowing employers access to needed workers. In the nursing context, a few labor organizations have done everything possible to preserve a severe nursing shortage - a shortage that endangers patients but has the happy effect of dramatically driving up wages. I'm happy when labor unions work to protect working conditions for exploited immigrant workers. But they should not be permitted to dictate populist protectionist policies that damage our economy.
On the other hand, Congress has done a dreadful job determining appropriate visa numbers. In the past, they cut numbers as we were coming out of a recession and raised them when a boom was ending. And we're now at a number for H-1Bs and skilled/professional worker green cards that was set in 1990 even though our economy is much larger. The result has been employers voting with their feet and outsourcing jobs to foreign countries, taking employment opportunities for Americans away as well. The status quo clearly isn't working either.
We also have international treaty obligations that bar us from imposing protectionist measures that would result in fewer visa numbers so I suspect that there would be constraints on anything too draconian being imposed by a commission. We already have seen this reality serve as a useful firewall during recent attempts to bar TARP-recipient banks from having access to H-1B workers. Congress backed down on a plan to bar such employers from using the visas since it would have likely violated our obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services.
I suspect the devil is in the details including:
- how will commission members be appointed
- how long will terms be and what power will a President have to replace someone
- are specific "slots" reserved for labor interests, business interests, etc.
- will the commission merely make recommendations or will they have actual authority to set numbers and visa rules
March 26, 2009
Leaders in Congress today re-introduced the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act. The bill would allow immigrant students raised in the US and who are graduates of US high schools to attend college or join the military and embark on a path to citizenship.
The bill's lead sponsors in the Senate are Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN). In the House, the lead sponsors are Howard Berman (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL).
Immigration advocacy organization America's Voice described the importance of the bill:
An estimated 65,000 undocumented young people who have spent their childhoods in America would be impacted by this important piece of legislation. An effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform would also include the DREAM Act.
“Their stories are heartbreaking but their spirit and resilience is nothing short of amazing,” Sharry continued. “For years, these young people, many working in the ‘United we Dream’ coalition, have courageously stood up and organized to change an unjust law. Now, Senator Durbin, Rep. Berman and the other cosponsors are also showing courage. Today’s introduction of the DREAM Act is a testament to their hard work and should serve as an inspiration to all of us as we work together to fix our broken immigration system.”
The Secretary of State told an audience on her Mexico trip that the Administration will move on the issue this year. That's encouraging, though people need to remember that President Bush made the same promise to Mexico.
March 25, 2009
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