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Updates on Immigration: PERM Stats, New Mexico Driver's Licenses, and USCIS Notice Of Intent

by Alan Lee

The Department of Labor released statistics for PERM labor certifications for the first quarter of FY 2012 (10/1/11-12/31/11) showing that it had received 13,200 cases and processed 12,400. It certified 9500, denied 2400, and 500 were withdrawn. The denial rate was slightly above 20% of the cases that were adjudicated. Cases are taking approximately three months to be examined; audited cases approximately eight months to be decided; and standard appeals approximately 18 months. Government error appeals are current.

Pro-immigrant advocates in New Mexico are girding for another fight as Governor Susana Martinez is preparing to again push for a repeal of the state law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses. Currently New Mexico and Washington are the only states to allow drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. State Representative Andy Nunez is preparing to bring up the legislation in this next week. The measure was previously defeated in the state legislature.

The Obama Administration's promise in the summer to review all 300,000 cases in the national backlog of cases in proceedings under prosecutorial discretion standards appears to be encountering resistance and a changed vision. Although prosecutors and supervisors of U.S.I.C.E. have received training, the National ICE Council, the union for the agency's 7000 field officers, has not allowed its members to participate in the training. It further appears that ICE policy for cases in the court is currently not to agree to terminate, but to administratively close cases for which it is exercising prosecutorial discretion - which means that the cases can be recalled to court when circumstances change and the aliens are not allowed employment authorization in the interim. Thus they could be in a limbo state with no work authorization for years. The original vision for relief was that the cases would be terminated and the aliens eligible for employment authorization.

At the U.S.C.I.S. stakeholder meeting of January 10, 2012, concerning the ability of aliens who sneaked into the country and are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to file I-601 waivers in the U.S. and have them adjudicated prior to deciding to interview overseas for their green cards, many relevant questions were asked as the agency intends to assess what should be placed in a final rule. U.S.C.I.S. had issued a notice of intent to publish a rule in the Federal Register on January 6, 2012. Some answers were that the agency plans to publish a notice of proposed rule in the springtime; that the waivers will probably be adjudicated at the Service Centers without interview and that U.S.C.I.S. was presently looking at the sister model with two service centers involved. A concern was also expressed that persons with final orders of removal who were otherwise qualified should also be eligible under this program, but was left unanswered.

This article 2012 Alan Lee, Esq.

About The Author

Alan Lee is a 30+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City holding an AV preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and registered in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He was also recently named to the New York Super Lawyers list. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for Interpreter Releases, Immigration Daily, and the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Bush Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

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