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Until I looked at the new DS-5513 Biographical Questionnaire for A US Passport in the February 24th issue of Federal Register, I did not fully comprehend that extent to which the State Department would go to prevent adopted children from travelling internationally. Now I know.
If you think I protest too much, click on the links above and come to your own conclusion. Is there any way for an adopted child to know if his birth mother received pre- or post-natal medical care? Would an adopted daughter know how her birth mother came to the United States? How many adults who were adopted as infants could describe the circumstances of their birth? Maybe they could recite the dates of medical appointments for a woman they have never met and probably could not contact? Well, if they can climb into the family attic and unearth their baptismal or circumcision records, all is not lost.
All this and more may be required by your friendly Passport Agency . It won't take long, though; maybe 45 minutes! Got a spare lunch hour? Of course, things might change since comments in opposition to this identity invasion can be submitted for 60 days. Why the reason for all these questions that no adopted and few biological children can answer? Here's the stated rationale:
"The primary purpose for soliciting this information is to establish citizenship, identity, and eligibility for a U.S. Passport Book or Passport Card," says the notice. "The information may also be used in connection with issuing other travel documents or evidence of citizenship and in furtherance of the Secretary's responsibility for the protection of U.S. nationals abroad."
Now before you write your angry letter or indignant email, consider that the State Department is proposing that the questionnaire only be required of those applicants who "submit citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity." Conservative estimates are that that only about 74,000 persons per year will need to tear out their hair when trying to complete this form. That's about 0.5% of passport applicants
Hopefully, the incandescent wrath of an aroused populace, which, as we all know has nothing else to worry about, will cause an astonished State Department to think twice. If not, I hear that the Grand Canyon looks beautiful this time of year. For those who say that you cannot be too careful in these scoundrel times when the need to fight terror is with us late and soon, I close with words worth remembering from someone who knew how to react amid revolutionary fervor:" They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, " Benjamin Franklin reminds us, " deserve neither liberty nor safety."
INDIA EB-2 SHOULD LEAP FORWARD
"The Department of State has told AILA that because of decreasing demand for EB-1 visa numbers, the EB-2 category will be given at least 12,000 additional visa numbers. The 12,000 numbers will largely be given to Indian EB-2 applicants. EB-2 Chinese natives may also be positively impacted by this news.
The May 2011 Visa Bulletin, which should be released in mid-April 2011, should reflect this news."
Immigration guru Chris Musillo posted this news flash on ILW. What better place for it!
All those with approved I-140s but no current priority date should take out their old files and dust them off because a race to the Texas and Nebraska Courthouse will likely soon begin. Expect the starter's gun to sound on May 1.
EB-2 India is now choking dust back to May 8, 2006 and has not been showing signs of life lately as we all know. Although H-1B workers caught in this dead zone are able to get annual H1B extensions, or, better yet, 3 year extensions if they have approved I-140s, the prospect of being able to move to the head of the line and apply for the green card has become a mirage, a shimmering illusion off in the distance, perhaps even a cruel joke on all those who wait for Godot.
There is nothing in the INA or 8 CFR that would prevent the USCIS from accepting the I-485 as a provisional submission following approval of an I-140 or I-130 in the absence of a current priority date as Cyrus Mehta and I have previously argued in our essay appropriately entitled " The Tyranny of Priority Dates". In effect, this is a logical extension of pre-adjudication for adjustment of status cases now being done. Drawing the analogy from patent law which allows a provisional patent to be submitted and allows one year for perfection of same, the USCIS could, if wanted to, adopt the same approach to remedy the implosion of our immigration preference system. Allow provisional submission of an adjustment following I-140 or I-130 approval, along with companion applications for advance parole and EAD, but do not allow final approval unless and until the priority date becomes current. Only then does the I-485 actually get filed. Right now, without Congress creating a single new visa or touching the quotas in any way, the priority date problem can be solved. President Obama has the discretion if there is the vision and political will to use it. http://www.ilw.com/articles/2010,1220-mehta.shtm
Till then, take heart in small victories and the anticipated great leap foward of EB-2 India in May is certainly one of those. What better way to usher in the springtime!
Interesting tid bit in today's newspaper of record that fans of the Visa Waiver program would be well to note. Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden join in supporting the idea of making Russia the latest member of the visa waive club. Whether this is a good idea or a bad one, Putin's interest in advancing it, and Biden's in promptly accepting it, testify to Russia's return as a great power and, equally importantly, to its status as the world's leading oil producing nation. Whether it is getting Uncle Vladimir to agree to a No Fly zone in Libya or making up the short fall in oil production resulting from the disruptions incident to the Arab awakening, America is clearly looking for way to be nice to the Russians. The Obama Administration is to be commended for realizing that US immigration is an invaluable tool to advance our foreign policy and economic objectives. Coming to the USA is something that lots of folks want to do. Visas are too important to give away. Let's get something for them!
We tend to forget it now, and so do they, but the Republican Party was born in protest. The political expression of the Northern revulsion against the Dred Scott decision, the GOP embodied an aggressive nationalism that helped to usher America into the modern era. For some time now, there has been a civil war within the GOP over immigration between those who viewed immigrants as an asset to be maximized versus those who saw it as a problem to be controlled. There are historical antecents for both camps. The pro-side can look back to Theodore Roosevelt, the first modern Republican president who was an outspoken advocate for the immigrant masses of the early 20th century while the nativist wing finds their ancestral justification in 1924 Immigration Act whose purpose and effect was to go back to the America of 1890 before the tsunami of Jewish and Catholic migration.
More recently, it seemed as if the "compassionate conservative" advocates would win. President Ronald Reagan signed the IRCA amnesty into law; President George H.W.Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990 that tripled the number of employment-based immigrant visas; President George W. Bush was the first President to speak in favor of immigration reform in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office. Wait, there is more. Remember Senator Orrin Hatch who introduced an earlier version of the Dream Act or Senator John McCain who crossed the aisle to work with the late Senator Edward Kennedy to bring about comprehensive immigration change ?
No longer. As the economy deteriorated, the housing market collapsed, unemployment soared, banks stopped lending, and Wall Street stood on the precipice of ruin, the vision, compassion and courage necessary to embrace an enlightened immigration policy vanished. In its place came cries to "take our country back!" . Now that is an odd phrase- back from whom? Fear and loathing stalked the halls of Congress- defund the USCIS; safeguard the border; resist any attempt to bring the undocumented in from the shadows. These are the rallying cries of America in the age of the Tea Party uprising. Only those who go hard right can survive. The same McCain who once proudly claimed pride of authorship for CIR made television commercials in his desperate and successful effort to turn back the primary challenge of radio talk show host J.D.Hayworth that featured the repentant reformer telling his law enforcement buddies that Uncle Sam had to hurry up and "build the dang fence!" Robert Bennett who had been known for decades as one of Utah's most celebrated conservatives did not go hard right enough and he paid for his moderation by losing a primary challenge to the insurgent Mike Lee who coasted to a general election win. How about Orrin Hatch?The passionate avatar of the Dream Act now votes against his own creation.
Whatever the merits of any immigration proposal might be, the political realities now in the ascendancy are such that few, if any, Republican legislators in Congress will be foolhardy enough to vote for it, knowing that, if they do, a Tea Party primary challenge will most certainly await them at the next election cycle. Senator Lindsey Graham who sought to cobble together a bipartisan Senate consensus in favor of CIR faces precisely this uncertain fate in 2012; conscience on Capitol Hill may be precusor to a long winter in South Carolina.
In the short run, the victors in this internecine party warfare , may reap a political dividend but, over time, this is a formula for impotence and minority status. Just as the GOP won during the Roaring Twenties by closing the Golden Door through a national origins quota, the children and grandchildren of these despised immigrant newcomers turned against the Party of Lincoln and formed the bulwark of a New Deal coalition that won 5 straight presidential elections. The GOP is now repeating their historic mistake by alienating the fastest growing voting bloc in the nation. Will they pay a cost for their folly? Yes, but only if President Obama and the Democratic Party realize that forthright advocacy of immigration reform is not only good policy but winning politics Whoever captures the allegiance of the Spanish-speaking electorate will become the majority governing party for decades to come. If you doubt this, ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid whose unlikely survival was made possible through union ground troops and Hispanic voters. Joe the Plumber may sing the siren song of nativism, but America is becoming less male and less white. If the Republicans want to win,they cannot afford to throw away the electoral votes of California, Arizona, Florida,New Mexico,Colorado and Nevada. Do that and you are no longer a national party, limited to a regional redoubt in the South and inner mountain West. Even Texas, a solidly Red state where, save for isolated pockets of Democratic resistance, has now joined California as a majority-minority status. Write this down neighbor: Texas goes Democratic in two generations as more voters in the Rio Grande Valley exercise the franchise.
You know the funny thing? The Republicans do not know they have a problem and the Democrats do not see their opportunity. Stay tuned.
ILW.COM is pleased to welcome Gary Endelman to the ILW.COM Blog Family.