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  1. Bloggings: Rand Paul Makes It Official: Right Wing Republicans Do Not Want Latino Immigrants. By Roger Algase

    Just in case anyone thought that the debate over border security was really about border security, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has now made it official: it is not.
    Even with 40,000 border patrol agents and an additional $30 billion dollars to be spent militarizing the Mexican border, as agreed to by Senate Gang of Eight member Charles Schumer (D-NY) with two Republican border security "surge" proponents, Senators Bob Corker (TN) and John Hoeven (ND), this will not be enough to satisfy the anti-immigrant Republican right wing.
    So said Rand Paul on June 23, speaking on CNN's State of the Union, according to the Huffington Post and other media reports. See Huffington Post, Rand Paul Opposes Immigration Reform Even With Border Surge Amendment, June 23.
    Paul announced that he will not support the pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants unless his amendment providing that Congress must first vote on whether border security has in fact been achieved is adopted
    Of course, anti-Latino Republicans will make sure that Congress never agrees that border security has been achieved, even if the Mexican border were turned into another Berlin Wall.
    If it were not obvious already that opposition to immigration reform on the Republican right is based on hate, not border security or any of the other pretexts which have been used to block reform, it is obvious now.
    Gang of Eight (GOE) negotiators in both parties have been working on the assumption that if enough concessions were made, if enough people were thrown under the bus, a CIR deal could be reached that would pass Congress and reach the president's desk.
    Rand Paul has now made it clear that he and his right wing cohorts will never agree to let this happen. Agreeing to eliminate the DV green card lottery and the thousands of African immigrants who benefit from it each year was not enough. Continuing to bar green cards for same sex couples (if the Supreme Court upholds DOMA), was not enough. 
    Cutting back family-based immigration for the many Latin American and other minority immigrants who depend on it was not enough. Cutting off unauthorized immigrants waiting to become eligible to apply for green cards from health care and other government benefits was not enough.
    Nothing is enough to satisfy right wing bigots who do not want to allow America's Latino and other brown-skinned population to increase under any circumstances, and who still hold to their dream (in small letters) of driving 11 million minority unauthorized immigrants out of the country, no matter what the human or economic cost may be, even if it means turning America into a police state.
    Anyone who wants to understand what is really involved in the battle for immigration reform should read Keith Rushing's Huffington Post Black Voices article: Race is at the Root of the Divide over Immigration Reform (May 23).
    Rushing writes:
    "Fear, resentment and rejection of people of color has motivated a lot of the anti-immigrant laws and rhetoric in recent years..."
    He continues:
    "The expansive view of what it means to be an American will contend with that narrow, xenophobic and Nativist perspective that seeks to maintain America as a bastion of white privilege. Members of Congress will have to decide which view they support."
    Senator Rand Paul and the many immigration opponents who agree with him, especially in the Republican-controlled House, are making it clearer each day which of these two views they support.
    Meanwhile, other immigration opponents are trying to make it so expensive for unauthorized immigrants to become permanent residents or US citizens that they will find it impossible to do so. As Marielena Hincapie and Janet Murguia write in Politico (Undermining immigration reform with high costs, June 23):
    "Amendments to add additonal hurdles could make compliance so expensive that immigrants may be priced out of applying for citizenship or financially debilitated if they do apply. One amendment denies working, taxpaying immigrants the same tax credits that other workers rely on to make ends meet. Another would seize the Social Security payments that these immigrant workers have already made. Some in the House of Representatives suggest simultaneously denying immigrants health care coverage under ACA and making them deportable if they can't pay their medical bills,"
    Neither the impossible to achieve border security proposals nor the proposals to make the road to citizenship unattainable financially for millions of immigrants come from people who are serious about immigration reform. All they want is more excuses to keep millions of minority immigrants from ever becoming Americans.
  2. Bloggings: Immigration Reform: "Half The Battle Has Been Won". By Roger Algase

    Many cultures around the world have matchmaker stories.
    There is a Jewish joke about a matchmaker who tells Mrs. Goldberg in Brooklyn that she (the matchmaker) has found the ideal bride for Mrs. Goldberg's son, Sammy.  Mrs. Goldberg asks who the bride is, and the matchmaker says that it is Princess Diana.
    (I know I am dating myself, but when I first heard this joke, it was about Princess Margaret.)
    To continue, Mrs. Goldberg is horrified. How can she allow her son to marry a woman who doesn't know how to cook Kosher food or follow the other traditions of a Jewish home, let alone not being Jewish herself? 
    Patiently, one by one, the matchmaker overcomes Mrs. Goldberg's objections and explains that Princess Diana will actually turn out to be an ideal traditional Jewish wife. Finally Mrs. Goldberg gives in:
    "I agree, I give my son Sammy permission to marry Princess Diana."
    The matchmaker replies: 
    Great! Now half the battle has been won."
    I was reminded of this story when I read the June 21 story in Politico about the apparent success of the complicated and sensitive negotiations between Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), representing the Gang of Eight (GOE) and two Republicans, Senator Bob Corker (TN) and John Hoeven (ND)  over the Border Security (BS) issue. See: Inside the border deal that almost failed.
    As we have been reading in the headlines, BS has been a big obstacle to gathering the 60 votes needed to pass the GOE's CIR bill, S.744, not to mention the 70 votes which CIR supporters would like to gain in order to put pressure on the Republican-controlled House to agree to the bill.
    However, BS demands by immigration opponents, including a poison pill amendment by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) which would have imposed an unreachable goal of 90 per cent apprehension rate of people trying to cross illegally along the entire Mexican border as a "trigger" for granting green cards and a Pathway to Citizenship (PTC) to unauthorized immigrants (UI) were threatening to block Senate passage of CIR and kill hope for immigration reform entirely.
    As Politico describes in detail, the agreement reportedly worked out between Senator Schumer and the above two Republicans is now expected to attract enough support among fence-sitting Republican Senators to reach the 60 votes needed to pass, and possibly even the 70 (or more) votes mentioned above.
    According to Politico, the agreement involves spending another $30 billion on BS, putting up to 40,000 agents along the border, along with the usual drones and other high-tech equipment in order to line the pockets of the big defense contractors (and campaign contributors); and, yes, finally completing the "danged fence".
    Now, there should not be any more obstacles to approving CIR in the Senate and sending to the House, where diehard Republican anti-immigrant zealots have already announced that any Senate immigration reform bill will be Dead on Arrival (DOA) in that chamber. 
    Immigration supporters can rejoice over news of the reported Senate CIR deal. Half the battle has been won.

  3. Bloggings: House Throws Two Strikes Against Immigration Reform. Is Strike Three On The Way? And Could Immigration Reform be Facing a Lost Decade? By Roger Algase

    I begin today's post with a message of condolence to Mark Krikorian, head of the strongly anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and a leading opponent of immigration reform, over the loss of his part time volunteer job teaching ESL to immigrants preparing for the US citizenship test. 
    Krikorian was summarily fired from this position by Catholic Charities, the ESL program's sponsor, only a few hours after a column appeared in the Washington Post highlighting his opposition to multiculturalism and "mass immigration" as well as the alleged white supremacist associations of CIS's founder, John Tanton. See The provocateur standing in the way of immigration reform, June 17.
    According to the WP (Mark Krikorian loses volunteer job for Catholic Charities after Washington Post story, June 18) Krikorian said that he will miss his volunteer job, because he liked getting to know people from different places, and that he hopes someone else will take him on in the same position.
    I am sure that all Immigration Daily readers will wish him great good luck in his search.
    Turning to other immigration news, one can expect that there will be considerable euphoria over the news that the Senate may be close to a deal on Border Security which would be acceptable to Republican hold-outs and clear the way to at least the 60 votes which the Gang of Eight's CIR bill, S.744, needs to pass the upper chamber.
    The reported deal might even deliver a "large, bipartisan majority of votes" for the bill, according to Politico: Border Security deal boosts immigration bill hopes, June 19.
    Details of the purported deal are not yet available as of this writing, but it is questionable how much anyone on either side of the immigration issue really cares how many more billions of dollars are poured into the attempt to make the Mexican border look more like the Berlin Wall.
    The real issue is whether Border Security can be used as a pretext for derailing legalization and the Pathway to Citizenship.
    As long as that does not happen, then whatever Border Security it takes to get a CIR deal is evidently acceptable to CIR supporters.
    The real problem, therefore, is in what Politico accurately call the "parallel universe" of the House of Representatives. See House: Senate immigration bill DOA, June 19.
    The full House has already passed a bill which would deny funding to implement both President Obama's Deferred Action program terminating removal proceedings against "low priority" unauthorized immigrants, and his DACA program to give DREAMERS temporary relief from deportation.
    While there is no chance of this bill's going anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate or being signed by the president, it is a shot across the bow against CIR.
    It could also be called strike one. 
    This bill has now been followed by a draconian, Sensenbrenner-like bill (to quote from Immigration Daily's June 19 editorial) now being considered in the House Judiciary Committee, which contains criminal penalties against unauthorized immigrants and also gives states the power to enact their own immigration enforcement laws.
    This would effectively overrule the US Supreme Court's decision last year invalidating much of Arizona's notorious "papers, please" law.
    As Immigration Daily's June 19 editorial also points out, this would take us back to the enforcement-only days of the 2005 House immigration bill.
    It would also, in effect, nullify the 2012 election as far as immigrant rights are concerned.
    A shot even closer to the bow, or strike two against CIR.
    And now for what could be strike three: The above Politico article: House: Senate immigration bill DOA, states:
    "If 70 to 80 members vote for the bipartisan bill - which some in the Senate are aiming for - the House would barely feel pressure to take up the bill. Most conservatives instead would see passing the legislation as an act of mass stupidity."
    If House anti-immigrant reactionaries are able to pressure Speaker Boehner into following the "Hastert rule" - no bill is taken up unless supported by the majority of the (Republican) majority, this would be strike three, CIR would be out and the game of immigration reform would be over.
    And it could be over not only for this year. The House is so gerrymandered, so extreme right wing, so undemocratic and so out of touch with the real America of diversity and demographic change, that we might have a "lost decade" for immigration reform.
    See Politico: The Democrats' lost decade? June 19.
    The failure of immigration reform, if it does fail, would be only part of an even larger failure of American democracy itself.
  4. Bloggings: Department of Homeland Security Detaining Vulnerable Children in Adult Prisons, by Danielle Beach-Oswald

    The Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") apprehends thousands of children each year. These children include asylum applicants, survivors of human trafficking, those who entered the U.S. lawfully at a young age and overstayed their visas, as well as young children who entered the U.S. unlawfully to reunite with their family members. 

    For many years, the issue of detaining children has been scrutinized. In 1985, in the landmark case of Flores v. Reno, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Immigration & Naturalization Services (INS) challenging the way the agency processed, apprehended, detained, and released children in its custody.  The case established the national policy regarding the detention, release, and treatment of children in INS custody. In 1997, a California federal court approved the Flores agreement, and many of the agreement's provisions have been codified at 8 CFR 236.3, 1236.3.

    Under the Flores agreement, a juvenile is defined as a person under the age of 18 who is not emancipated by a state court or convicted and incarcerated due to a conviction for a criminal offense as an adult.  The agreement also requires that juveniles be held in the least restrictive setting appropriate for their age and that special needs are considered to ensure their protection and wellbeing. Additionally, juveniles must be released from custody without unnecessary delay to a parent, legal guardian, adult relative, individual specifically designated by the parent, licensed program, or an adult who seeks custody who DHS deems appropriate. Under the Flores agreement and INS policy, it is unlawful to detain juveniles with an unrelated adult for more than 24 hours. The Flores agreement applies to all children apprehended by DHS.

    In 2003, the laws pertaining to the detention of children changed.  Prior to 2003, children were detained and prosecuted solely by INS. However, now, DHS must first determine if the child is "unaccompanied" before they assign the child's care and custody to a federal agency. Children who are declared "unaccompanied" are transferred to the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement ("ORR").  ORR contracts with child welfare agencies around the country where children receive legal and social services, and have access to education, health care, and other services.  These shelters have specific procedures to ensure compliance with the law. Children who are not "unaccompanied" remain in DHS custody. DHS can only legally detain children if they are held in child-appropriate facilities.

    In 2010, the National Immigrant Justice Center ("NIJC") grew suspicious of DHS and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the agency seeking information about children being detained under their control. Eventually, DHS provided the data being asked for. According to this data, DHS detained children under the age of 18 for a combined total of 36,598 days in 30 adult detention facilities around the country. More than 1,300 of these children were detained in violation of the Flores agreement. Moreover, the data DHS provided likely underreports how many children were actually affected, because the terms of the legal settlement limited the scope of their data to only 30 of the approximately 250 adult detention facilities which DHS had contracts with.

    DHS cannot continue to disregard the law and detain these vulnerable children in adult prisons. As members of our communities, we must come together and pressure Congress to hold DHS accountable and to ensure that they cease their unlawful practices. Congress must make amendments to the current law to ensure that there are safekeeping provisions to protect these vulnerable children who are being detained in the immigration system. Congress should also amend the law to require DHS to immediately transfer all children it apprehends, both accompanied and unaccompanied, into the care and custody of ORR. Congress should also add a provision requiring DHS to submit an annual report to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, reflecting the number of children apprehended and the length of time those children were detained in DHS custody.  Lastly, Congress should amend the law to provide appointed counsel to all children in immigration proceedings. These amendments are necessary to ensure DHS is following the law and ensuring the protection of children being detained through the immigration system.

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  5. USCIS Memo on RFE's and NOIDS ! Cause for Concern ?

    Recently, the USCIS issued a new memo regarding the issuance of Request for Evidence (RFE's) and Notice
    of Intent to Deny (NOID's). The stated purpose of the memo was to replace a
    prior memo that gave guidance that RFE's "should be avoided if possible".
    This new memo seems to encourage not only the issuance of RFE's but, also
    reminds the Service examiners that they can deny cases without even issuing an
    RFE if in the examiner's judgment, they believe that "there is no
    possibility that additional information or explanation will cure the deficiency".
    This last reminder is what scares many of us who routinely deal with Service
    Center examiners. The legal knowledge that they must possess in reviewing a
    variety of types of petitions for countless types of companies and
    positions is often overwhelming. Regularly it seems that RFE
    responses are necessary to educate the examiner on the law, point out
    facts already included in the evidence or explain common practices of American
    business. In the past 2 weeks alone, we have had RFE's : questioning
    the expiration of MSA's with automatic renewal clauses and a current SOW
    referencing the MSA; requesting a tax return when a 10k was submitted in the
    context of questioning the ability to pay a 65,000/yr.  wage by a Fortune
    500 company with revenues in excess of  3 Billion dollars per year;
    requesting a foreign educational evaluation for an individual with a Master's
    degree from a well known Pac 10 University; challenging whether an IT project
    manager being offered a salary of 135,000/yr was the type of position that
    really needed a Bachelor's degree ; and lastly, questioning how a degree
    in Computer Science and Engineering qualified an individual for a position
    as a .Net Applications Developer.  A lot of money and time is
    wasted each week in responding to RFE's that frankly, should've never been
    issued in the 1st place but, with that being said, an RFE and an opportunity to
    respond and provide an education, is much less expensive and than having to
    file a motion to re-open or re-consider after the issuance of a denial. In
    addition to the cost factor, when an RFE is issued, for example, in the context
    of an H-1b transfer, the individual can continue to work, however, if a denial
    is issued, the employment authorized under the portability provisions of AC21
    are terminated. We are hopeful that this memo will not encourage those
    examiners who are already deeply entrenched in the "culture of No" to use their
    discretion to ignore the law and the facts and start issuing denials before
    issuing an RFE. Frankly, I am hopeful that the Service Centers ignore this HQ
    memo like they ignore so many others.
    This post originally appeared on the Hammond Law Group Views blog.
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