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  1. Blogging: What do the Tea Party's policies on the debt ceiling and immigration have in common?, by Roger Algase

    Is there a common element in the Tea Party's insane rush toward financial Armageddon and its stand on immigration? Merely asking the question answers it. Both are expressions of extreme xenophobia. One does not have to be a financial genius to know that America's economy, standard of living and influence in the world (such as it is) depend on the federal government's abililty to borrow from foreign countries, especially China, but including many others as well. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling means that the US would no longer be able to borrow the money it needs to pay interest on the trillions of dollars in debt it already owes to foreign central banks and private investors. Sooner or later, after all the accounting tricks have been used up, America would default.
    At that point our foreign creditors would lose faith in our ability to make good on our promises and would stop buying US assets. America would become what Argentina was a decade ago. In essence, America would be saying to its foreign creditors: "Ha, ha, suckers, see what you get for trusting our word!" But the Tea Party doesn't care of foreign creditors get hurt. After all, they are only foreigners. If America's economy shuts down as collateral damage, who cares?
    We already know what the Tea Party and the other Republican right wing radicals think of foreign citizens.  One of the main speakers at the Tea Party's founding convention last year was Tom Tancredo.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio spoke at one of Sharron Angle's Senate campaign events in Nevada, where he openly suggested that the state should lock up Spanish-speaking immigrants in desert tents,  just as he did in Arizona. Look at the draconian anti-immigrant laws coming out of Alabama, Georgia, Arizona and other states with Republican-dominated legislatures.
    (By the way, an ID reader recently posted a comment implying that I am an anti-Republican partisan for pointing out the above fact. I invited him, and I invite all ID readers, to name a single state with a Democratic - controlled legslature which has passed or is considering any anti-immigrant law even remotely comparable to the ones that have been coming out of the Republican-dominated states. I would also like to hear from anyone who knows if the Democrats have ever introduced or passed a bill in Congress similar to the Republican anti-immigrant HR 3447, which passed the House in 2005. 
    This tells us all we need to know about where the Tea Party and other radical right wing Republicans stand toward foreigners, financially and demographically. But what about President Obama? Is their any difference between his dithering about using his executive powers to let in a few skilled immigrants and to put a break on the rush toward turning America into Deportation Nation, and his reluctance to announce that he will use Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to do whatever is necessary to pay America's obligations to foreign creditors?
    The debt ceiling and immigration - this pair of issues could be solved, or at least headed in the right direction,  if the president could somehow grow a different type of pair.
  2. Bloggings: Why Obama's willingness to sell out on the budget negotiations is a bad sign for immigrants, by Roger Algase

    Danielle Beach-Oswald has done a superb job of describing the details of anti-immigrant laws that have been adopted in states in the deep South such as Alabama and Georgia. By doing so, she makes it easier to understand the full extent of the irrationality and hatred motivating these laws. Should anyone be surprised? These two states were at the center of the resistance to racial desegregation during the Civil Rights era in the 1950's and 1960's.
    Alabama was the home of Governor George Wallace and Sheriff Bull Connor. It was in Alabama that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his letter from Birmingham jail and Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person, setting off the Montgomery bus boycott. Georgia was the home of Governor Lester Maddox, who became famous by standing in the doorway of his store with an ax handle to keep any black person from entering. Those two states, though by no means the only Southern states to do so, were also known for their lynch mobs, their laws banning interracial marriage and their battle cry: "Segregation Forever!"
    Anone who thinks for a single instant that the history of racial segregation and persecution in those two states half a century ago has nothing to do with their extreme anti-immigrant laws today is deluding himself. But anyone who thinks that the danger of extreme anti-immigrant laws with the objective of making life intolerable for all Spanish-speaking and other minority immigrants is limited to state legislatures, inside or outside the old South, is also deluded.
    H.R. 3447, passed by the Republican House of Representatives in late 2005, in some ways would have made the Alabama and Georgia laws read like a pro-immigrant bill of rights by comparison. The 2005 House bill, for example, if I recall correctly, would have made each day in the US without authorization a separate felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It would have imposed the same penalty on anyone, including a US citizen, who provided assistance to anyone who was in the US illegally. Fortunately, the bill never made it to the Senate, where it had no chance of passage in any event.
    If the House bill had become law, the jails might have been full of American emergency room doctors, lawyers advising immigrant clients, or, possibly even bus or taxi drivers who failed to check the immigration status of their passengers; and restaurant customers who tipped a waiter without asking to see the person's papers first, or store clerks who sold merchandise to customers without doing the same. Yet, 2005 was a golden age of immigration tolerance compared to today.
    The two major parties were making an historic effort to reach a compromise on immigration reform, with the active support and involvement of the president, not just empty words. If Congressional Republicans could produce a lunatic fringe immigration bill such as H.R. 3447 back in 2005, when the economy was going well and there was no such thing as the Tea Party, it does not take much imagination to guess what kind of immigration laws they would pass if they were able to take control of both Houses of Congrsss and the White House next year.
    But where does the greatest danger of what could amount one day soon to a Congressional moratorium on all immigration come from? There is a good argument that it comes from the current debt ceiling negotiations between President Obama and the Congressional Republican leaders. But wait a minute. What connection is there between immigration and the budget? Am I trying to say that there might not be enough money to keep the immgration system going? Not at all. True, there may be some very nasty budget cuts or shutdowns ahead, but that is not the main point.
    The government can always find a way to keep whatever programs it wants to in place. No matter what happens with the debt ceiling or the credit rating of the US, there will always be money for "Secure Communities" and e-verify. Of that, we can be sure. My point is quite different. John F. Kennedy, before becoming president, wrote a book called "Profiles in Courage". If someone were to write a book today called "Profiles in Cowardice", the opening, middle  and closing chapters would unquestionably be about Barack Obama.
    It is hard to think of an issue that the Obama has not caved into the Republicans on since becoming president, including adopting their "enforcement-only" immigration agenda lock stock and barrel (OK, granted, he has not yet adopted their gun control policies, so maybe my phraseology in this sentence is a little misplaced). But, aside from immigration, few things are more outrageous and a betrayal of everything he campaigned for than his overeagerness to give away the store on social safety net issues, such as Social Security and Medicare, without insisting the the rich begin to pay their fair share of taxes. 
    Not only the Tea Party pro big business fanatics, but all Republicans, now know, if they never did before, that the president is a soft touch who can be had on any issue, not just the budget. Even if Obama were not already rushing to deport more than 400,000 people each year, far beyond the wildest dreams of even the most anti-immigrant Republicans during the Bush era, all immigrant haters will understand that if Obama can rip up the social safety net for American citizens in his eagerness to surrender the Republicans, he will have no hesitation in throwing even more immigrants under the bus too.
    Ultimately, Obama's readiness to sell out his principles on any issue is something that may be beyond the capacity of a political analyst to understand. It may require the skills of a psychologist. The president's actions on immigration so far are no exception.
  3. Bloggings: Deportation - the battle between humanity and hate goes on, by Roger Algase

    The 7/20 ID issue has a link to a 7/18 article in the Huffington Post called "Americans Married To Immigrants Push For Reform". Among other items, it relates the story of Hope Mustakim, an American citizen married for the past year to Nazry Mustakim, a 31 year old immigrant from Singapore who was brought to the US legally as a child and has had a green card since 1992. Like many other people caught in the trap of IIRIRA, the harsh immigration law rammed through a Republican-controlled Congress in late September 1996 in the dead of night without debate, and attached to a "must pass" military appropriations bill barely over a month before a presidential election, Nazry is facing deportation because of a minor drug possession conviction dating from the time  he was a teenager. 
    Even though he has been drug free for the past five years, according to the article, Nazry faces deportation because an immigration judge has no discretion to grant relief in this kind of case. Nazry is now in immigration detention and his American wife can only see him through a glass window. This is, certainly, a heart-breaking story, but many of us have become desensitized because  stories like this are so common. One does not even need a drug conviction to be guilty of an "aggravated felony" triggering mandatory revocation of one's green card and automatic deportation. A couple of drunk driving convictions may be enough.
    Then why mention this story at all? "American family is broken up by draconian anti-immigrant law imposing drastic consequences for dark-skinned foreign citizen convicted of relatively minor offense years ago." What else is new? Forget that not only the rights of immigrants are involved in this type of case, but the right of an American citizen to choose whom to marry, something that the Supreme Court, in a different context, has held to be among our most cherished and fundamental liberties.  
    Forget the injustice of tearing someone away from his family and banishing him from this country forever for a crime that, if committed by an American, would most likely result in nothing more than a short jail term at worst. We are all too used to this kind of inhumanity in our immigration system, to the practice of treating immigrants as if they were less than fully human, to make much of a fuss about it. There was a time in Europe when a child could be hanged for stealing a loaf of bread. Get over it. Life moves on.
    The point of this comment, therefore, is not to reflect on the harshness and cruelty of the deportation action that Nazry Mustakim is facing, along with untold hundreds of thousands, or millions, of other foreign born people in similar situations. Instead, I will focus on only two aspects of the article. First, why was a harsh immigration law such as IIRIRA passed at the time that it was? Surely not for economic reasons. Has anyone heard about the "Great Depression of 1996?" I haven't. Maybe I have missed something. 
    What about terror? Yes, that was a concern, and a legitimate one. The World Trade Center had been attacked in 1993. But it would be another five years from the passage of IIRIRA before September 11, 2001. IIRIRA had some anti-terror provisions, but that was not the main reason for its passage. The main reason, or at least one of the main reasons, was to trap immigrants like Nazry Mustakim, who was neither a terrorist, a violent criminal, nor posing any danger to society, for minor crimes, and use these minor crimes as an excuse to kick them out of the country. 
    To put it plainly, IIRIRA was enacted in large part becasue of a white "backlash" over the fact that for the previous three decades, since 1965, America had started to welcome immigrants from every corner of the globe, regardless of skin color. Many articles and comments written at that time in the popular media, not to mention a book such as Peter Brimelow's racist anti-immigrant "Alien Nation", published in 1995, leave no doubt about that. 
    The other point that is striking about the Nazry and Hope Mustakim story is the reaction to it among Huffington Post readers. As we all know, the Huffington Post is not exactly Fox News.  Far from being a right wing hate site, the Huffpost is considered among the more liberal publications in America, and is certainly sympathetic to immigrants. Otherwise, this story would not have been published at all. Therefore it is all the more shocking (if one can be shocked by anything in immigration today) that there were so many hate comments left by Huffpost readers in reaction to the story. 
    Aside from the predictable comments of the "Criminal go home!" variety,  there was a slew of vitriolic attacks against Nazry for being an "illegal alien" despite the fact that he came to the US legally as a child and has been a lawful permanent resident for almost 20 years.  Other comments attacked the couple's "fake marriage", even though there was no question that the relationship was genuine. As if to underscore that point, Hope Mustakim posted replies to many of the negative, hate filled comments, patiently pointing out Nazry's positive accomplishments - overcoming addiction, always having been in America legally, etc.
    It is as if Hope Mustakim had to remind the other blog posters that her husband is a human being, something that neither they, nor our deportation-addicted immigration system, seem willing to accept. Hate vs. humanity - the struggle for immigrant rights continues.
  4. A Lesson to Be Learned from Alabama; By Danielle Beach-Oswald

    Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is
    As states are continuing to pass immigration laws of their own, they should take note of the swift impact of Alabama's HB56 on the state and people of Alabama. Although most of Alabama's immigration law won't take effect until September 1, Alabama's law is considered to be one of the harshest in the country. Provisions of HB56 include requiring law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of any person they suspect is in the country illegally. HB56 will also have a dire effect on children as it would require primary and secondary schools to check the status of all students and parents that are registered in the school. Additionally, there are also provisions requiring the use of E-Verify and harsh penalties for employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
    Although the law is being challenged in federal court, the impact of the law is already being felt across Alabama. The impact on Alabama's education system will likely lead to severe financial problems. Although schools are required to check the status of all students and their parents, they are forbidden from the 1982 Supreme Court decision of Plyler v. Doe to deny educating these students. Educators are fearful that the new law will create discrepancies in the amount of students registered in Alabama's school districts and consequently have a direct impact on federal educational funding.
    State budgets are already feeling the impact of a continued budget strain from long before the passage of HB56. Although Alabama's judicial system has been faced with a $13.2 million cut in their budget this year, the new bill will only increase costs to an already strained judicial system. HB56 requires all detained immigrants to be presented to a magistrate for a review of their status, likely leading to the hiring of more magistrates in Alabama. Additionally, a call center that will cost $4 million to help employers with E-Verify is also set to be established.
    State officials have also noted that the number of individuals seeking apostilles, a guarantee that an individual who signs a state certified document has the ability to do so, has increased by nearly 400% in the past few months. This too has been costly for Alabama's Department of Public Health.
    Many economists are predicting a mass exodus of undocumented immigrants. Currently, 4.2% of Alabama's workforce consists of undocumented workers. Catholic churches and Latino organizations are already reporting an exodus of illegal immigrants from Alabama to other states. These workers have played a vital role in rebuilding parts of Alabama that have been devastated in the wake of spring tornadoes. Although Alabama needs an estimated 7200 workers to help rebuild, this bill is expected to create a massive worker shortage.
    As states try to pass immigration laws, they must learn from Alabama's lesson and realize that the consequences for their hastily designed bills will have wide ramifications on their budgets and economies.
  5. Bloggings: How not to attract talented immigrants to America, by Roger Algase

    I recently heard from an acquaintance  of mine (not a client), whose employer had received a denial notice from USCIS for a change of status petition from the person's current temporary professional-level status to a different one. The person involved is unquestionably proficient in the  field of activity in question, working for an established organization, and with many accomplishments to be proud of. Many similar cases have been easily approved, to my knowledge.
    This one was not. I am not familiar with the details, since, as mentioned above, I am not the person's lawyer. I am not writing to challenge the denial in this particular case.  For all I know, it might have been justified. But what is important in this situation was the tone of the denial. The person reports that the way the denial notice (which I have not seen), was written, was so antagonistic, hostile and abusive, to the point of being humiliating, that the person, the value of whose work is beyond any resasonable question, had lost all desire to stay in the United States.
    The person is still eligible to work and stay in the US with the current visa, but no longer feels welcome here, and is thinking seriously of going home for good. I might add that the person comes from one of the lowest of low-fraud countries anywhere in  the world, is highly educated, speaks English almost like a native, and was seeking a visa which, way back in the mists of time before the Obama administation took office, used to be routinely approved. My acquaintance is not given to emotional outbursts, but normally tends to be rather cool and laid back.
    My point is not that USCIS should approve every professional work visa petition. As I mentioned, it is certainly possible that there might have been a valid reason of one kind or another for a denial in this case, since I do not know the details. But the abusive tone of the denial, as my acquaintance describes it, and I have no reason to doubt the person's word, was totally uncalled for, while at the same time being all too familiar, as any business immigration lawyer can attest.
    In fact, that may have been the saving factor in this situation. I told my acquaintance that I and many other immigration lawyers are so used to receiving abusive, hostile and disparaging decisions from USCIS adjudicators that it would be more appropriate to look at the denial notice as just normal USCIS writing style in the current age of Obamigration. It should not be taken personally.
    My acquaintance brightened up and may decide to stay in America after all. If the person does, all of us, except for some splenetic USCIS adjudicators and their superiors in Washington or in the field who egg them on, will benefit.
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