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  1. Bloggings: Barack Obama is now a one-term president. Are his chicken immigration policies coming home to roost? By Roger Algase

    The presidency of Barack Obama came to an end on Tuesday, September 13, 2011, with the counting of the votes in New York's special election to replace disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner, who had resigned as the result of a cyber-sex scandal. In a heavily Democratic district in Brooklyn and Queens which had not elected a Republican since the 1920's, a radical right wing Tea Party Republican, Bob Turner, who has been accused of wanting to end Social Security and Medicare, resoundingly defeated Democrat David Weprin.
    True, as always, there were some special, local reasons for the result. In a district which is 40 per cent Jewish, Obama was under attack for not towing the line on Israel, an issue on which he has shown some of the kind of courage that he has lamentably failed to show on immigration. The fact that Weprin himself is Jewish was not enough to help him. According to some pundits, Weprin may also have antagonized Orthodox Jewish voters, of whom there are many in that district, by voting for gay marriage as a New York Assemblyman. He was also said to be a weak campaigner. Is any loser in an election ever praised for being a strong campaigner?
    One does not have to be a radical Republican/Tea Party supporter in order to understand that the Democratic defeat was due to Obama's 37 per cent approval rating in the district. According to all reports, there was a widespread perception that Obama was out of touch with the economic anxieties of ordinary people, that he does not feel their pain in this time of alarmingly high unemployment and poverty in what is supposed to be the richest nation on earth.
    The chickens of the terrible advice that Obama has been following from the start, namely that the expediency of catering to right wing corporate interests in order to attract "centrist" and "independent" votes takes precedence over principle, are coming home to roost. What goes around comes around. Causes have effects. Ordinary middle class voters, who predominate in the district that the Democrats just lost, feel that the president does not care about them, that they have been thrown under the bus.
    There is another group of voters who have also been thrown under the bus by this administration - Latinos and  members  of other immigrant communities. True, the voters in yesterday's New York election were mainly middle class whites - exactly the voters who are likely to be tough on immigration and whom Obama has been trying to pander to for the past three years with his record number of deportations of brown-skinned people and his policy of "No" toward skilled immigrants from Asia and elsewhere. A lot of good it has done him.
    Now, far too late, even Obama must realize that he has no hope of winning re-election without the support of voters in the same Latino and other minority communities whom he has been doing everything possible to antagonize ever since he took office as president. But, absent collective amnesia on their part, or a radical change in immigration policy, including an immediate moratorium on deportation of all people who are not violent criminals or terrorists (and a moratorium on RFE's for professional empoyment-based petitions) Obama has no hope of winning these voters back. 
    Obama has had his chance to be a president who stood for principle, who would do more than just talk about the needs of ordinary people and the disadvantaged, including immigrants, but would actually take action to help them. Instead, just as he has been on the side of the wealthy few in economic policy, he has been on the side of the bigots with respect to immigration. The Democrats need someone else to carry their banner next year. President Obama is now President Nobama.
  2. The New Deportation Policy – It’s time to consult Immigration Lawyers; By Danielle Beach-Oswald

    We are finally getting some much needed clarity as to President Obama's August 19, 2011 announcement that the Department of Homeland Security would focus its deportation efforts on "low priority cases."
    According to Senator Dick Durban, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will now be working together to develop which criteria most embodies low-priority deportation cases.  Positive factors that DOJ and DHS are likely to pinpoint as low priority include minors, the elderly, pregnant individuals, and people that have been in the U.S. since childhood.  The inclusion of the DOJ on this issue is to be commended.  As the adjudicator of immigration claims, the DOJ must play an active role in defining low-priority removal cases as previous attempts from ICE and DHS to define prosecutorial discretion have failed. 
    More clarity as to President Obama's August 19th announcement is still needed.  Although various groups have said that an individual should not attempt to be placed in removal proceedings in order to benefit from Obama's announcement, those that are not in removal proceedings are unsure as to how to benefit from the President's new policy.  There also comes confusion as to how individuals that have been identified as low-priority will be eligible for work permits.  The New York Times noted on August 22 that employment authorizations will be possible for those identified as low-priority but only after a separate process.  The separate process has yet to be identified.
    There is one group that is being ignored as the DOJ and DHS try to implement Obama's new policy - private immigration practitioners.  Although the DOJ may try to provide an independent voice in this issue, those that deal with undocumented individuals should be at the round table to provide better information to government officials about the need for clarity in their policies.  This isn't the first time that the government has failed to seek the opinions of immigration lawyers as they frame new immigration laws.  Members of the Senate and House have repeatedly failed to consult with immigration practitioners on key issues of legislation such as the DREAM Act.  It's time for the government to learn their lesson and realize that immigration lawyers should be consulted for their years of experience on such complicated issues. 
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  3. The Sins of the Father

    By Richard M. Green
    In 2001, Salar Khoshfahm immigrated to the United States from his native Iran with his parents and siblings.  Khoshfahm was thirteen years old.  A few months after immigrating to the United States the Khoshfahm family returned to Iran to sell the property they owned to raise money to live in the United States.  A week after they returned to Iran, the September 11 attacks occurred, making travel to and from the United States Difficult.  The Khoshfahm family always intended to return to the United States, but as they prepared to return, Khoshfahm's father was diagnosed with a heart condition which prevented him from traveling.  Khoshfahm also was prevented from leaving Iran because of compulsory military service.
    On February 28, 2007, a month after turning eighteen and after obtaining a waiver of the military service requirement, Khoshfahm arrived at the San Francisco International Airport.  He presented his Iranian passport, green card, and told the immigration officer that he had been out of the United States for six years.  Lawful Permanent Residency is not so permanent. A green card holder runs the risk of abandoning their residency if they fail to maintain a residence in the United States and return from a trip abroad that is "relatively short". 
    After hearing that Khoshfahm had been out of the US for six years, the immigration officer referred Khoshfahm to the Immigration Court for review of their finding of inadmissibility as an alien who had abandoned his permanent residence and was not in possession of a returning resident visa.  The Immigration Judge found that Khoshfahm had indeed abandoned his residency and that he was inadmissible.  The Board of Immigration Appeals summarily affirmed, and Khoshfahm sought review of the government's decision before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in San Francisco. 
    When an alien that has a colorable claim to returning resident status, the government has the burden of proving that the alien is not eligible for admission to the United States as a returning resident.  In Khoshfahm's case the court concluded that the government had not carried its burden.  Since from the day of his departure to his eighteenth birthday, Khoshfahm was an unemancipated minor, the court looked to the intent of Khoshfahm's father to return.  Since Khoshfahm submitted evidence of his father's desire to return to the United States and the difficulties encountered by of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and his health, and that subsequent to the commencement of removal proceedings that Khoshfahm's father return to the United States and was admitted as a returning resident, the court concluded that Khoshfahm had not abandoned his residency.  Since Khoshfahm returned to the US shortly after turning eighteen and after obtaining a waiver from military service in Iran, his intent to return was clear. 
    The court held that Khoshfahm is a lawful permanent resident and not removable.
  4. After 9-11, What is the future of immigration reform?

    In the last ten years, there has not been a stalemate or lack of action on immigration reform bills, but rather a focus of passing enforcement-only bills without the much-needed gentler side of legalization and visa reform. During the Clinton period, four immigration laws were passed between 1997-2000. This led to major immigration reform being the emphasis of President Bush in the months preceding 9-11. As a result, five post 9-11 sweeping anti-terrorism measures were passed and implemented in the next four years.
    Perhaps most controversial of the Bush Administration's immigration measures after September 11 was the Penttbom Investigation in which Muslim immigrants living in this country were targeted and detained by the FBI. This led to NSEERS which targeted 25 countries and forced male immigrants to submit to personal interviews and biometrics with registration requirements. The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense noted serious problems in housing conditions, strip searches, and other aggressive tactics such as lights being illuminated in their cells for 24 hours a day.
    Both of our last two Presidents Bush and Obama have stated that immigration reform was a priority and yet in the last three Congresses 109-111th no immigration reform has been forth coming.
    For the nine months prior to 9-11-2001, President Bush met with President Vincente Fox of Mexico five times to come up with proposals for temporary workers program and other plans that would benefit the Hispanic community in the U.S. Instead, subsequently the creative proposals for immigration shifted to enforcement-only by tightening the border, data collection and sharing information and broadening the powers to detain and deport illegals present in the U.S. Congress took over comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bills in 2006 and 2007 only to limit it to a legalization proposal for unauthorized youth ( DREAM Act) which was defeated in the Senate.
    With pro and anti-immigration groups promoting their own agendas, immigration reform under Obama has remained at loggerheads. Yet, according to various studies it has been shown that the majority of Americans favor some form of earned legalization that would promote the opportunity for those who deserve it to obtain legal status. Nonetheless, policy makers continue to show strong bias for enforcement. Marc Rosenblum in his Migration and Immigration Policy article of August 2011 on this issue has a detailed, well-analyzed report of the history of the past ten years.
    In response to September 11, 2001, five anti-terrorism measures were passed. These included the USA Patriot Act of 2001 that expanded enforcement powers and organizational changes that amalgamated 22 federal agencies into a single new Cabinet agency of Department of Homeland Security ( DHS). This was the largest restructuring of any executive branch since the establishment of the Department of Defense (DOD) in World War II. Closely following this law came the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (EBSVERA) of 2002. Then came the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004. Lastly, in February 2005 the Real ID Act was passed by attaching the bill to an emergency war funding measure so that no separate hearings even occurred in the Senate.
    All this has resulted in tougher rules for political asylum, denying of driver's licenses to unauthorized persons, increasing detention beds, increased surveillance and border enforcement among other things that remain with us today.
    Senators Bob Menendez ( D-NY), Patrick Leahy ( D-VT) and Arlen Specter ( D-PA) offered the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIR)of 2010. The House with the aid of Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) worked with the Hispanic caucus to propose Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act for American Security and Prosperity Act (CIR-ASAP) to improve employment based visa system but only the DREAM Act for unauthorized students proceeded to pass the House only to be defeated by the Senate. Many Hispanics would have been aided by this program.
    According to the National Institute for Latino Policy and U.S. Census Reports for 2010 this asymmetry has made the Hispanics, who only have 41% eligible to vote in 2009, the lowest rate of voters per person of any ethnic group. This stands sharply in contrast to 74% of voters for non-Latino population.
    So what changes can be made in a bi-partisan manner that would enhance this country by promoting cost effective reform to integrate the nearly 12 million people currently in the US illegally, many of which may be deserving of earned legalization rather than punishment?
    Here are a few suggestions that I propose and that others have proposed in some form or another in our past and that from a practical point of view would integrate our nation and decrease costs of enforcement to promote a more balanced approach.

    Approval of extension of INA 245(i) to allow unauthorized immigrants who are otherwise eligible to adjust to lawful permanent residency without leaving the country by paying a penalty fee
    Development of relief for minors and others who have resided here for a certain amount of years (10) who would otherwise be eligible for permanent residency provided they paid taxes and were contributing members of society
    Creation of temporary work visas for agricultural jobs
    Creation of more employment based visas possibly using a point system from the family based visas
    Removal of the ten year and three year bars for unlawful presence that would encourage others to return to get a visa
    These measures alone would enhance immigration as not a problem to be solved but as an opportunity to build a successful society.
  5. GOP Candidates on Immigration - Where Do they Stand? By Danielle Beach-Oswald

    Although political pundits believe that this election focuses largely on the economy, the Washington Posted noted on September 1 that "immigration is an issue that voters won't let the GOP hopefuls escape." At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on August 24, Mitt Romney began the discussion with talks about jobs and the economy. The first question asked to him was about his stance on border security. At an August 26 event in South Carolina, Michele Bachmann's biggest praise came from comments about her stance on illegal immigration rather than her views on the health care overhaul or the economy. After President Bush's 2006 bill that was criticized by many Republicans for its legalization proposal, the Republican party has moved further to the right on the issue of illegal immigration but many are asking where each of the candidates stand.
    Current Republican front-runner Rick Perry remains a strong advocate of border security and believes that securing the border must happen before any discussion on illegal immigration. However, as Governor of Texas, Rick Perry was a staunch advocate of close business ties between Mexico and the United States and criticized the construction of a border security fence. Additionally, other Republicans have criticized Rick Perry's signing of a Texas bill that allowed all Texans who lived in the state for three years to be eligible for in-state tuition rates regardless of their legal status. Perry has also remained critical of Arizona's immigration position.
    Mitt Romney's priority rests on cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. He believes that only after employers are punished for hiring illegal immigrants should the country proceed with any form of immigration reform. Although Michelle Bachmann believes in building a border security fence on "every inch" of the US-Mexico border, she has failed to provide any real details with regards to her stance on immigration reform. Perhaps the most controversial stance on immigration comes from Ron Paul who believes in eliminating birthright citizenship which would change the 14th Amendment. He views birthright citizenship as a major encouragement of illegal immigration.
    It's time for the GOP candidates to lay out their plans on immigration reform. There has been a lot of rhetoric, but little substance added. Although jobs and the economy may be an important issue in this election season, the Pew Research Center noted on May 4, 2011 that 72% of all Americans support a pathway to citizenship program. It's time for the Republican candidates to keep this in mind and draft a cohesive policy towards immigration reform.
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