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  1. 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.
     
  2. 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.
     
  3. 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.
  4. Bloggings: A few more thoughts about the effect of 9/11 on immigration, by Roger Algase

    Much has been written about specific pro-immigrant reforms which may have have been under consideration before 9/11 but were put on hold, or into the dust bin of immgration history after the attacks of 10 years ago. To mention only one small example, as I recall, the INS had announced during the summer of 2001 that it was planning to publish a rule providing for a 60-day grace period, similar to the one for F-1 students who finish or drop out of school, for H-1B workers who finish or leave their jobs for any reason.
    The fairness of such a rule would have been obvious. Many H-1B employees are here with families, homes that they own, and children in school. To expect them to leave the US immediately upon leaving their jobs, or, as is often the case, losing them suddenly with little or no advance notice, would strike even the average five year old child as unfair. It is scandalous that not only was publishing this proposed rule scrapped in the wake of 9/11, but in the 10 years since it has not even been considered by immigration officials who like to call themselves adults.  
    The same applies to the absurdly short 10-day grace period upon completion of a full term of H-1B employment. Has denying a realistic grace period to H-1B professional workers made America safer from attack during the past 10 years? Again, this is only one small example of how the 9/11 attacks were used as a cover for pre-existing anti-immigrant attitudes among both the general public and the immigration bureaucracy.
    On a larger scale, before 9/11, immigration was regarded as a branch of law enforcement and was mainly under the authority and control of the Department of Justice (with, of course, supporting roles for the State Department and Labor Department, as is still the case). This made sense, because the basic concept behind having a Department of Justice is that its actions should be governed by the rule of law. However, after 9/11, primary responsibility for immigration was transferred to the newly created Department of Homeland Security.
    The implied idea behind this was that immigrants are presumed to be dangerous to the US. Never before in US history, even in times of restrictive measures such as the Chinese exclusion laws or the 1924 Immigration Act, with its notorious "national origins" quotas excluding Jewish, Italian, Eastern European and most other immigrants from outside northern Europe, was the immigrant community in general so stigmatized. When immigration becomes primarily a security issue, the assumption is that the rule of law is no longer fundamental. Even trumped up threats to US security may take precedence over complying with the laws or the Constitution. Just ask Mr. Cheney.
    Instead of looking at immigration as either primarily a law enforcement or national security issue, important as these two issues are, immigration should be considered a branch of the law of human rights. I predict that this area of law will become increasingly well recognized and important during this century.
    For example, environmental law, which did not even have a separate heading in the West Digest in the early 1970's if I remember correctly, is now so important that one of our leading presidential candidates wants to abolish the EPA, and large polluters need to spend billions of dollars in campaign contributions so that ordinary Americans (and immigrants) can continue to choke on dirty air and drink poisoned water. In the same way, human rights law will become the true legal foundation for the 21st century.
    Does this mean that there is a "human right" on the part of everyone in the world to come to or live in the United States? Absolutely not. The idea of human rights does not include something that is impossible as a practical matter or patently absurd. But it does mean that the right to certain fundamental legal protections and to be treated fairly by the justice system should not depend on one's citizenship. It also means that the immigration system should be based on our common humanity, not artificial divisions.
    2,000 years ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca wrote that there were two types of citizenship: the one assigned to us by an accident of birth, and the other to be measured by the path of the sun. America has already had enough experience with the first kind of citizenship. If there is any lesson to be learned from 9/11 at all, it is that the time to focus on the second kind of citizenship has now arrived.
     
  5. Bloggings: Who needs most to learn the lesson of 9/11? By Roger Algase

    I well remember the horrors of 9/11/2001. I lived in Manhattan then and still do. I could see the smoke coming from the Twin Towers in the distance from my window. I knew at least one person in the complex (who got out safely). My older daughter, who was living in New Jersey at the time, would have been passing through the PATH station underneath the buildings on her way to work in Manhattan around the time of the attacks if she had not has left her job only a few weeks before. 
    She had, in fact, gone to a photo store in the lower level of the WTC just a few days before 9/11 to leave off some film to be developed. (For the benefit of younger ID readers, film is something that was once used to take pictures with before the invention of the cell phone and the digital camera.) The photo store was obliterated in the attack. But several weeks later, a worker going through the rubble noticed the envelope with the film lying on top of some of the debris and mailed it to my daughter. She had the film developed and the pictures came out without a scratch. I always shiver a little when I think of this incident.
    But what is the real legacy of 9/11/? Perhaps more to the point, does anyone care what the legacy is, or is the 10th anniversary just an exercise in media hype? There are very real, urgent issues facing America today - the concentration of wealth upward, disappearance of the middle class; the transformation of America from a vibrant democracy into a third world banana republic controlled by unlimited corporate money, as Arianna Huffington shows in her brilliant book Third World America; and, above all, the deepening unemployment, hopelessness, poverty and despair which are taking America back to the time of the Great Depression, all of which minority immigrants are now being made scapegoats for, just as they were made scapegoats for 9/11.
    Is not all the focus on this event just a diversion from America's real problems now? Of course, we must remain vigilant. But Bin Laden is dead. So are many of his cohorts. Al Qaeda still exists and is dangerous, to be sure. But America's greater danger is from the forces of unreason, avarice and hate inside our own borders, especially inside our own political establishment.
    Will rehashing the horror, grief and terrible suffering of that day help in overcoming America's urgent economic problems now? Will it assuage the pain of those who lost their loved ones? Will it bring the 2,500 American citizens and 500 immigrants who died in the attacks back to life? And this brings me to the main point of 9/11.
     Over the past 10 years,  we have grown used to rants from right wing politicians about the "3,000 Americans" who died in the 9/11 atrocity. We have, especially during the Bush years, grown used to seeing the word "immigrant" lumped together with the word "terrorist", as if both were essential parts of a composite word. We can remember the "Special Registration" persecution of men from Muslim countries (including many who were not Muslims - I once gave a presentation about Special Registration at a Roman Catholic Church - to a group of Indonesian Christians.)
    The reality is that, according to CNN estimates at the time, not all of the 9/11 victims were Americans. Some 500 of the 9/11 victims were non-US citizens. If I remember the figures correctly, the victims came from over 90 different countries. Not long ago, I visited a branch of the Folk Art Museum near New York's Lincoln Center and saw a huge quilt embroidered with the names of all of the WTC victims. These name are a cross section of almost every nationality, every ethnicity, every religion (including, of course, Islam), every skin color  and every language group known to the human race. 
    What were the perpetrators of 9/11 World Trade Center atrocity really trying to attack? Diversity, tolerance, harmony, respect and equality among the different peoples of the earth. Where was the attack directed? Against the most international city on this planet.There is, after all, a lesson in 9/11. The people who wrote the immigration laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona, and who are pushing for similar laws in other states, as well as the authors of the 2005 bill H.R. 3447, and all the other purveyors of hate against Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and black immigrants (and their US citizen children) must learn the lesson of 9/11. The 10th anniversary commemoration is for them.
     
     
     
     
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