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  1. Report: USCIS Director Backs Trump's Demand For Drastic Cuts in Legal Immigration. How Fair Will Future USCIS Application Decisions Be? Roger Algase

    This comment has been updated and revised as of October 8 at 11:19 pm.

    Late on Sunday evening, October 8, the White House released a series of demands as the price for agreeing to a legislative deal to rescue nearly 800,000 DREAMERS who are threatened with deportation as a result of Trump's cancellation of the DACA program.

    According to these reports, the president's demands amount to a virtual wish list of the anti-immigrant organizations, some of which have been designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which have never accepted the immigration reforms instituted by the 1965 immigration act more than 50 years ago, and which are seeking to bring back a system closer to the Europeans only Immigration Act of 1924 discussed below.

    POLITICO reports, for example, that Trump's list of demands includes not only such items as funding for his Mexican border Wall and a cutoff in federal aid to Sanctuary Cities, but also authorization for state and local police to engage in immigration enforcement, leading to the racial profiling of minority immigrants which the Supreme Court invalidated in the case of Arizona's infamous S.B. 1070 law and its counterparts in Alabama and other states, and which Texas has now tried to revive in its recently passed S.B. 4 immigration statute.

    However, in a demand that is even more drastic than the draconian enforcement provisions supported by Trump, the White House is in effect asking for the RAISE Act, which would cause a huge reduction in immigration from outside Europe by, among other things, eliminating key family sponsorship quotas, in the same spirit as that of the 1924 immigration law, to be included in any package to help the DREAMERS.

    POLITICO even quotes the Director of USCIS, Lee Francis Cissna, as saying that the demanded changes in the legal immigration system are "crucial", because, allegedly, "American workers are getting deeply disadvantaged by the current status quo."

    Aside from the fact that numerous independent studies have shown that there is little no truth to the accusation that legal immigrants in general are taking jobs away from or lowering the living standards of American workers, one can only wonder how fair and objective future decisions on petitions and applications before USCIS for work permits, green cards, and other legal status will be by that agency if its director, who is known chiefly for allegedly writing dozens of letters supporting Senator Charles Grassley's (R-Iowa) attacks on both legal and illegal immigration:

    is so strongly opposed to the current immigration laws which he is obligated to enforce as written, and is against such a key part of America's entire legal immigration in principle.

    One could even ask if, for example, the hurricane of H-1B RFE's this year, as well as unusual delays in other immigration cases which are normally approved without any questions (as at least this lawyer is experiencing - I am sure that many other immigration lawyers are as well) is due to any reason other than the influence of pervasive anti-immigrant ideology at the highest levels of the Trump administration.

    Are even the most basic standards of fundamental fairness and the rule of law in legal immigration application/petition decision-making now in danger of being replaced by a rush to return to the white supremacist immigration regime beginning nearly a century ago?

    And if legal immigration applicants can no longer receive fair decisions, based on the laws as written, for their applications, how much longer will the rule of law, on which our democracy depends, survive for American citizens in the Donald Trump Era?

    In some of my previous comments, including my latest previous Immigration Daily comment, published on October 5, I showed that the Trump administration's demonizing of Latin American, Muslim, Asian and other non-white immigrants as "criminals", "terrorists" and "low wage stealers of American jobs" is not a new phenomenon in America. Instead, Trump's anti-immigrant agenda represents a throwback to an earlier period of prejudice against unpopular immigrant groups, notably Jews, Italians and Eastern Europeans, as well as non-white immigrants from the entire rest of the world (except for the Americas and other "Western Hemisphere" countries).

    Attempts to exclude non-"Nordic" immigrants from America culminated in the infamous Johnson-Reed immigration act of 1924 which was to form the basis of US immigration policies for the next 40 years. However, the openly racial prejudices which were embodied in the 1924 law, based on the bogus and long since discredited "Eugenics" theory of that time, and which were co-extensive with the segregation laws against African-Americans and other non-white minorities, along with widespread discrimination against Jews here at home, did not lead to the overthrow of America's democracy.

    To the contrary, despite basing its 1924 immigration law, which Adolf Hitler himself expressed open admiration for writing in Mein Kampf, on the pseudo-scientific theory of "Nordic" racial superiority, America was able to unite and defeat the Nazi menace to world civilization in World War 2. Our democracy was able to survive the legal structure of prejudice and discrimination against both immigrants and minority Americans, and that structure itself was abolished in the Civil Rights era of the 1960's.

    Will America be able to institute a regime of anti-immigrant racial and religious discrimination, such as we are seeing in Donald Trump's speeches, executive orders and other policies aimed at instituting mass arrests, incarceration and ultimate deportation of non-white immigrants, and drastic reductions in their legal entry to the US, a second time without losing our democracy?

    I will return to this question in a forthcoming comment.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 10-09-2017 at 08:51 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. Trump's Push to Cut Legal Immigration as Part of DACA Deal Recalls America's Long History of Discrimination Against Immigrant Minorities. Roger Algase

    Update, October 6 at 12:54 pm:

    reports on October 5 that, in a new tweet, Trump has accused the Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, of "fighting for the violent M-13 gangs & Sanctuary Cities"

    This latest attempt by the president to demonize Mexican and other Latino immigrants as violent criminals is straight out of the more than a century-old playbook of vilification directed against racial and religious minorities on the part of white supremacist immigration opponents as described in more detail below.

    However, it is not only the rights of immigrants that are in danger from these open appeals to racial and religious hatred on the part of powerful politicians and other influential public figures, such as Donald Trump in the case of Mexican and Muslim immigrants, and the notorious anti-semitic automobile magnate, Henry Ford, in the 1920's and 1930's with his invective against the Jews.

    As the example of Germany in the 1930's shows, demonizing and scapegoating conducted against an unpopular minority, in that case also the Jews, can lead to the end of democracy and the institution of fascism or some other form of authoritarian rule.

    We must not let this happen in America.

    My earlier comments appear below.

    This comment has been updated and revised as of October 5 at 1:18 pm.

    POLITICO reports on October 5 that Trump's top immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, who even though still quite young, is already well known for his white supremacist views

    is drafting a proposal that would cut legal immigration in half as Trump's price for agreeing to sign a legislative fix for DREAMERS whose dilemma Trump himself created by cancelling the DACA program.

    This latest reported assault on legal immigration in the Trump administration makes a review of America's shameful history of actions to bar immigration by targeted groups, whether Jews, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Africans and Asians a century ago, or Muslims, Latin Americans (and still Africans and Asians!) today, all the more important in order to understand the roots of Trump's war on non-white immigrants and the direction in which it could be leading.

    Decades ago, while I was a Harvard Law School student. one of my professors referred to the old adage that a page of history was worth a dozen pages of law (or was it a hundred? - I have forgotten the exact quote). The point was, of course, that in order to understand the real meaning of a law or judicial decision, it is essential to pay attention to its background and context.

    In the same way, anyone who wants to understand the real meaning and purpose of Donald Trump's immigration agenda has to take America's long history of scapegoating and rejecting unpopular immigrant minorities into account, even if the targets of prejudice have changed.

    Today, much of the commentary concerning the Donald Trump administration's immigration policies deals with detail in isolation, as if America had never faced these questions before:

    Will or will not the federal courts interpret Trump's Muslim ban executive orders (whichever updated version may be in vogue at the moment) to allow Muslim grandparents of US citizens to enter the United States? Is Trump deporting more immigrants than President Obama did, or is Trump actually deporting fewer immigrants but only arresting and incarcerating more than Obama did?

    Now that Trump has pulled the rug out from under nearly 800,000 young people in the US who are mainly from Mexico and other parts of Latin America by rescinding President Obama's DACA protections, will our current president seriously try to persuade Congress to grant relief for these deserving immigrants who are American in all but their documents, and who were brought to this country through no fault of their own?

    Does it make any sense to troll Facebook or other social media to try to find connections to Muslim or other foreign terrorists while a home grown, native-born white American weapons addict guns down 59 victims and sends more 500 others to the hospital with injuries?

    Was the DHS making the best use of its resources by rounding up and arresting 498 mainly Hispanic and other non-white immigrants, including 317 "criminal aliens" whose most frequently charged offense was DUI (in 86 cases). not to mention the acute danger to America posed by one immigrant who was arrested as a "Peeping Tom", instead of concentrating on making more effective arrangements to protect more than 3 million Hispanic US citizens who, at that time, were awaiting the worst hurricane in Puerto Rico's entire history?

    These are all important questions, but they, along with dozens of others of today's immigration policy issues, cannot be fully understood purely on their own terms. In order to understand and deal with these issues meaningfully and comprehensively, we must look at America's immigration past.

    To do this, I will turn to an article which is not by a law professor but by a journalist.

    Despite the fact that it originates from outside academia, and that it also contains an incomplete and faulty understanding the issues involved in this administration's war on H-1B and other skilled immigrants, this article, which appeared on August 5 in The Daily Beast, by Jack Schwartz, a former Newsday book editor, contains one of the best descriptions of the connection between immigration in the Trump era and America's past history of prejudice against immigrant minorities that can be found anywhere. See:

    In response to an unconscionable attempt by Trump's white supremacist White House immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, to downplay the significance of the State of Liberty as a beacon of American freedom and immigration diversity, Schwartz writes:

    "...a sea change had occurred in the national origins of America's immigrants. In the 40 years between 1880 and 1920 more than 20 million immigrants arrived in this country. Millions of Italians, Jews and Slavs arrived in the port of New York alone..."

    As every schoolchild in America knows, and has known for generations, the Statue of Liberty, with its world-famous poem by Emma Lazarus inscribed at the bottom, is a symbol of welcome to immigrants from all over the world.

    Schwartz writes:

    "There is a subtext to Miller's admonition
    [that the Emma Lazarus poem was not part of the original Statue of Liberty, but was added a couple of decades later - what difference on earth does that make?!] That the Statue of Liberty does not celebrate a land of immigrants but is rather a memorial to Republican virtue. The object is to divorce the idea of liberty from foreign taint. Implicit in this message is that our liberties are threatened by alien incursions. It is at the heart of a nativist agenda that hearkens back to the anti-Irish Know-Nothing agitation of the 19th Century and continued spasmodically throughout our history."

    Schwartz continues, with a reference to one of the most popular anti-immigrant strategies used by nativist of the early 20th Century to try to keep out Jews, Italians and Eastern European immigrants, a strategy that is being revived today in the English-language preference provisions of the proposed RAISE Act, a measure that would drastically cut immigration form outside Europe, and which Trump has expressed such vigorous support for:

    "Although thwarted by presidential vetoes, nativists finally succeeded in passing a literacy test for immigrants in 1917, a prologue to the racially motivated quota system of the 1920's that stifled immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe."

    Schwartz also adds:

    "President Trump's proposal to cut legal immigration in half in keeping with this history of nativist resurgence. In fact Miller, by embracing the idea that immigrants be required to speak English, is doing the restrictionists one better. They had only insisted that immigrants be literate in at least one tongue, not limited to English. Miller has upped the ante."

    Rebutting the common restrictionist myth that the white European immigrants of 100 years ago learned English faster and assimilated to American culture more easily than the Latin American, Asian, Middle Eastern and African immigrants of today, Schwartz writes:

    "It was assumed that they would learn English once they arrived, as most arrived. But not all...Immigrants to the Lower East Side learned English in fits ad starts...Italian coal miners read newspapers such as Il Martello and Jewish garment workers poured over The Forverts. The foreign language press was a staple of immigrant communities many of whose members had little or no English. It was their children who fully assimilated."

    While today's anti-immigrant white supremacists promote the myth of white immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries supposedly having easily fit into and been accepted by American society, the reality was very different. Schwartz writes the following about one leading anti-immigrant figure of that period:

    "Prescott Hall, a leader of the immigration Restrictionist League in the early 20th century, outraged by President Taft's veto of an immigration bill imposing literacy tests on immigrants, declared: 'To hell with Jews, Jesuits and steamships.''

    Schwartz also comments, accurately and in a matter of fact manner:

    "Updating this to replace the aforementioned with Mexicans and Muslims, we have a fairly concise picture of Trump's immigration policy."

    Anyone who thinks for a moment that Latin American, Asian or other non-white immigrants present unique challenges to "threats" to American society today that white, European, immigrants were never accused of presenting in the past by the immigration opponents of that earlier time; or that there is anything new about Donald Trump's relentless attacks against non-white immigrants and his ongoing attempts to exclude and expel them from America today, will be quickly disabused by Schwartz's following additional comment:

    "As the social scientist Robert Mayo Smith succinctly put the case in 1890: 'It is scarcely possible that by taking the dregs of Europe we shall produce a people of high social intelligence and morality.'

    What followed was a nativist campaign vilifying immigrants: Italians were a criminal element. Jews were subversives...Demonization was critical to the nativist agenda.

    The specifics changed with the times and the targets but the nature remained the same."

    And the fundamental nature of anti-immigrant prejudice remains the same now as it was then, even though Mexicans and Muslims have now replaced the Jews and Italians of a century and more ago as the objects of vilification and hatred by immigration restrictionsts today.

    For anyone who is willing to to pay even the slightest attention to America's immigration history, there is nothing new under the sun in Donald Trump's immigration agenda.
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards.

    Roger's practice is focused primarily on H-1B specialty occupation, O-1 extraordinary ability and J-1 trainee visas; and on green cards through Labor Certification and through opposite sex or same sex marriage. His email address is

    Updated 10-06-2017 at 03:29 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. What if the Las Vegas Mass Killer Had Been a Muslim Immigrant? Would Trump be Calling for Closed Borders and Muslim Internment? Roger Algase

    As opinion writer Moustafa Bayoumi points out in his telling October 4 article in The Guardian, when a Middle Eastern (or US citizen) Muslim engages in mass murder, he or she is automatically called a terrorist by the media. However when a white American does the same thing, as in the horrific Las Vegas shooting massacre which has taken 59 lives so far and injured more than 500 people, the perpetrator is referred to as a "Lone Wolf".

    In the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, which took the lives of 14 people, then presidential candidate Trump called for a "complete shutdown" on immigration to the US by Muslims worldwide in retaliation. As president, he has at least made a beginning toward that objective with his first seven and later six Muslim country entry ban executive orders, all in the ostensible name of national security and protecting the safety of the American people.

    After that shooting, Trump even suggested that he might have supported the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2, one of the most shameful episodes in all of America's history, in an obvious reference to the possibility of interning American Muslims, which some of his supporters and other commentators have also suggested could happen one day.

    But what was the president's reaction to this latest most horrendous mass shooting that America has ever faced to date, committed by a white, non-Muslim US citizen? After a hastily staged minute of silence, Trump's reaction was, essentially, ho-hum, sorry we can't do anything - of course, forget about gun control; that's totally off the table, and let's move on to the next item (at the golf course, maybe, or perhaps just tweaking the latest Muslim ban executive order some more to try to pass muster with the Supreme Court)?

    Double standard, anyone?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 10-04-2017 at 09:26 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Lesson From P.R. and Las Vegas: When Will Trump Stop Scapegoating Immigrants and Focus on Aiding and Protecting Americans Instead? Roger Algase

    What is the biggest lesson that we can learn from the horrible shooting massacre in Las Vegas by an evidently deranged white, native-born American citizen who might never had access to a weapon if America had the kind of gun control laws that the Democrats and much of the American public have been clamoring for a very long time - laws which have been vigorously opposed by a president who has been obsessed instead with keeping Muslim students, skilled workers grandparents and refugees out of the US?

    It is the same lesson that we learned last week when the president dragged his feet in sending military and other federal assistance to Puerto Rico to help its 3 million American citizens deal with the worst national disaster in that US Commonwealth's entire history, even as his DHS had been spending time and resources in rounding up almost 500 immigrants nationwide, including 317 people charges mainly with minor crimes, such as 86 alleged DUI offenders (see my October 2 Immigration Daily blog comment).

    It is a very simple lesson: Scapegoating immigrants by blaming them for all of America's security, crime and economic problems (as, in the latter case, by the president's "Hire American" attack on the H-1B visa and other employment-based immigration programs while he seeks to deprive millions of Americans of essential health insurance in order to pay for tax cuts for billionaires) is not benefiting the American people, as Trump promised it would.

    To the contrary, it is distracting America from this country's real problems. If there is any doubt about this, I would suggest asking the grieving family members of the 59 people, who were killed in Las Vegas (not to mention the more than 500 victims who were injured, some of them critically) in a shooting which a government that really cared about protecting its citizens, as opposed to demonizing Muslim, Latino, Asian and black immigrants, would most likely have been able to prevent through effective gun control laws.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 10-03-2017 at 09:38 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Citizens will be subject to the new DHS social media searches too, not just aliens. By Nolan Rappaport

    Homeland Security searching some social media doesn't violate privacy.
    By Nolan Rappaport

    © Getty

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has posted a new rule on the Federal Register which authorizes adding information from an alien’s social media sites to the files that are kept in his/her official immigration records, such as “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.”

    The official immigration records are known as “A-Files.”

    The social media sites will be searched for information which pertains to granting aliens a visa or some other type of immigration benefit, and this almost certainly will lead to social media searches of the American citizens and lawful permanent residents who sponsor them.

    For instance, if a citizen files a visa petition to accord immediate relative status to his alien spouse, and information on the spouse’s Facebook site indicates that the marriage is a sham, DHS will search the citizen petitioner’s Facebook site for additional information to assist in determining whether the marriage really is a sham.

    But the most important reason is to identify terrorists, and this is the reason that prompted 26 senators to ask DHS to search social media sites after the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

    Social media sites provide a record of contacts with terrorist organizations.


    Published initially on The Hill.

    About the author.Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.

    Updated 10-02-2017 at 05:34 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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