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  1. Reporting from the AILA 2011 Meeting in San Diego

    by , 06-16-2011 at 10:56 AM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Nearly 3000 immigration lawyers from around the US are attending the annual meeting of the American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting in San Diego and I'm here as I've been for the last 20 years. I spoke last night on a panel entitled 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Practicing Immigration Law. Of course, I could come up with a list a lot longer than that, but tried to pick a few that some of the younger lawyers out there might find helpful.
    I'm going to blog breaking news here and will start with live blogging a session I'm now attending with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.
    - He's telling several immigrant success stories and stressing the US as the world's beacon of light. President Obama is committed to keeping American safe while maintaining the spirit of our immigration history.
    - Aspirations of US immigration system in the hands of USCIS and how they exercise that care is of immense importance.
    - Proud of USCIS colleagues, but committed to addressing the challenges.
    - 150,000 customers reached through its engagements
    - Posting dozens of memoranda for public comment.
    - Posting on a quarterly basis statistics on receipts and approvals for various visa categories.
    - Hiring 19 additional AAO offices so appeals can go faster.
    - EB-5 - premium processing, interviews with expert panels coming soon
    - Direct real time contact between applicants and USCIS officials; potential for faster and easier adjudication of cases, but concerns about abuse. They'll be studying how this goes.
    - Less fortunate should have lesser access because they lack a lawyer.
    - USCIS will go mobile bringing computers and personnel to remote communities. AILA urged to provide pro bono representation to many of these individuals.
    - USCIS is committed to combatting unauthorized practice of immigration law; "historic, sustained effort" with many agencies cooperating. Slogan: "The Wrong Help Can Hurt".
    - Transformation - USCIS modernization program to move from paper to streamlined electronic system; I-539 coming in December. Faster this happens, the greater the efficiencies and the realization of tremendous savings.
    - Prioritization of protecting integrity of immigration system can co-exist with tradition of having a welcoming system.
    - Redesign of training system for officers. Enhance training of adjudicators on intent of the law and the standard of proof to be applied. Industry experts will advise officers. This will cut down on flawed Requests for Evidence. New templates being developed.
    - Kazarian memo to be discussed tomorrow in USCIS Open Forum.
  2. ICE Launches 1,000 I-9 Investigations Nationally

    by , 06-16-2011 at 10:18 AM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    More desktop raids. Those who think we don't enforce our immigration laws are just not paying attention.
  3. Bloggings: E-Verify - is it a Frankenstein, a Golem, or some other kind of out of control, destructive force? by Roger Algase

    The introduction of a bill, H.R. 2164, in the House of Representatives by Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, who has long been the scourge of immigrants, that would make E-Verify mandatory, with drastic criminal penalties for violations, raises a question about whether that program has turned into a Frankenstein, a Golem, or some other kind of out of control, destructive monster.
    Frankenstein, it will be remembered, was first introduced to the world in a novel written in the early 19th century by a young woman, Mary Shelley, when she was only 18, and it was published when she was 21. In the novel, Frankenstein, the scion of a wealthy family in Geneva, starts off as a seeker after knowledge but turns into an out of control monster.
    The word "Golem", on the other hand, goes back to the Bible and has a long history in Jewish legend and literature, with the general meaning of a shapeless lump. The most famous of all the Golem stories  is about a creature that was created by a saintly rabbi in 16th century Prague in order to protect the Jewish community from a pogrom, but which later turned on the people it was supposed to protect, causing widespread fear and destruction until it was finally "decomissioned" by its originator. Actually, it does not matter which one of these legends one compares E-Verify to. Either one will do. There are also many other monster traditions - Godzilla, for example, as well as examples of originally benevolent or not so benevolent spirits gone wild in almost any culture one can mention.
    Greek, Roman and ancient Near Eastern traditions are full of malevolent or at least highly unreliable and capricious gods, spirits, or demons. The same can be said of India, Ancient Egypt, East Asia, Africa, Mesoamerica and many other cultures. It is not my intention to be Eurocentric. However, it was a Roman poet, Virgil, who described the danger of letting uncontrollable powers loose as well as anyone else in his comment about Juno, queen of the gods: "tantaene animis celestibus irae?" ("Can heavenly spirits harbor such great anger?").
    Virgil's question might well apply to H.R. 2164, if one substitutes the Republicans in place of the heavenly spirits. E-Verify was originally introduced in 1997 as a pilot program by the federal government to assist employers in finding out whether their employees were authorized to work. In 2009, it was extended to federal contractors. The Obama administration has greatly expanded the program, which is now rapdly turning into the equivalent of a national ID, something that has always been incompatible with American ideals of privacy and individual freedom.
    The program has also been plagued by allegations that its database is inaccurate and gives a high percentage of false results to the effect that employees are allegedly not authorized to work when in fact they are. Because so many immigrants are Latino, E-Verify also creates a strong incentive for employers not to hire any Spanish-speaking or other minority workers at all, even US citizens, in order to avoid running afoul of the law.
    Beginning with Arizona's draconian employer sanctions law, which has just been upheld by the Supreme Court, and which was passed by a Republican legislature but signed by a Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, the current head of the Department of Homeland Security, and now continuing with H.R. 2164, the Republicans have sought to transform E-Verify from a tool to protect US jobs into an instrument of persecution against minority immigrants.
    Let us make no mistake about the Republicans' motives. The Republicans have no more interest in protecting American workers than the goddess Juno did in allowing Aeneas, a Trojan war refugee, to gain asylum in Italy. Republican state legislatures have gone on an **** of union busting in Wisconsin and other states. In Wisconsin, the Republicans have, at least for the moment, succeeded in depriving employees of public service unions of their collective bargaining rights. Republicans in Maine and Wisconsin have also, incredibly, weakened their states' child labor protection laws in an effort to take America back to the 19th century age of exploitation.
    Republicans have also been adamant in their opposition to raising the minimum wage and have passed anti-union "right to work" laws in many states they control, including southern states with a long history of both anti-union hostility and racial discrimination. How many workers' rights proposals has Congressman Smith himself supported in his career? I have not yet done a search, but the answer would most likely be none at all or very few.
    Republicans are now also trying to dismantle Medicare and Social Security, the two pillars of America's social safely net, both of which are of crucial importance to working people. No one should be taken in by the Republicans' hypocrisy in trying to put over their anti-immigrant agenda under the guise of protecting American workers. And where is the loudly advertised Republican/Tea Party program of "small government" and opposition to "burdensome, job killing" regulations on business in attempting to let the Frankenstein or Golem of E-Verify run rampant?
    However, it is all too easy to blame the Republicans alone for turning E-Verify into a Frankenstein, Golem or other kind of monster or malevolent spirit. But what about the people who created E-Verify in the first place? What about the people who allowed programs such as INA Section 287(g) and "Secure Communities" to turn into such monstrosities?
    When E-Verify was initiated in 1997, Bill Clinton was the president. This program, along with the two others I have mentioned, have had their widest expansion under Obama. The Republicans are merely taking up where the White House has left off. Like Frankenstein, the Golem and all the other uncontrollable forces from legends around the world,  E-Verify, Section 287(g) and "Secure Communities" now have an independent life of their own - as instruments of anti-immigrant fear and oppression. 
    As an aside, ID's June 15 editorial suggests that the DREAM Act might be added to H.R. 2164 as a "sweetener" to help push it hrough Congress. Let us hope so. But based on their recent immigration history, the Republicans do not have much of a record of doing sweeteners.
  4. Asylum for Mexican HR Activist Spotlights Problems in Mexico and the US

    Last week, the U.S. government granted asylum to Cipriana Jurado, a Mexican human rights activist who feared persecution by the Mexican army.  According to the Associated Press, Ms. Jurado's "friend and long-time human rights colleague Josefina Reyes was gunned down in Juarez in January."  Like Ms. Jurado, Ms. Reyes had campaigned against government and gang violence.  Not only was Ms. Reyes murdered-killed by unidentified gunmen-several members of her family were abducted.  Given the danger, it is not surprising that Ms. Jurado received asylum (not to minimize this accomplishment-only about 2% of asylum cases from Mexico are granted).  Ms. Jurado's case, I think, highlights problems in the United States and Mexico caused by the escalating violence across our border. 
    To paraphrase Mr. Franklin: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cocaine."
    First in Mexico: The blatant attacks against human rights workers points to a general disregard for the rule of law.  Has the army become just another gang in the on-going turf war?  Tens of thousands of people have died as a result of drug and gang violence.  The U.S. certainly bears some of the blame, since we are the main consumers of the drugs passing through Mexico and we are the source of most of the guns used in the violence across our Southern border.  Mexico needs to get control of the situation and we need to help.  We need to do more to prevent weapons from crossing the border.  Also, it wouldn't hurt to try something new in the "war on drugs."  Perhaps legalizing certain drugs would help reduce the involvement of criminal gangs, and consequently reduce violence.  The website Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has some good information on the potential benefits of legalizing some controlled substances.
    As for the U.S., if Northern Mexico becomes a failed state, the implications for us are pretty severe.  One fear is that increasing numbers of people will seek asylum in the United States.  The low grant rate for Mexican cases might change if-as in Ms. Jurado's case-the persecutor is the Mexican government (as opposed to criminal gangs, who currently do most of the persecuting across the border).  This fear may be mitigated by the fact that-unlike Ms. Jurado-most people persecuted by the Mexican government will likely be involved in criminal activities and thus ineligible for asylum (though still eligible for relief under the UN Convention Against Torture). 
    It seems to me that a border enforcement-only policy would betray our ideals of protecting bona fide refugees like Ms. Jurado.  We can't live up to our ideals simply by trying to keep people out who are fleeing persecution.  We need to work more on the prevention side of the equation.  If we succeed, we can help reduce the flow of refugees and improve the situation for our Southern neighbor.  
    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  5. EB-5 Risk Management Webinar


    Broad Oak Management, LLC and Todd Associates, Inc. will host a**60 minute webinar**to provide a brief introduction to risk management**and specialty insurance products for EB5 Regional Centers, Project Managers, Economists and Marketers. Our presentation will provide you with a basic understanding of the following:
    1. Identification of specific civil and regulatory risks to EB5 Regional Centers;
    2. Basic risk management and investment banking elements for limiting litigation and regulatory liability;
    3. Explanation of Insurable vs. Uninsurable Risk;
    4. Overview of specialty insurance products for EB5 Regional Centers.
    If you would like to register for our webinar, please click one of the following dates:
    1. Mon, June 27, 2011 2:00PM - 3:00 PM EDT
    2. Wed, July 13, 2011 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT
    If you have any questions regarding the webinar please contact David Souders at 440-461-1101 or John Braddock at 214-565-5075.
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