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  1. SENATE COMMITTEE VOTES TO REPLACE REAL ID LAW

    by , 07-29-2009 at 08:41 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted today to scrap the controversial REAL ID law which will require states to begin implementing tough new standardized technology requirements for drivers licenses in just a few months. A number of states have rebelled against the requirements and they risk their licenses not being accepted for federal purposes - including boarding airplanes. The measure that passed today is called the PASS ID bill and would extend deadlines and provide more government funds to help in the transition. From Govexec:A Senate panel approved legislation today that would establish
    federal security standards for driver's licenses and identification
    cards, including a $150 million grant program to help states digitize
    birth records.The bill creating the PASS ID program, approved by the Senate
    Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by voice vote,
    will require states to issue driver's licenses that are compliant with
    federal standards by 2016. States will have to show they are moving
    toward compliance by 2011.The bill is intended to replace the 2005 REAL ID law, which federal
    and state officials roundly criticized as unworkable. It is expected to
    be brought to the Senate floor soon, as it needs to be enacted by
    December in order to repeal looming deadlines under REAL ID.Details of the bill were negotiated in recent days by Senate
    Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman
    and ranking member Susan Collins, along with Sens. Daniel Akaka,
    D-Hawaii, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
  2. H-1B Visa Usage On The Decline: Is It The Economy Or Increased USCIS Scrutiny Or Something More?

    by , 07-29-2009 at 11:42 AM (The H-1B Visa Blog by Siliato and Malyk)
    For the first time in recent memory, USCIS has been reporting an actual decline in the H-1B count from previous weeks. For example, as of July 10, 2009, USCIS reported a total count of 44,900 against the 65,000 cap limit, 900 less than the cap count of 45,800 at the end of May. At first blush, this may be seen as nothing more than a computational error on the part of USICS.  But this is not the case. According to USCIS, the number of withdrawals of H-1B petitions, combined with denials and revocations, has actually exceeded the number of new H-1B filings in recent weeks.  Is this development just a function of the economy or is it more on account of the recent "Just say NO" climate becoming more and more pervasive with USCIS Service Centers, ostensibly to protect U.S. workers? Perhaps it is a little of both--in addition to something else which is just as troubling.
    Given the rash of RFEs being issued by the USCIS adjudicators regarding H-1Bs for IT consultants (see our last H-1B Visa Blog post immediately below), it comes as no surprise that H-1B employers are withdrawing petitions already pending.  And with unemployment across the country fast approaching double digits, it is also not surprising that H-1B usage in general is down.  But what is perhaps the most troubling factor in the declining number of H-1B petitions filed under the cap is the recent trend of large IT companies shifting more jobs to low-cost destinations such as India, China and Mexico, a factor which may be attributed at least in part to the Service's over-scrutinizing of the limited temporary work visa programs like the H-1B.  In other words, the U.S. government's efforts to "protect U.S. jobs" apparently has backfired by the systematic relocation of business from the United States to locations abroad.
    As reported in a recent article in Hindu Business Line, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) did not file a single H-1B petition for the current USCIS fiscal year starting October 1, 2009.  TCS, which already has around 18,000 employees with valid H1B visas, has instead chosen to relocate over 1,000 employees from the United States (and other locations) to India last quarter to increase offshore revenues. According to TCS, returning U.S. based employees to India is beneficial for TCS, its clients and its employees. By shifting the work offshore, TCS claims that it is better suited to deliver a reduction in the customer's overall costs while achieving higher profit margins for the company. 
    As a result of the H-1B "crackdown", a recent Computer World article predicts that more and more Indian IT firms will look to alternate locations to the United States, including Mexico, which are more immigration friendly and less costly.
    Hence the query: Is this downward trend of H-1B usage an aberration or will we see this trend continue?  Most assuredly, a confluence of factors have contributed to the recent trend--a struggling economy, compounded by the current naysayer attitude of USCIS and the fact that the United States is becoming less and less attractive to an immigrant workforce that has historically helped to stimulate our economy.  While there is little doubt that we can expect some increase in H-1B usage as our economy recovers, there is no doubt that the United States has lost some of its glitter to the best and brightest of the world.  Now prospects are becoming dimmer for highly skilled professional immigrants under the H-1B program.
    Regardless of the empirical data upon which one relies, it is undisputed that the shifting of nonimmigrant personnel offshore is a damaging blow to our overall economic recovery and to the United States' dominance in the areas of medicine, science, engineering and technology.  One such set of data is set forth in a recent position paper published by the Harvard Business School which finds that invention increases with higher H-1B admission levels. In finding that the H-1B visa program for temporary workers has played an important role in U.S. innovation patterns and technological commercialization over the last 15 years, the authors conclude that the H-1B program is a matter of significant policy importance and that  "total invention increases with higher admission levels primarily through the direct contributions of immigrant inventors".  It naturally follows that, as invention and innovation are on the rise, so are employment opportunities for U.S. workers.  This begs the question that if we cede to certain isolationist sentiments and ideas in the name of "protecting U.S. workers," are we simply cutting off our nose to spite our face?
    The U.S. scientific, engineering, and technology industries cannot expect to maintain their present position of international leadership if we continue to create legislative and administrative obstacles that discourage the hiring and retention of highly educated foreign talent. We also cannot hope to grow our economy and create more jobs if we are ceding leadership in innovation to other nations.  Indeed, Google, one of the most innovative companies in the world, has said that it could not develop its innovations in the United States without the assistance of the H-1B workers program. In a hearing last year before the House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Laszlo Block, Vice President for People Operations at Google, testified, "If U.S. employers are unable to hire those who are graduating from our universities, foreign competitors will."
    Comprehensive immigration reform is clearly necessary with a realization by Congress that current restrictions on high skill immigration are counterproductive.  Otherwise, not only will some of the best graduates of our universities, and highly qualified scientists and researchers of the world, have no choice to live and work elsewhere, but more and more U.S. companies may follow the lead of IT consulting companies and vacate the United States to set up facilities offshore--all of which, of course, does not bode well for the health of our national economy.
    For additional information and frequent updates on a variety of employment-based immigration law issues, please click here to navigate to Meyner and Landis LLP's Corporate Immigration Law News Blog.
    Post Authored By: Anthony F. Siliato, Esq. and Scott R. Malyk, Esq. of Meyner and Landis LLP

     
  3. Jul 30 - ABA Membership Shrinking

    -----------------IMMIGRATION DAILY FROM ILW.COM------------------
    July 30, 2009
    http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/digest/2009,0730.shtm
    Items:
    1.  Comment: ABA Membership Shrinking
    2.  Focus: Today Is The Deadline For Withholding And Reporting
    3.  Articles:
        (a) Consular Corner: July 2009 by Liam Schwartz
        (b) Migration, Markets, And Governments by Stephen Davies for
        the Foundation For Economic Education
        (c) Bloggings On Immigration Law And Policy by Greg Siskind
    4.  News:
        (a) Library Of Congress Comparative Report On Passport And
        Visa Requirements
    5.  Classifieds:
        (a) Case Management Technology
    6.  Headlines:
        (a) Immigration Agendas Hidden
        (b) Push For Immigration Reform Shouldn't Wait
        (c) Illegal Immigration: A Victimless Crime?
        (d) Utah Law Firm Indicted In Case Of Visa Fraud
    7.  ComingsNGoings:
        (a) New Offices - New Orleans, LA
    8.  Letters From:
        (a) David D. Murray, Esq.
        (b) Honza Prchal, Esq.
        (c) Olga
        (d) Jim Roberts
    http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/digest/2009,0730.shtm
    |+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|
    Books On Immigration Law: http://www.ilw.com/store/
    Immigration Law Seminars: http://www.ilw.com/seminars/
    Classifieds: http://www.ilw.com/corporate/advertise_on_ilw.shtm
    Advertise: http://www.ilw.com/corporate/advertise.shtm
    |+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|+|
    _________________________________________________________________
    1.  COMMENT
    ABA Membership Shrinking
    According to a story in law.com,
    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202432537479&thepage=1
    the ABA, which already represents less than half of the attorneys
    in the US, is shrinking even further. The report says: "The
    association is tracking member revenue on a daily basis and so
    far expects a decline of between 2,000 and 4,000 members this
    year, [the ABA President] said in an interview. That's down from
    408,000 at the end of the last fiscal year on Aug. 31, 2008."
    This recession is a challenging time for all, as witness to which
    point: at a recent immigration non-profit workshop in NYC, we
    heard reports that these non-profits were cutting salaries and
    laying off staff, just like law firms. While the ABA's problems
    are understandable, there is an irony for immigration-related
    organizations, whether law firms or non-profits, in that Congress
    is closer than it has ever been in this decade to passing a large
    benefits bill, and it is difficult for many to hold the line, or,
    in some cases, even to hold on. For those who can hang in there,
    better days may be just a few months away.
    We welcome readers to share their opinion and ideas with us by
    writing to mailto:editor@ilw.com.
    _________________________________________________________________
    2.  FOCUS
    Today Is The Deadline For Withholding And Reporting
    Wednesday, July 29th is the deadline for the Thursday, July 30th
    phone session of "US Tax Compliance", the curriculum is as
    follows:
    ++Why special withholding rules apply to NRAs
    ++What special wage-withholding rules can apply
    ++When FICA exceptions apply
    ++Who can claim tax treaty benefits
    ++What special reporting rules apply
    ++What the IRS is looking for on audits
    Wednesday, June 29th is the deadline to sign up. For more info,
    including speaker bios, detailed curriculum, and registration
    information, please see: Online:
    http://www.ilw.com/seminars/200916.shtm. Fax form:
    http://www.ilw.com/seminars/200916.pdf. Don't delay, sign up
    today.
    _________________________________________________________________
    3.  ARTICLES
    (a) Consular Corner: July 2009
    Liam Schwartz shares 9 visa interview pet peeves.
    http://www.ilw.com/articles/2009,0730-schwartz.shtm
    http://www.lsa-law.com/indexen.html
    (b) Migration, Markets, And Governments
    Stephen Davies for the Foundation For Economic Education writes
    "Migration, the movement and resettlement of people, is one of
    the universals of history."
    http://www.ilw.com/articles/2009,0730-davies.shtm
    http://fee.org/
    (c) Bloggings On Immigration Law And Policy
    Greg Siskind writes "While I think the US immigration system is
    badly broken and we are wasting tremendous resources fighting the
    wrong battles, I have a deep respect for those in the US Border
    Patrol who are acting in service to their country and often
    putting their safety at risk."
    http://www.ilw.com/articles/2009,0730-siskind.shtm
    http://fee.org/
    To submit an Article for consideration, write to
    mailto:editor@ilw.com
    _________________________________________________________________
    4.  NEWS
    (a) Library Of Congress Comparative Report On Passport And Visa
    Requirements
    The Library of Congress provides a comparative analysis of
    passport and visa identification requirements for Argentina,
    Australia, Bahamas, France, Germany, India, Iran, Israel,
    Lebanon, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom,
    and Zambia.
    http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/news/2009,0730-passport.pdf
    _________________________________________________________________
    5.  CLASSIFIEDS
    (a) Case Management Technology
    Offering enterprise-level software and unparalleled US-based
    support, TrackerCorp
    http://www.trackercorp.com
    is the most flexible and dependable immigration management
    solution on the market today. Designed by immigration attorneys
    and paralegals, ImmigrationTracker is often praised for its ease
    of use, intuitive features, and built-in immigration knowledge.
    As one of our customers noted, "If we had two years and unlimited
    funds to design our ideal immigration management system, Tracker
    would be it."  Phil Curtis, Chin & Curtis.  Find out for yourself
    why Tracker is the choice of: 83% of practicing Past Presidents
    of the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association, through
    June 2007); 86% of the 25 largest immigration law firms (IndUS
    Business Journal 2006); 75% of the AmLaw 200 (largest US law
    firms, American Lawyer Media, 2006); 3x as many globally ranked
    immigration attorneys as compared with other software vendors
    (Chambers Global and the International Who's Who of Business
    Immigration Lawyers, 2007). Schedule your private demo: Call
    1-888-466-8757 ext. 278 or email mailto:sales@trackercorp.com.
    _________________________________________________________________
    6.  Headlines
    (a) Immigration Agendas Hidden
    I recognize and I think understand how immigrants and those close
    to them react strongly against what they perceive as racial bias
    and intolerable intolerance of immigrants.
    (b) Push For Immigration Reform Shouldn't Wait
    With the Democrats in firm control of Congress and the White
    House, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is serving as point person for
    immigration reform and is showing no indication of wasting time.
    (c) Illegal Immigration: A Victimless Crime?
    Is Illegal Immigration a victimless crime? Not hardly.
    (d) Utah Law Firm Indicted In Case Of Visa Fraud
    A federal indictment brought Tuesday against a local immigration
    attorney and his associates came as no surprise to the community
    of people who work as advocates for Utah's immigrant population.
    For links to the above stories see here:
    http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/digest/2009,0730.shtm#Headlines
    _________________________________________________________________
    7.  ComingsNGoings
    Readers can share professional announcements (up to 100-words at
    no charge), email: mailto:editor@ilw.com. To announce your event,
    see here http://www.ilw.com/corporate/media_sponsor.shtm
    (a) New Offices - New Orleans, LA
    As of August 1st, 2009, The Law Offices of Brenda J. DeArmas
    Ricci's new address will be: Poydras Street, Suite 2375, Poydras
    Tower, New Orleans, LA 70130.
    _________________________________________________________________
    8.  LETTERS
    Readers can share comments, email: mailto:editor@ilw.com  (up to
    300-words). Past correspondence is available in our archives
    http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/archives.shtm
    (a) Dear Editor:
    Robert N. Gottfried's letter (07/29/2009 ID) reveals he has never
    seen a US worker employed based on a labor certification ad. Only
    once in 30 years did I have an employer who hired an ad
    respondent, and in addition, they hired the alien. There now is
    such a shortage of qualified personnel, the same employer wants
    to know if we can run the same labor certification ad in various
    cities throughout the US, not tied to labor certification. While
    amidst this current recession, there may be severe unemployment
    in some geographic areas, and in some occupations, there are
    shortages in others, particularly in fields that require
    experience. Unemployed high school graduates do not normally
    compete for labor certification jobs. I don't understand what Mr.
    Gottfried's letter means that the DOL should "determine if there
    is a labor shortage for a particular position in a given
    geographic area". Is that not what they have always done and
    continue to do now? Experienced immigration lawyers know the
    labor certification process is a sham, designed by the government
    to placate unions and make the general public feel DOL is taking
    a strong stance to insure American jobs. This is not the case.
    Instead, the labor certification process is a mish-mash of
    nonsensical burdensome rules and procedures that in the end
    correctly certifies the vast majority of jobs, costing US
    employers an arm and a leg and much frustration and delay. The
    entire concept of labor certification has proven useless and
    should be abolished. If Americans were truly seeking jobs that
    needed protection, there would be no jobs for illegals.
    Employment based visa quotas should be raised substantially and
    the free market system to which Robert Yang's letter so often
    refers should be allowed to work in America. Forget CIR, focus on
    legal immigration
    David D. Murray, Esq.   Newport Beach, CA
    (b) Dear Editor:
    Mr. Latour's 7/23/09 ID letter's point acknowledging benefits and
    costs in each side's arguments is excellent, but the fault not
    one-sided. I have spoken at meetings of Minutemen where most of
    the audience agrees that we need to make it easier to come in
    legally than illegally once I am done speaking. For that matter,
    most bureaucratic "antis" are less likely to be bigots than
    people responding to perverse institutional incentives in my
    experience. The sort of people most likely to get air-time on the
    anti-immigration side are generally going to be a tad more
    stringent. In my experience their opposite numbers exist among
    law and journalism school denizens who want to explain every
    phenomenon in terms of race or, more rarely but worse, class
    struggle. TI admit to the John Hendersons of the world that
    illegal aliens create a general atmosphere of lawlessness that
    breed camera-grabbing responses like Sheriff Arpaio's, but let us
    be honest in acknowledging the benefits of even the illegals. As
    Mr. Latour's letter put it, one cannot weigh policy without
    taking both costs and benefits into account. For every illegal
    claiming government benefits, there is a slew performing useful
    services at market prices and paying some sort of lucre (sales
    tax, property tax, license fees, even income tax) into the
    government fisc. Yes, as Mr. Murray's letter stated (07/28/09 ID)
    the law is the law, but American immigration law makes our income
    tax law or health-care regulations seem clear and
    fair.Unfortunately, I am starting to fear that the odds of
    systematic reform of the clunky system in the next three years
    are as high as those of the latest recall petition filed against
    Sheriff Joe, who is at any given time sure to be holding several
    of my clients in custody.
    Honza Prchal, Esq.    Birmingham, AL
    (c) Dear Editor:
    Finally, ID showed their true colors - by using DailyKos, of all
    sources, for an entry in the ID headline news "NRA Goes To Bat
    For Illegal Alien Coke Dealers." (Jul 29, 2009). It is telling
    that ID did not even bother to read the actual NRA letter instead
    completely relying on the DailyKos "analysis" of it. I believe ID
    would have better served its readership by posting the actual
    letter but that is probably too much to ask from the news
    organization that completely abandoned any resemblance of
    unbiased information provider quite a while ago. My hope springs
    eternal.
    Olga                Reston, VA
    (d) Dear Editor:
    Rather than an attempt at: "Striking a Balance Between
    Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties" (7/29/09 ID
    comment), the Police Foundation Report is yet another blatant
    propaganda piece, poorly disguised as the result of a neutral
    forum by selected, biased and PC correct persons to arrive at an
    pre-determined conclusion - to reduce or eliminate effective
    illegal entry enforcement by police at the local level. Most
    front line police support the inquiry of legal status upon
    probable cause and the 287(g) program and a good number of them
    as well as citizens would be alive today if fully implemented.
    With regards to the R. Algase letter (7/29/09 ID), why is Rev.
    McDonald a "decent American" with "courage" and Sheriff Arpaio of
    AZ a "racist psychopathic bully" for enforcing the laws, just
    because RA falsely labels them so?  Most unbiased persons would
    reverse these descriptions and use less extreme language which is
    why Sheriff Joe is continually re-elected and such futile recall
    efforts as Rev. RM always fail. The RA letter also errs and
    misleads in concluding that my racial neutral comment ( 7/28/09
    ID) regarding "gated communities" referred to a "whites only" one
    and the "entire US" as well. Does the RA letter claim that
    opening "the gates" to "brown people" and others will have no
    "environmental, economic or cultural effect"?  Why do such
    advocates believe that the "white" population should be
    drastically diluted by unwise mass entry policies?  Will the
    latter then advocate for the "white" minority? As I last stated,
    such extreme views and obvious exaggerations, if not
    prevarications, do nothing for the immigration cause and only
    creates confusion, conflict and chaos which seems to be the
    purpose of some advocates.
    Jim Roberts
    _________________________________________________________________
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  4. THE GOP'S LAST CHANCE

    by , 07-29-2009 at 06:09 AM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    The fact that the GOP has no clear plan to win the election next year other than hoping President Obama fails so miserably that people will feel no choice but to vote Republican became more apparent yesterday. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 6 to confirm Judge Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice. And only one Republican voted in favor of the nomination. The GOP got shellacked by Hispanic voters last year - losing 3 out of 4 votes compared to getting nearly half of those votes in 2004. And political analysts are in general agreement that the loss of so many Hispanic voters cost the GOP dearly both in the congressional and presidential races last year. Some even credit this shift in votes to giving Obama the electoral votes to win the White House. So one would think that the GOP would be scrambling to win some of those voters back. They certainly were sending the opposite message yesterday when they overwhelmingly opposed the well-qualified Sotomayor who will become the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. They didn't help by declining invitations to attend the annual La Raza conference, an absence being noted in the Hispanic media.The last major litmus test for the GOP on an issue Hispanic voters will be watching is the vote on immigration reform that will come later this year or early next year.  It is far from clear whether any GOP members of Congress have shifted their views yet. But what is clear is that the Hispanic community is starting to become a reliable Democratic bloc of voters and as the nation's fastest growing ethnic group, the GOP can't survive as a national party without them.
  5. HARVARD GRAD FACES DEPORTATION

    by , 07-28-2009 at 03:45 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)

    The Boston Globe reports on another case of a potential DREAM Act recipient facing deportation. Alan, the individual who is the subject of the story, is the son of Mexican migrant laborers, came to the US as an infant and his academic success has been an inspiration to children in his neighborhood. Like many others, he did not learn he was illegally present in the US until he was much older - in this case, high school. The Globe notes that Alan is going to leave the US:


    Now Alan sees Mexico as his only option. His mother is against it: Alan barely knows his relatives there, and he has no professional connections. It is unclear whether Mexico's elite would welcome him, even if he is a Harvard man.
    A maxim he learned at Harvard often runs through his mind: To whom much is given, much is expected. He has $15,000 in loans he intends to repay.
    "I should be able to take care of myself,'' he said. "I don't want to go home and sit on my butt and watch SportsCenter. If I do that, then these last four years have been a waste.''
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