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According to a report at Bender's Immigration Bulletin, US Federal Judge Lawrence McKenna has refused to certification two classes seeking to sue USCIS and force adjudication of naturalization cases in time for voting in the November election. The judge held that Congress an FBI background check to be completed and it does not require the check be completed in any particular time period.
By now you've probably heard the inspirational and gripping story of Lopez Lomong, the Sudanese-born US mid-distance runner who entered the US as a refugee. Tonight he will receive one of the greatest honors accorded an American athlete when he carries the flag of the United States in front of all of our country's athletes in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Because the ceremonies are not being shown in the US for four hours, many of you may have already seen them. The picture on the left is from the event.
Lomong was one of the Sudanese "Lost Boys" who were separated from their parents in the conflict in Darfur and wandered for months facing hunger, attacks and disease. NBC Television tells his story:No prayer of survivalWhen Lomong was 6 years old, the
second son in a line of six children born to a farmer in the village of
Boya, Sudan was taken from his parents at gunpoint by the Janjaweed
government militia while attending Catholic Mass. He was to be trained
as a soldier, or starve to death. During three weeks of imprisonment,
he ate once a day, a mixture of sorghum and sand.
Run for the borderThree
older boys, all around age 14, had discovered a hole in the fence
surrounding the prison camp and decided to attempt and escape and to
bring Lomong with them. "They told me, 'You're going home', even though
they knew we weren't," Lomong said. "They said that so I would join
them. They were trying to save my life." For three days Lomong and his
friends ran toward safety in Kenya. When they reached the Kenyan
border, the three teens were too old to be accepted into a refugee
camp, were arrested and returned to Sudanese officials. Only Lomong was
granted refuge. "Anything I do in life, I put those guys in front,"
says Lomong, who cannot recall their names and has no idea if they
survived. "They were more than brothers to me."
Schooling sets him freeLomong
spent 10 years living in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya,
where he learned to write by drawing letters in the sand with his
finger. But that rudimentary education was enough to help earn him
liberation. "They told us that the U.S.A. wants to give 3,500 'Lost
Boys' homes," Lomong said. "They said if you want to come to America,
write an essay explaining why." For two nights Lomong and many of his
friends worked in silence. "I remember it felt like taking a test," he
said. "I just sat down, the whole of my mind emptied onto the paper. I
wrote some of it in Swahili, I wasn't even aware of it." One month later, his essay was chosen by the Joint Volunteer Agency, and he was on his way to America. Lomong is also on Team Darfur, the international group of athletes urging China to pressure Sudan to end the violence in Darfur. Earlier this week, I told how another member of Team Darfur, America's Joey Cheek, had his visa revoked as the Chinese attempted to suppress conversation on the topic. But Lomong's mere presence on billions of television sets will no doubt bring more prominence to the story.
Lopez is a serious contender for a medal in every mid-distance race from the 800 meters up to the 5 kilometer run. His best chances will be in the 1500 meter race.
Lopez, America is proud of you!
The dog days of summer have arrived. Congress is on a five-week holiday, er, excuse me, a "Summer District Work Period," as the House calls it. The economy is in the doldrums. Gross Domestic Product grew a feeble 1.9% in the second quarter of 2008 from 0.9% in the first quarter. Foreclosures and bankruptcies are on the rise. Homeowners face unaffordable energy bills for gas, home heating and electricity. Civilian unemployment in July rose to 5.7%, up from January's rate of 4.9%.
Amid the ashes of bad economic news, an immigration phoenix arises - the "Regional Center" program under the Employment-Creation EB-5 category for immigrants who invest $500,000 or $1 million in enterprises that directly or indirectly create at least 10 American jobs. According to Invest in the USA (IIUSA), an association of USCIS-approved regional centers, the EB-5 regional center program is estimated to create 400,000 new jobs through immigrants' investments of $20 billion over the next five years.
These jobs will be lost, however, because the Senate is in summer-snooze mode. The statutory provision authorizing the regional center program will sunset on September 30, unless Congress acts promptly. Expiration of regional-center program authorization will likely put a freeze on new I-526 approvals and designations of additional regional centers. More important, it will scare off potential EB-5 investors and new investment opportunities.
Before recessing, the House approved HR 5569, a five-year reauthorization of the EB-5 regional-center program. A companion bill in the Senate is mired in disagreement over renewal of the controversial E-Verify program (which does not expire until November 30) and horse-trading over bills on religious workers, the Conrad 30 J-1 doctor waiver program and family reunification.
The federal government worked weekends and took quick steps when Bear Stearns was set to collapse and when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac needed Uncle Sam's financial guarantees. Why doesn't the Senate get off its hammock and jumpstart economic growth by the simple, uncontroversial expedient of reviving the EB-5 regional-center legislation?
[Disclosure: With Steve Yale-Loehr and Nelson Mamey (a lawyer who prefers real estate finance and development over law practice), I own a recently approved regional center in Southern California.]
GOOAAALLLL! I wanted to get one more Immigrant of the Day in before the big day tomorrow in Beijing because an immigrant became the first American to score points in the 2008 Olympics. Some of you may not know that the men's and women's soccer matches actually already started and thanks to the fancy footwork of Scottish-born midfielder Stuart Holden, the US defeated Japan 1-0 in its opening match. When he's not scoring goals at the Olympics, Holden plays for Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo.
Incidentally, I squeezed an extra entry in today because of the breaking news on Mr. Holden and also because I'm saving a special honoree for tomorrow. I'm sure some of you can guess who that will be.
Ghana-born Freddy Adu is probably America's most famous green card lottery beneficiary. He immigrated with his family when he was eight. In just six years, he would become an international sensation when at the age of 14 years and seven months he was the youngest person since 1887 to sign a major league professional contract.
Freddy played three seasons for Major League Soccer's DC United and then a season for Real Salt Lake before playing the last two seasons in Europe. In 2003, Freddy became a US citizen, though he makes his Olympic debut this year. He played very well in the US Olympic qualifying games and if America earns a medal this year, Adu will likely play an important role.
Wanna see what Freddy can do? Watch this...