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    by , 09-16-2008 at 08:56 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    When the cable news shows are talking about it, you know something's up. In July, USCIS began requiring female immigrants between 11 and 26 to get a vaccine to prevent the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that is usually sexually transmitted. The agency discussed this new requirement in a recent public forum:Question: There is some concern among both CBOs and civil surgeons regarding the new requirement on the I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to receive the HPV vaccine. Is the HPV vaccine recommended or required? If required, who is required to take the vaccine? Also, are applicants required to just take the initial dose for the purposes of the I-693, or must they complete the series?

    Response: The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is one of several new age-specific required vaccinations that have been added to the Technical Instructions for Vaccination for civil surgeons conducting medical examinations of aliens. These newly added vaccination requirements, effective July 1, 2008, were a result of recommendations from the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and are required for persons to be medically cleared for adjustment of status. As a reminder, Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control have the regulatory authority to set the requirements for our medical exams and we are bound to these requirements. As such, any vaccination recommendation made by the ACIP for persons living within the U.S. becomes a requirement for immigrants.

    The HPV vaccine is required for females ages 11 through 26 years of age. As with all the vaccinations, because completion of a vaccine series often takes several months, applicants are currently not required to complete a series before being medically cleared to proceed with adjustment of status. They must, however, complete as many doses as was medically appropriate at the time the medical exam was conducted and are encouraged to follow-up with their primary physicians at a later date to finish any series. Further information and updates on the required medical exam and vaccines can be accessed at's the big deal? Well, I won't get in to the issues of whether the vaccine has had complications. Though there have been complaints, let's just assume that the drug is, on the whole, a good one that will deliver important public health benefits.

    The more serious argument is probably the one involving costs. The one HPV vaccine available, Merck's Gardasil, costs $162 per dose and three shots are required. It's the most expensive vaccine on the market today and if you don't have insurance, you're talking about almost $500. That's a new cost that can be a serious impediment to many thinking about filing for permanent residency.

    While I generally support the notion that immigrants should not be subsidized in terms of covering the costs of processing their immigration applications, this seems to be excessive. Perhaps the compromise would be for the US government to buy up the drug and use its buying power to command a substantial discount and then offer the vaccine at a discount.

    Second, the drug has apparently caused numerous complications, though I don't think there is serious disagreement that on the whole

    by , 09-16-2008 at 08:38 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)

    While the world's attention was focused on the scary news yesterday on Wall Street, there was some hopeful news on another front. Researchers made an exciting announcement about breast cancer research. According to the BBC:
    A new vaccine has completely eliminated a type of breast cancer tumour in tests on mice, say researchers.

    The vaccine targets breast cancer caused by an excess of a protein
    called HER2 - and even destroyed tumours resistant to current drugs.

    The US team said it might also be used to prevent initial development of the tumours in cancer-free women. The lead US researcher was Taiwanese-born Professor Wei Zen-Wei of Wayne State University in Michigan. This is exciting news, though there is much research to be done before the benefits are fully realized. Congratulations, Professor Zen-Wei!

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    by , 09-16-2008 at 01:57 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Some readers have emailed me expressing their disappointment that effectively endorsed John McCain in its editorial in today's Immigration Daily:
    If we get President Obama, Democrats are going to be euphoric on Jan 20,
    2009, and rightly so - being back in the White House, at last, after 8 long
    and bitter years. Democrats have not been able to pursue their priorities
    for 8 years and we can expect them to act aggressively on their big
    priorities immediately after a President Obama takes office. There are at
    least four Democratic priorities ahead of immigration: the Iraq war,
    universal health care, budget/taxes and energy policy. These are all large,
    complex issues and Congress will take most of a President Obama's first term
    to work on these. In such a scenario, we will not see any significant
    immigration benefits in the foreseeable future.

    If we get President McCain, we will still have a powerful Democratic
    majority in Congress on Jan 20, 2009. This Congress will be at loggerheads
    with him on all the major Democratic priorities. Democrats will want to
    bring the troops home whereas Mr. McCain wants them in Iraq for 100 years;
    Democrats see a health care crisis whereas Mr. McCain sees none; Democrats
    will want increased taxes whereas Mr. McCain would like to cut them;
    Democrats want to conserve oil and work on alternative sources of power
    whereas Mr. McCain would like to drill for oil all over the map. Democrats
    and a President McCain will be 180 degrees apart on all major Democratic
    priorities. In this bitter fighting hardly anything will get done
    legislatively, and both Democrats and Mr. McCain will be looking for
    opportunities to show the country that they can work on something together.

    While there are a few areas of agreement between Mr. McCain and
    immigration is the largest issue on which Democrats and McCain agree.
    the current Republican Party platform is the most anti-immigrant one in
    memory, there were news reports that Mr. McCain, who has a long track
    of being pro-immigration, tried to make it more immigration-friendly
    failed. This is the issue on which he is most likely to stab his
    anti-immigrationist wing in the back both in his political interests
    and due to
    his own convictions (Mr. McCain had to fight his party's
    anti-immigrationists tooth and nail during the Republican primaries).
    We expect to see almost all of the original
    McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain

    The Bush era has been the worst in memory for immigration advocates. However
    the combination of a powerful Democratic majority in Congress with Mr.
    McCain as President offers the best hope for speedily obtaining desperately
    needed immigration benefits. I strongly disagree with this conclusion. While I think that in their hearts, both McCain and Obama are pro-immigration, I do not agree with the editorial's conclusion that McCain will reach across the aisle and push through a reform bill in order to show he can get something done.

    First, it's not clear that he would even try. During this presidential campaign, he had the opportunity to reach out to Democrats and choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Instead, he chose a candidate designed to appeal to his base. When governing, the same pressures will exist.

    Second, Democrats are not likely to cut McCain very much slack in general and McCain will need to maintain strong allies in his party in order to have any hope of moving his agenda along. I very much doubt he'll alienate them when he'll be governing from a weak position from day one.

    Third, McCain will not want to be seen as flip-flopping yet again and reversing his position that he wants to pass enforcement legislation first. He has already lost a great deal of credibilty by abandoning his earlier support of immigration reform and to reverse again will be impossible to defend as anything other than an admission that he lied to get elected.

    As for Obama, as I noted the other day, if he wins it will probably be because of the Hispanic vote. And he'll have only one way he'll be able to pay back that community - with a push for immigration reform. He stated in the party platform that he would pass immigration reform in the first year. The McCain platform didn't even endorse immigration reform, much less commit to a timetable. Obama also knows that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has blocked popular immigration bills in the current session of Congress as a protest against not moving comprehensive reform legislation and they could very well expand that effort to block the new President Obama's broader legislative agenda if he turns his back on his promise. My guess is that Obama will turn to immigration reform almost immediately and get this issue out of the way.

    The editorial's statement that immigration is not a major issue for the Democrats is simply incorrect. It is likely to be THE issue that gets Obama elected. And it is likely to be the toughest issue he'll have to address. That's why he's likely to deal with it during his honeymoon period rather than wait on it to come up in the middle of his term when he'll be thinking about re-election. Hispanic voters are going to be absolutely critical to Obama getting a second term - probably even more so than this year.

    If immigration is your number one issue, I think Obama is the better candidate.

    by , 09-16-2008 at 01:03 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    This is really something. Nursing unions are trying to block a bill to allow more visas for nurses despite a massive shortage that exists TODAY and which is endangering patients NOW and is instead pressuring Congress to reject the bill in favor of measures that MIGHT produce more nurses SEVERAL YEARS IN THE FUTURE.

    It's fine to say that steps need to be taken to get more Americans to go in to nursing or return to nursing. I suspect that this is less about patients and more about money. The worse the nursing shortage, the more money unions can command at the bargaining table. If this were really about trying to help American nurses, there would be no object to nurses coming in on at least non-immigrant visas during the multi-year period it would take to increase the domestic supply of nurses. But guess what? These same unions are opposing work visa bills as well as green cards.

    These unions need to explain why their proposal is not endangering patients during the period when their plan is being implemented (which will likely last ten years or more in my opinion).

    Unions opposing HR 5924 - Get more Business Documents

    by , 09-16-2008 at 12:43 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    Buried in the State Department Visa Bulletin I linked to a couple of days ago was an announcement that the bar on Russians using the program would be ended and Kosovo will be listed as an independent country. The entry period will be from October 2, 2008 to December 1, 2008.
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