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Obama's parting shot at immigrants, via the Washington Post:
"The Obama administration tried to persuade the Supreme Court Tuesday to retain a federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.
If the justices agree, the outcome could help the incoming Trump administration fulfill its pledge to step up the deportation of immigrants who are convicted of crimes.
The justices heard argument in the administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down the law as unconstitutional. The case concerns a provision of immigration law that defines a “crime of violence.” Conviction for a crime of violence subjects an immigrant to deportation and usually speeds up the process.
It was unclear from the argument how the court would rule."
Click here for the full article.
The Refugee Ball took place on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. It was wonderful to see hundreds of people from all different backgrounds and countries come together to celebrate America's humanitarian immigration system.
Economist, talk show host, women's rights advocate, and amazing singer, Amal Nourelhuda (originally from Sudan), performs at the Refugee Ball.
There were musicians from Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tibet. There was a Persian rapper. Our emcee was a journalist/asylum seeker from Ethiopia. We had Lebanese, Tibetan, and Ethiopian food, and Syrian cookies. There was artwork by a young Honduran asylum seeker and an Iranian refugee. Speakers included the former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals (who now has his own blog), an asylee from Azerbaijan, and the president and CEO of HIAS, a non-profit organization that assists refugees. We also had a special guest appearance by Congressman Jamie Raskin. All-in-all, not a bad way to spend an evening.
One message of the Refugee Ball is that asylum seekers and refugees contribute in valuable ways to our society. They bring their skills and talents to America, and we are stronger because of their presence here. Also, by offering asylum to those who work with us and those who share our values, we demonstrate to our allies that we are on their side; that we have got their back. This makes it more likely that people around the world will cooperate with us and work to advance the values that our nation aspires to: Democracy, freedom of speech, women's rights, LGBT rights, freedom of religion, equality, peace. When we have the cooperation of our allies, our country is safer and more secure, and our asylum system helps engender that cooperation.
And of course, granting protection to those in need of assistance is the right thing to do. I know that if my family members had to flee the United States, I would want more than anything for them to receive a friendly reception in their country of refuge. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Another message of the Ball is that advocates for asylum seekers and refugees remain committed to assisting people who have come to our country for protection. And although the incoming Administration may create a more difficult environment for our clients, our commitment to those seeking our country's protection will not wane.
For me, though, the most important message of the Ball was that of the courage and perseverance displayed by the refugees and asylum seekers who I saw there. Many of the people who participated in the event were themselves victims of terrible torture and persecution. But there they were at the Ball--singing and dancing, giving speeches, making art and food for us to enjoy. Each of them provides an example of how the human spirit can survive extreme adversity and go on to create beauty, and of how life can triumph over death. I can't help but be inspired by their examples.
So while we really do not know what to expect in the days and months ahead, we can draw strength from each other, and from the examples set by the refugees and asylum seekers themselves, who have endured great hardships, but who still have hope that America will live up to the high ideals that we have set for ourselves.
To those who participated in, supported, and attended the Refugee Ball, Thank you. Thank you for contributing your time, talent, energy, and money to supporting the cause of refugees and asylum seekers. Thank you for inspiring me, and for reminding me of why I work as an asylum attorney. I feel optimistic knowing that we are united in our goal of welcoming the stranger, and that we are all in this together to support each other.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
This post has been updated on January 18 as of 9:30 am in order to reflect a late breaking POLITICO story.
POLITICO reports on the morning of January 18 that President-elect Trump, in a TV interview, has promised a more compassionate approach to immigration than mentioned during his campaign, including a merit-based system that gives priority to skilled workers. In Trump's words:
"We're going to have great people and people of great talent coming into our country...And we're going to have a lot of heart, believe me."
Trump specifically mentioned Silicon Valley companies who are moving to Canada because "they can't get the people they need...because we don't allow them into this country".
If the new president follows through on this plan, that would radically conflict with proposals that two of his closest immigration advisors, Senator Jeff Sessions and Breitbart News chief Stephen Bannon, have made to limit or drastically reduce H-1B, or even legal immigration in general, in order to accomplish a major demographic change back to the pre-1965 past, disguised as protecting American workers.
My original post appears below.
Proposals to restrict H-1B visas, perhaps even to the vanishing point, are not new. Neither are they limited to only one of our two parties.
As long ago as 2005, a Democratic Congressman, Bill Pascrell (NJ), introduced legislation (HR 4378), which, if it had become law, would have made drastic changes in the H-1B program in order to prevent it from, in Rep. Pascrell's words: "tearing down the labor standards" of American workers.
Among the bill's provisions were the following:
1) H-1B employers would have had to recruit American workers first.
2) Placing H-1B workers at the site of a third party employer ("outsourcing") would have been prohibited.
3) The annual limit for visas would have been fixed at 65,000 (eliminating the extra 20,000 visas for US master degree holders).
4) The maximum number of years in H-1B status would have been reduced from 6 to 4.
To be continued in a future post.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards.
Roger's practice is concentrated in H-1B specialty worker and O-1 extraordinary ability work visas, J-1 training visas, and green cards though labor certification and opposite or same sex marriage.
Roger's email address is email@example.com
Updated 01-18-2017 at 12:38 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel established in December a million dollar Legal Protection Fund for undocumented immigrants living in Chicago. It will help them get the legal assistance they are going to need when President-Elect Donald Trump begins his enforcement program. The money will make it possible for the Chicago-based office of the National Immigration Justice Center to represent 3,000 more undocumented immigrants in removal proceedings.
This appears to be a growing trend.
Point No. 4 in President-Elect Trump’s 10-Point Plan to Put America First calls for an end to sanctuary cities, which presumably will be done by threatening to withhold federal funds from cities that refuse to cooperate with his administration’s enforcement program.
Mayor Emanuel’s Legal Protect Fund may be a more effective way to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation and it should avoid that threat.
Read more at --
Published initially in 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 the 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 twenty years. He also has been a policy advisor for the DHS Office of Information Sharing and Collaboration under a contract with TKC Communications, and he has been in private practice as an immigration lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson.
Updated 01-17-2017 at 07:40 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law
In one of its last decisions of 2016, the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) reduced the penalty of a restaurant from $96,398 to $58,850 for 107 violations. See U.S. v. Pegasus Family Restaurant, Inc.,12 OCAHO no. 1293 (Dec. 2016).
This case stated almost three years ago – in December 2013 – when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) served a Notice of Inspection (NOI) on Pegasus, a small restaurant in Hamburg, New York. Pegasus provided approximately 81 Form I-9s. Thereafter, ICE filed a Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF) alleging Pegasus failed to prepare and/or present 31 Form I-9s and failed to properly complete 76 Form I-9s - it failed to record any documents in section 2, only recorded a List B document, a driver’s license or state ID card, or failed to ensure the completion of Section 1 with a signature or attesting to the employee’s status, U.S. citizen, permanent resident, etc. Pegasus admitted liability on all the I-9 violations. Thus, the only issue before OCAHO was the amount of the penalty.
In seeking a penalty of $96,398, ICE used a baseline penalty of $935 per violation due to Pegasus having a violation rate of over 90%. ICE found Pegasus’s small size and the individuals in Count I as eligible for employment to be mitigating factors while the seriousness of the violations to be an aggravating factor. The remaining statutory factors of history of violations and good faith were considered neutral.
Pegasus asserts its lack of history of violations and no conclusive evidence that any of the employees were unauthorized to work were mitigating factors. Furthermore, it asserts the following non-statutory factors warrant mitigation – general public policy of leniency toward small businesses, company’s high turnover rate, its cooperation with ICE during the investigation, including enrollment in E-Verify, and its inability to pay the proposed penalty.
OCAHO agreed with Pegasus that the government failed to prove any of the employees were unauthorized to work. In an unusual finding, OCAHO stated this was a mitigation factor, rather than a neutral factor, although it recognized that it could have been accepted as a neutral factor. However, OCAHO declined to find the lack of a history of I-9 violations as a mitigating factor.
Concerning its inability to pay, OCAHO found it failed to show it could not pay the penalty, but found the proposed penalty was “unduly punitive.” Thus, OCAHO considered the company’s financial situation.
Although OCAHO found an employer’s post – inspection remedial measures may support mitigation, it declined to final such in this case. Furthermore, it declined to view a high turnover rate as a mitigating factor.
In conclusion, OCAHO found the penalty should be reduced from between $888 and $935 per violation to $550 per violation. Thus, this total penalty was $58,850. As the facts demonstrate, if Pegasus would have performed an internal I-9 audit before ICE arrived with the NOI, many of the I-9 violations could have been corrected and not subject to a penalty.