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    by , 01-29-2014 at 04:41 PM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo

    Last night, as expected, President Obama signaled the end of S.744 and the beginning of a new version of Comprehensive Immigration Reform in his State of the Union address. Less than 2 percent of the President’s lengthy speech was about immigration reform. While some pro-immigration forces may see this as a bad thing, there are others who think that this is the correct approach in the complex game of politics.

    The President and the Senate learned last year that nothing can get done without Republican-led House approval. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has taken some quiet steps signaling that he may be serious about immigration reform, including the hiring of Becky Tallent in December 2013. Ms. Tallent is a long-time advisor to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who has repeatedly made reform the United States’ immigration laws a priority.

    By not aggressively pushing immigration reform in the State of the Union, the President is allowing Rep. Boehner the breathing room to line up House Republicans on the issue. The Republicans are not interested in handing the President a political win. They will only allow an immigration bill to move if they can get the press to report that an immigration bill is Republican driven. That would never have happened if the President had demanded that Congress put a bill on his desk.

    The odds are still long. Immigration reform is tough. But the President’s lack of discussion on the issue in last night’s address is yet another move in a long game.

    Read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at or You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Why Are Immigration Lawyers So Happy?

    by , 01-29-2014 at 03:57 PM (Angelo Paparelli on Dysfunctional Government) lawyer-thumb-350x406-25799.jpgWhy Are Immigration Lawyers So Happy?

    By Careen Shannon and Angelo Paparelli

    According to statistics provided to CNN by the Centers for Disease Control, among professionals in the United States lawyers rank fourth in suicides (exceeded in misery only by dentists, pharmacists and physicians). Lawyers are also nearly four times more likely to suffer from depression than non-lawyers.

    Clearly, practicing law is never a 9-to-5 job. Being a lawyer is a high-stress, plummeting-prestige profession—the work is demanding, the economics of the profession are increasingly challenging, and in the views of some, the psychic or status rewards of working as a lawyer rank below nail technician. Far be it from us to suggest that immigration lawyers are immune to the effects of such stress. But among the countless lawyers we know in dozens of different specialties, we think it is fair to say that the immigration lawyers are the happiest. Why?

    The stress in most lawyers’ lives is caused primarily, we believe, by a few key factors. First, the American legal system is deliberately adversarial. Our adversarial system of law is meant to be fairer than the inquisitorial approach used in many civil law countries by allowing each side in a dispute to zealously defend its position before an impartial arbiter (judge or jury). But the pressures of such a system can take a toll on the advocates—the lawyers—who work within it. In fact, lawyers have been compared to soldiers in this regard: “Both lead physically tough lifestyles: long hours, separated from family life and both are sent to fight other people’s conflicts, no questions asked.” The qualities that can make for a good lawyer—intelligence, diligence, perfectionism, competitiveness, being hard-working and achievement-oriented—can also create the isolation, panic and anxiety that often lead to depression.

    Second, contrary to how the life of a lawyer is depicted on television or in the movies, much of what lawyers actually do on a day-to-day basis can be mind-numbingly boring. Think document review, drafting boilerplate contracts, performing endless legal research, completing innumerable government forms (especially in fields like tax and immigration), and preparing for trial or finishing a brief late into too many nights. Not really anyone’s idea of fun.
    Of more immediate concern to members of the legal profession nowadays are the financial pressures presented by a changing economy, and the fear that lawyers will be replaced by non-lawyers and by the increasing use of technology. In tough economic times, corporate and individual clients alike are seeking more for less—more and speedier legal services for less money. A related pressure flows from what Professor Richard Susskind argues in his book, Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, is the inevitable liberalization of legal services, whereby non-lawyers are permitted to provide services traditionally considered to constitute the practice of law. This is already the case in many other countries, and in the United States is institutionalized in immigration law practice, where certain non-lawyers accredited by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals are allowed to represent immigrants in removal proceedings or in administrative matters before the Department of Homeland Security.
    As discussed at length in a recent article in The Economist, whereas automation in the world’s advanced economies in the 20th century served mostly to replace workers with machines in the manufacturing sector, technology in the 21st century is automating “brain-work,” including some of the work typically performed by white-collar professionals such as accountants and lawyers. This type of disruptive economic growth will inevitably have a significant impact on the practice of law. Indeed, Susskind’s more sobering prediction is that the future of law will be “a world of virtual courts, Internet-based global legal businesses, online document production, commoditized service, legal process outsourcing, and web-based simulated practice.” That’s enough to drive any lawyer to drink.

    So why do we think immigration lawyers are different? Notwithstanding the innovative use of technology to simplify and automate many of the more mundane aspects of law practice, including gathering information, tracking deadlines and completing forms (of which our firms, Fragomen and Seyfarth Shaw, are leading examples in the world of immigration law), immigration practice fundamentally revolves around people. Whether you’re helping a Fortune 500 company manage its global mobility program, defending an individual against removal (deportation) in Immigration Court, or helping a U.S. citizen’s foreign spouse apply for permanent residence, as an immigration lawyer you are ultimately assisting people through a major personal transition that will profoundly transform their lives and the lives of their families.

    Economic pressures and technological development are moving us inevitably toward a more data-driven, data-input system of immigration benefits procurement, and the trend toward reliance on technology carries with it the threat of dehumanizing both the practice of law as a profession and the truly intimate odyssey for the immigrants we represent. But while the CDC has not provided statistics about the mental health of immigration lawyers in particular, it is clear to us that immigration lawyers labor in the finest tradition of law as a “helping profession.”

    This ability to help others, without a true adversary such as a litigation opponent staying up all night devising ways to destroy opposing counsel—not just a government lawyer with an impossible case load who often has too little time for assertive advocacy—distinguishes immigration lawyers from the suicide-prone attorneys described in the CNN article. To be sure, we’ve seen immigration lawyers react poorly to the stress of the practice, especially those of the people-pleaser sort who have a hard time communicating bad news to clients, and just want always to say yes. But they are by far a speck in the immigration-lawyer universe.

    As immigration lawyers, we have expertise in a complicated area of law that we apply in the service of our clients. For those of us who work in the private sector, we have skills that are also uniquely valuable to an underserved population of indigent immigrants for whom there is a severe shortage of qualified non-profit and pro bono legal counsel. Attorneys who do not specialize in immigration law also have skills that are easily transferable to representing immigrants facing deportation or applying for asylum or seeking various types of lawful immigration status.

    In one of Careen’s first pro bono cases as a young lawyer—an asylum matter in Immigration Court—the case concluded with Respondent’s counsel, the client and the judge choking back tears. Angelo’s pro bono cases have also included life-changing experiences, for Angelo and his clients, as he has blogged, here, here and here.

    So, feeling stressed out or depressed? Take a sip of the helping-profession elixir that brought many of us into law in the first place, and take on a pro bono immigration case. Whether you are already an immigration lawyer, or a lawyer in another specialty looking for meaning amid the stress and frustrations of law practice, we promise you that in addition to helping a person in need and fulfilling the highest ethical calling of the legal profession, the experience will leave you feeling fulfilled beyond all expectations. And it is far superior to talk therapy and antidepressants.

    Updated 01-29-2014 at 04:00 PM by APaparelli

  3. The Ancient Origins of Asylum: Part II

    In the last post, I wrote about the mythical origins of asylum and about the cities of refugee of the ancient Israelites.

    The Classical Greeks had a different concept of asylum than the Israelites. The Greeks recognized holy places—temples, alters, statues—as protected. To rob from a sacred place was to rob from the gods. This protection included the property of the sacred place and also people—including fugitives—who were found in that place. Runaway slaves, debtors, warriors vanquished in battle, and criminals would not be harmed in the sanctuaries and could find refuge there. The most well-known place of asylum was the Temple of Theseus in Athens (this temple is still standing; today, it is usually called the Temple of Hephaestus). Runaway slaves who fled their abusive masters could find refuge in the temple, and then compel their masters to sell them to someone else.

    You do NOT want to make this guy angry.
    Places of asylum were generally respected in the ancient Greek world, but sometimes the respect accorded to the sacred space was interpreted narrowly. For example, the historian Thucydides writes about the case of the Spartan general Pausanias, who had defeated the Persians at the Battle of Platea in 479 BC. In the years following the battle, Pausanias came under increasing suspicion as a traitor to the Persian side. Finally, at the moment when he was about to be arrested, Pausanias ran away to the Temple of Athena in Sparta, where he sought sanctuary. The leaders of Sparta who had sought Pausanias’s arrest barricaded him inside the temple and starved him out. Rather than violate the sanctity of the temple, they removed Pausanias from the place in the moments before his death. Thucydides writes that as soon as he was removed from the temple, Pausanias died. It’s hard to see how the temple offered him much protection, but the concept of the inviolability of the holy place was—technically—maintained.

    Echoing a much more modern complaint, the concept of asylum in ancient Greece was often abused by people seeking protection. Nevertheless, throughout the Greek period, asylum was generally respected, if only because violators feared divine wrath.

    The concept of asylum was also important to the Romans, albeit for a different reason. Legend has it that Rome was founded by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. After a dispute about where to establish the city, Romulus killed his brother and named the city after himself. Roman historians date the founding of their city to the seventh century BC.

    Romulus wanted to increase the population of his new city, and so he designated one area as a sacred “Asylum.” This is where newcomers entered the city. According to the Roman historian Livy (59 BC – 17 AD), the Asylum was crucial to Rome’s advancement and eventual greatness because it symbolized the Empire’s ability to enfranchise people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.

    During the second and first centuries BC, Rome asserted control over Macedonia and eventually (in 27 BC) all of Greece. Rome was heavily influenced by Greek culture (the Roman poet Horace said, “Greece, though captive, has taken its wild conqueror captive”), including in the area of asylum. However, the idea of asylum as a “right” soon became inconvenient for the Romans. How could they allow rebels and criminals to avoid the power of the Empire by hiding in temples?

    To mitigate this problem and assert their authority, the Romans severely restricted asylum in the Greek temples. Temples in the non-Greek areas of the Roman Empire fared little better. Throughout the Empire, Roman Law superseded religious sentiment. The places of asylum tended to be statues of the Caesars, not temples, and the sanctuary was only temporary. Those fleeing Roman “Justice” (such as it was) could not escape for long by claiming asylum.

    As the power of Rome declined, the power of the new Christian Church began to grow. Like its predecessors, the Church had its own version of asylum, but that’s a story for another day...

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
    Tags: asylum, history Add / Edit Tags
  4. President Threatens Executive Action, but not on Immigration - yet. By Roger Algase

    In his January 28 State of the Union address, President Obama threatened to use his executive powers on several issues if Congress doesn't act, but, notably, left immigration off the list. He also said little about immigration reform in general, except to urge Congress to get it done.

    POLITICO explains the reason for this softer approach in its January 29 article: Republicans bash Obama for overstepping bounds:

    "The president left Congress some breathing room on this issue, devoting little time in his address to immigration reform."

    But, by asserting his right to use executive powers on other issues, the president, at least indirectly, made clear that if the House continues with its obstruction of immigration reform, further administrative action in this area too will not be off the table.

    At least let us hope not.

    Updated 01-29-2014 at 02:53 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Over 500,000 Employers Now Using E-Verify; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    The USCIS recently announced more than 500,000 employers now use its E-Verify program. The free tool allows employers, small businesses and large corporations alike, to confirm their new employees’ eligibility to work. This is a sharp increase in usage since the program began in 1996. Originally, just 11,474 companies in fiscal year 1996 signed up for E-Verify. That number jumped ten-fold to 111,671 companies in FY 2012.

    Why the increase?

    In FY 2013, employers’ use of E-Verify increased by almost 500%. Much of the increase can be attributed to improved accuracy since, according to USCIS, 98.8% of work-authorized employees are confirmed instantly or within 24 hours, requiring no further employee or employer action. Additionally, many states have passed their own E-Verify laws and federal contractors and subcontractors are often required to use E-Verify. A useful map of state by state E-Verify requirements is available here .

    It would also be hard to ignore the continued enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whereby certain companies have agreed to use E-Verify, conduct self-audits, and submit to an ICE audit as part of settlement agreements for violations or in acts of voluntary compliance under the “IMAGE” program.

    An immigration lawyer’s perspective

    From an immigration lawyer’s perspective, the increased use of E-Verify means employers are relieved of some of the burden of determining whether an employee’s I-9 Form documentation is authentic. Additionally, E-Verify can act as a safe harbor for employers in many instances.

    Businesses wishing to learn more about E-Verify should read USCIS’s Employer Manual located here .
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