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Russia and the US are two of the largest, if not the two largest, magnets for immigrants in the world today, and they share a number of common issues in their approaches to immigration policy. Both countries are facing questions as to whether their native-born populations are growing fast enough to sustain economic growth, and both are also dealing with a major illegal immigration problem.
As a result, in both countries there have been proposals which could result in mass incarceration or deportation of unauthorized immigrants, as discussed in my December 14 Immigration Daily post.
At the same time, both countries have been making efforts to attract needed skilled and professional immigrants, not only from Europe, which was the once the major source of immigrants for both countries, but from more diverse parts of the world.
In the US, as is well known, there are presently a number of visa programs aimed at attracting highly educated skilled. professional and entrepreneurial workers, such as H-1B, L-1, E-1, E-2 and O-1 temporary employment visas, and Labor Certification, Extraordinary Ability,International Transferee and National Interest Waiver green cards (not to leave out EB-5, of course)!
For the past half century, ever since the 1965 immigration reform law replaced the "Nordics" only "national origin" immigration quotas of the 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, immigration to the US has been, at least in theory, open to immigrants from all over the world, without discrimination as to race, color or religion.
There can be no doubt that this landmark law, arguably the most important single immigration statute in America's entire history, has made a major change in the face - and demographics of the US over the past fifty years. For one of the best and most comprehensive available discussions of the background of this transformative law, see:
Migration Information Source:
The Geopolitical Origins of the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965.
While Russia has become a magnet for large scale immigration much more recently than the US, beginning in the 1990's after the fall of the Soviet Union, that country is also in the midst of making attempts to widen its appeal to skilled and professional immigrants from outside Europe, especially from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
The most comprehensive study of the measures that Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, has been taking to open up its immigration system to skilled and professional workers from outside Europe, is available from an independent, Paris and Brussels-based research organization known as ifri- Russia/NIS Center ("ifri").
In January, 2016, ifri published a report by a Russian scholar, Lyubov Bisson (see her biography in the introduction to the report) entitled:
Russia's Immigration Policy: New Challenges and Tools
This report should be required reading for anyone interested in topic of immigration in Russia today. Unfortunately, I do not have a direct link. However, this article can easily be found on Google by typing in the above title.
The following are some highlights of the report as they relate to skilled and professional immigration policy in Russia today.
Bisson writes about the new Russian "Blue Card's" effect in increasing the number of skilled workers in the country as follows:
"The trend in the number of highly qualified workers attracted to work in Russia shows progressive improvement: in 2013, more than 20,000 work permits were granted to them, twice as many as in the previous year. If combined with permits for qualified specialists, the number is even higher. The term 'qualified'specialist' covers workers in more than sixty different professions: artists, directors and people employed in theater, cinema annd television: various types of engineers, including those in aviation, programmers, [newspaper] correspondents, as well as company directors. The list is updated annually by the Ministry of Labour. 55,484 work permits were handed out to highly qualified and qualified foreign specialists in 2012..."
The parallels with the H-1B definition of "specialty occupation" as well with other US visa categories such as O-1, L-1, E and I visas are clear.
But not every observer of Russian immigration policy is happy about the influx of skilled foreign workers, any more than every person or group seeking to influence America's immigration system is happy with this country's openness (such as it is) to skilled foreign workers from every part of the world.
And at least in some quarters with respect to both countries, the reason for this opposition is not due to any lack of qualifications on the part of the skilled foreign workers involved, but because of their ethnicity or non-European national origins.
To be continued in Part 2.
In the meantime, in the Christmas - and the American - spirit of good will to all people, regardless of race, color or religion, I wish all readers a very Happy Holiday.
Attorney at Law
Updated 12-23-2016 at 06:29 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Former House Speaker, and Donald Trump adviser, Newt "The Brain" Gingrich recently made plain what Mr. Trump has been arguing for months: The new Administration is planning "straight-out war" against the federal bureaucracy. But in my time, there are two things that I've learned about ideological wars: (1) The casualties are flesh-and-blood human beings, and (2) Everyone involved thinks that G-d is on his side.
"Sidekick to a bully" is not a job title many government lawyers relish.
In this case, Mr. Gingrich was speaking specifically about the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, which he accused of various sins amounting mostly to half-truths (or perhaps whole lies). But we've seen a pattern with Mr. Trump's appointments. For example. the new head of the Department of Energy wanted to eliminate that agency in 2012. The leader of the Environmental Protection Agency doubts human-influenced climate change and will likely prevent that organization from issuing regulations to protect public health. And the new Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be Dr. Ben Carson, whose main qualification seems to be that he lives in a house.
But the situation for the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are a bit different, at least in terms of those agencies' oversight of our nation's immigration laws. In those cases, it's more likely that Mr. Trump will be ramping-up enforcement at the possible expense of other immigration functions (like processing immigration benefits).
Senator Jeff Sessions will lead the DOJ as Attorney General. He is known for his opposition to immigration reform and his belief that legal immigration to the United States should be reduced. So how will Senator Sessions's appointment affect DOJ in terms of immigration enforcement? DOJ administers the nations Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA"), and (within some limits) interprets our immigration laws. As Attorney General, Mr. Sessions has the power to narrow precedents favorable to non-citizens. He can do this directly, by issuing Attorney-General opinions, which supersede decisions made by the BIA. He can also do it indirectly, by appointing ideologically like-minded Judges and BIA Members. DOJ also administers the Office of Immigration Litigation ("OIL"), which defends BIA decisions in the federal courts. Mr. Sessions could order OIL to take more hard-line stances, and he could push litigation that reflects his restrictonist viewpoint.
How would this be different than what we have now? The atmosphere for aliens in immigration proceedings has never been easy. That's particularly true for aliens convicted of crimes. But at least in most cases, I have found that Judges, BIA Board Members, and OIL attorneys are reasonable, and do their best to follow the law. Sometimes that means deporting people who are very sympathetic; other times, it means allowing people to stay who they believe should be deported. The problem comes when we have DOJ attorneys who are more concerned with ideological ends than with due process. We saw this most clearly when Attorney General John Ashcroft purged liberal (or supposedly liberal) BIA Board Members at the beginning of the George W. Bush Administration. Perhaps we will see a similar reshuffling in the months ahead.
For fair-minded attorneys, Judges, and Board Members at DOJ, that's a frightening prospect. Are their jobs in jeopardy? Will they be forced to take positions contrary to their conscious, or contrary to their interpretation of the law? Many immigration benefits--such as asylum--contain a discretionary element. Will the ability to exercise discretion be intolerably curtailed?
It's still unclear whether attorneys and officers at the Department of Homeland Security will face the same potential dilemmas as their DOJ counterparts. The new Secretary for DHS will be retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, who is widely viewed as non-ideological. Under the DHS ambit are several agencies that impact immigration, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), which is basically the immigration police and prosecutors, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), which administers immigration benefits, including asylum. We have yet to learn who will lead these agencies, and probably the choices for those posts will have more effect on the officers and attorneys "in the trenches" than General Kelly, who is overseeing the entire agency.
Currently, DHS attorneys, Asylum Officers, and ICE officers have a fair bit of discretion in handling cases, especially cases where the alien has no criminal record. DHS attorneys often can decide whether to keep an alien detained, they can offer prosecutorial discretion, and they can decide how aggressively to pursue an individual's deportation or whether to agree to relief. Asylum Officers also have a fair bit of discretion to determine credibility and decide on relief.
The attorneys, officers, and Judges I know at DHS and DOJ are generally intelligent, caring individuals who do their best to follow and enforce the law without inflicting undo harm on individuals and families. They are aware of their power and their responsibilities, and they take their jobs seriously. Sometimes, I disagree with them on their interpretation of the law. Sometimes, I think their approach is unnecessarily aggressive. In some cases, we evaluate the merits of a case differently. While we do not always agree, I can see that they are performing an essential function by fairly enforcing our nation's immigration laws.
In speaking to some DOJ and DHS attorneys and officers since the recent election, I have seen a certain level of demoralization. Some people have expressed to me their desire to leave government service. While these individuals respect and follow the law--even when the results are harsh--they are not ideological. They do not hate immigrants (or non-white people, or Muslims) and they do not want to enable or contribute to a system that they fear will become overtly hostile to immigrants that President Trump considers undesirable. I suppose if I have one word of advice for such people, it is this: Stay.
If you are a government attorney or officer and you are thinking of leaving because you fear an overtly ideological Administration, you are exactly the type of person that we need to stay. As has often been the case in recent decades, an honest, competent bureaucracy is the bulwark against our sometimes extremist politics.
It's likely that if you are a government employee who is sympathetic to non-citizens, your job will get more difficult, the atmosphere may become more hostile. It will be harder to "do the right thing" as you see it. Opportunities for promotions may become more limited. Nevertheless, I urge you to stay. We need you to help uphold the law and ensure due process for non-citizens and their families. To a large extent, our immigration system is as good or as bad as the people who administer the law. We need the good ones to stay.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com
In a move that could make it easier for the incoming federal administration to deport almost a million unauthorized immigrants who have New York City issued ID's, a New York judge has ordered the City to stop the planned destruction of their information records pending a hearing.
The New York Times reports on December 21 that in response to a lawsuit brought by two Republican members of the State Assembly from Staten Island, State Supreme Court Judge Philip G. Minardo has ordered the destruction of these records, which was planned for December 31, to be postponed pending a hearing on whether such destruction should be prohibited.
The NY Times story explains that the ID's were issued over the past two years under a program called IDNYC, which has been popular with unauthorized immigrants who need government-issued ID's but who are unable to obtain drivers' licenses or social security cards.
As the article also points out, retaining personal information relating to the applicants, who are not asked about their immigration status when they apply for the ID, could damage the credibility of New York City agencies and law enforcement with immigrant communities, whose members rely on the confidentiality of the personal information which is provided by the applicants for the ID's.
The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Castorina v. De Blasio, Ronald Castorina Jr. and Nicole Malliotakis, contend that the lawsuit is "not about immigration", though it is hard to see how maintaining information that could directly lead to the deportation of up to a million people could be unrelated to immigration.
However, Mr. Castorina and Ms. Malliotakis, who have also filed a freedom of information request, that was denied by New York City, to obtain the records of all IDNYC cardholders, (which could obviously lead to large scale intimidation and fear in New York's immigrant communities) claimed that the records should be made public in order to prevent "fraud or money laundering" (!).
However, just as is the case with the attempts of Republican legislators in a number of states, with the help of Trump adviser Kris Kobach, to pass laws disenfranchising minority voters under the pretext of preventing virtually non-existent "voter fraud", the plaintiffs in the above lawsuit did not cite any actual instance of alleged fraud or money laundering under the above program - many of whose users live in homeless shelters and are unlikely to have very much money to "launder".
The attempt to preserve these confidential personal records for possible use as a weapon of harassment and fear, if not actual deportation, against almost a million immigrants in New York City, also gives rise to a larger issue - one which affects not only immigrants but also American citizens as well:
How much personal, private or confidential information relating to the lifestyles, political opinions and religious beliefs of ordinary Americans will governmental authorities at all levels have available to use in order to browbeat, intimidate, or terrify them into following the orders and dictates of a new administration led by an incoming president who, during and after his campaign, did not become known for tolerating opinions or expression of views different from his own; and who still has left open the possibility that he may seek to register US citizens who belong to a religion he opposes and, that he may ban immigrants who belong to that religion from coming to the United States? See:
Who else may be required to register in or be banned from entering the United States for holding views or adhering to beliefs that the new administration doesn't like?
In this connection, one can note reports that the Trump administration may be planning to purge federal employees who support environmental causes.
Could there one day soon be a similar purge of federal employees who were involved with pro-immigrant programs (such as, perhaps, DACA), or who may have unpopular religious views or affiliations?
In this connection, see President Richard Nixon's attempt to find out which Jews were working for the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (which now publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook - OOH -that is so important in connection with H-1B petitions):
Could the Castorina v. De Blasio lawsuit, while ostensibly being aimed mainly at immigrants, be the gateway to a police state controlling the lives, and thoughts, of the American people as well?
Attorney at Law
Updated 12-22-2016 at 11:38 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Update: December 23. The following comment has been rewritten and now appears, in revised form and under a different title, in the December 23 issue of Immigration Daily.
I refer readers to that issue in order to see the latest version.
Attorney at Law
The US and Russia are the world's two largest nations terms of immigration flows and both have programs in place to attract skilled and professional workers who can benefit the economy and society. The US, of course has skilled and professional worker programs such as H-1B, O-1 and L-1 "nonimmigrant" visas, as well as green cards based on labor certification, extraordinary ability, and national interest waivers - to name only some of the avenues to permanent residence available.
While H-1B and the permanent residence programs mentioned above are all subject to annual limits, including (except for H-1B) per country quotas which have been the subject of much discussion and debate as to their fairness and utility, it has been a fundamental principle of America's immigration system for the past half century, ever since the landmark immigration reform law of 1965, that skilled and professional immigration should be based primarily on merit and need, without discrimination against any group of immigrants based race, color, religion or national origin.
It is also so well-known and obvious that extensive discussion is not necessary, that prior to 1965, all immigration to the US (other than from the Western Hemisphere), was subject to a "national origins" quota system which heavily favored immigrants from the "Nordic" countries of western Europe, and virtually barred entry from Southern and Eastern Europe (few if any Jews, Italians or Poles need apply, please), the Middle East and Africa - immigration from Asia already having been barred by other racially discriminatory statutes or treaties.
Though there was a dispute at the time of adoption about whether the 1965 immigration reform law was intended to have this result or not, there can be no question that since its enactment, immigration to the US, including immigration by skilled and professional workers, has been open to qualified immigrants from all parts of the world.
For one of many excellent available summaries of the background and effect of what might arguably be the single most important statute in America's entire immigration history, see the following 2015 article by the Migration Policy Institute:
Russia also, especially since 2012, has made a special effort, which has received far less attention than it deserves among US immigration specialists, given that country's size and influence in world affairs, to attract skilled and professional immigrants.
One of the most recent and comprehensive studies, if not the single most comprehensive and scholarly study of this issue available on the Internet at present, of Russia's current policies in attracting skilled and professional immigrants is a January 2016 article entitled Russia's Immigration Policy: New Challenges and Tools, by Lyubov Bisson.
Ms. Bisson's biography at the beginning of the article shows that she is a research fellow at the Department of European Integration Studies, Institute of Europe, at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
I will begin with an outline of these programs, as described in the above article, which is published (in English translation from the Russian) by the Ifri Russia NIS Center, an independent, non-governmental, non-profit research center based in Paris and Brussels.
See: ISBN: 978-2-36567-514-7
(Sorry, I do not have a direct link available. This article can easily be accessed through Google.)
To be continued.
Attorney at Law
Updated 12-23-2016 at 06:28 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law
A Virginia attorney, Sunila Dutt, pled guilty in a New Jersey federal court to criminal charges for submitting false documents to USCIS and Department of Labor and obstructing an investigation. These acts were part of a scheme to fraudulently obtain H-1B visas for foreign workers of two information technology companies, SCM Data Inc. and MMC Systems Inc.
SCM Data and MMC Systems conspired with Dutt to falsify paperwork submitted to the federal government that stated the workers had full-time ďin houseĒ positions with the companies. In fact, SCM Data and MMC Systems would only pay the foreign IT consultants after placing them in roles working for third-party clients. Dutt also provided fabricated employment documents to the DOL after it started an audit of both companies. Furthermore, Dutt advised one of the foreign workers to lie to the USCIS about living arrangements to extend visa status.
Dutt will be sentenced in February 2017 at which time he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.