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  1. AILA Strongly Condemns Reported Plans to Return Migrant Children to Danger

    by , 06-30-2014 at 09:05 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    From the American Immigration Lawyers Association: AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14063060 (posted Jun. 30, 2014)


    Monday, June 30, 2014
    George Tzamaras or Belle Woods
    202-507-7649 - 202-507-7675 -
    Washington, DC - In the following statement, Leslie A. Holman, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) strongly condemns reported Administration plans to quickly, and with no due process, deport unaccompanied migrant children back to the dangers they escaped:

    "If the media reports are true, President Obama is asking Congress to change the law to enable the government to inflict expedited removal on unaccompanied children. That is simply unconscionable. No matter what you call it, rapid deportations without any meaningful hearing for children who are rightly afraid of the violence and turmoil from which they fled is wrong, and contradicts the fundamental values of this nation.

    "The additional resources the Administration is reported to be seeking should be brought to bear to ensure fair and humane treatment of the migrant children fleeing their homes for the possibility of safety and security in a distant land. The funds should be used for immigration court staff and to ensure immigration courts can review each case and the children have access to counsel rather than to buy more plane tickets to take them "home" to a place their lives may be in danger. The President needs to determine an orderly strategy for offering these children refuge until the countries they arrived from, such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, can offer safety. Right now, that is not the case.

    "Our country's reaction to this crisis is going to echo through the lives of these children and their families for generations, and actions to throw them out will be a stain on our history long after this Administration is gone. The simplest way to think about this is the golden rule: if our children were in the same position, how would we want them to be treated? We urge President Obama and Congress to treat these children accordingly," she concluded.

    The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
  2. Immigration Reform: One Year After the Senate Approved the ďBorder Security, Economic

    One year has passed since the Senate approved the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act." In June of 2013, hopes were high that comprehensive immigration reform would become a reality. One year later, these hopes seem misplaced. The Washington Post recently reported that lawmakers on both sides donít believe that immigration reform will be successful until President Obama leaves office. Despite statements by both Democrats and Republicans that immigration reform is critical to the survival of their parties, opposition from House Republicans has prevented the passage of any reform. With the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a primary election to a tea-party challenger whose campaign focused on an anti-immigration platform, immigration reform advocates have lost a critical supporter. Despite these negative developments, there is still time for comprehensive immigration reform to pass. We urge readers to contact their representatives to express their support for immigration reform. This post originally appeared on HLG's Views blog by Cadence Moore.
  3. EB-5 Direct Investment or Indirect Regional Center Investment By Gregory Finkelson

    EB-5 Direct Investment or Indirect Regional Center Investment - Which Is Better?

    EB-5 Direct Investment is like a tree that gets lost in the forest of foreign investment options. This could be due to several factors, not the least of which is the increasing number of EB-5 related businesses seeking multiple investors to fund large projects that require raising large amounts of capital far in excess of the individual minimum $500,000.

    A direct investment requires creation of at least ten new W-2 jobs within the company in which the immigrant investor contributes equity. The direct approach is often more appealing to those who desire to earn a higher return on investment. Structurally speaking, the potential for a greater ROI is higher, but as in any risk versus reward equation, not only does the greater risk increase the potential for reward, but the potential for greater reward also increases the risks.

    Efficiency and versatility are often cited as advantages of direct investing. There is no regional restriction on the development of an investment project, so projects can be developed anywhere in the US. The USCIS approval process takes less time with a direct investment, which works to the benefit of both the project and the immigrant investors.

    Which is better Ė direct or indirect investment? The question itself seems to beg that the answer is one or the other, black or white. In reality, the answer is that the better investment is the one that is most suited for the individual applicant.

    Why Use a Regional Center?

    The point of a Regional Center is to be chartered by the USCIS to pool capital for job-creating investment projects and to facilitate both the investment and the immigration processes. While the process is slower, it is arguably more secure and has several immediately distinct advantages, not the least of which is that an RC can obtain pre-approval of proposed projects. While this adds time on the project side, once the project is approved, the investor side of the project should be shortened considerably.

    In terms of job creation, Regional Centers projects have a versatility of their own, as jobs created need not be direct or even indirect, as even induced job creation through the downstream impact may be taken into account. The provision allows for much broader prospects for fulfilling the EB-5 job creation requirements.

    From a financial perspective, participation through Regional Centers can be structured in a manner where the individual investments can be pooled into a limited partnership that then loans funds to the project. This creative route has a built-in exit strategy, otherwise known as the term of the loan.

    At first glance, EB-5 appears to be a one-size-fits-all, but that is simply not true. No one expects immigrant investors to come to the US in a straightjacket. A vital part of the EB-5 visa program is that it can be tailored to fit individual investors so that they arrive in style.
  4. Premium Processing for Asylum Seekers

    For certain applications with USCIS, the applicant can pay an additional fee of $1,000.00 and receive "premium processing." For people seeking an H1B visa or a green card based on extraordinary ability, payment of the premium processing fee is the norm, and the result is that USCIS responds to the application (sometimes with an approval, other times with a request for additional evidence) within a few weeks. So should premium processing be available for people seeking asylum?

    Waiting in line is a poor man's game.

    There are certainly arguments against such a scheme: Humanitarian benefits should not be for sale, it is unfair to privilege wealthy applicants over poor applicants, asylum is somehow cheapened by making it more expensive. But given the current state of affairs in the asylum world, I think that USCIS should allow premium processing for asylum seekers who want it and can pay for it.

    First, the current state of affairs: The asylum system is groaning under the weight of too many applications. Thousands of cases from 2013 are still lost in limbo, and--at least based on my observation of the local office here in Virginia--we seem to be on the verge of another slow down. People separated from family members have no recourse except to wait. And worse, they have no idea how long they will have to wait. The Asylum Offices have created "short lists" where (supposedly) you can put your name on a list, and if a slot opens up, you will be interviewed. So far, at least for my clients, this seems to work not at all. The bottom line is that we are facing very long delays and applicants and their family members are suffering severely.

    So how would premium processing help?

    Obviously, for those applicants who could pay the fee (whether $1,000.00 or some other amount), their cases would be given priority. This would benefit those applicants who pay the fee, but--if implemented correctly--it would also benefit people who do not pay the fee because the premium processing cases would be removed from the general queue, which would free up interview slots for everyone else.

    Quantifying the effect of a premium processing fee is a bit tricky, however. For one thing, it is not easy to find asylum statistics from the government. A good guess is that between 3,500 and 4,000 people per month file affirmative asylum cases. That is approximately 40,000 people per year. If half those people paid a premium processing fee of $1,000.00, an additional $20 million would be pumped into the system. This would be a significant increase in funding. As best as I can tell, the budget for asylum and refugee operations for FY 2014 is about $236 million, so an additional $20 million for asylum operations alone would be a major increase (the asylum and refugee budget is paid for by USCIS application fees from non-asylum cases, so the cost to U.S. tax payers is minimal). With this additional money, the Asylum Offices could hire more officers, provide resources to expedite background checks, set up a system so applicants could track the progress of their cases, and even provide free donuts and coffee to attorneys waiting for their clients' interviews. In other words, the money could be used to improve the system for everyone, including those who do not pay the fee.

    Of course, we don't know how many asylum applicants would (or could) pay a premium processing fee, but I suspect that many would pay. Remember that asylum applicants differ from refugees in that they have come to the United States on their own. Whether they came legally or illegally, it is likely that they paid for their journey here. Also, many asylum applicants pay attorneys or notarios to prepare their cases. My guess is that many such people would be happy to pay a fee if it meant that their cases would be adjudicated more quickly.

    I must admit that I feel a bit uncomfortable about asking asylum applicants to pay the government to adjudicate their cases (which is maybe ironic, since I ask them to pay me). But given the difficulties caused by long delays (separation from family, stress, uncertainty), I feel that the benefits of a premium processing system would far outweigh any disadvantages.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  5. Complaint Alleges The Obama Administration is Torturing Unaccompanied Minors

    by , 06-26-2014 at 08:26 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    A complaint has been filed by the ACLU on behalf of 116 unaccompanied immigrant children, ages five to seventeen years old, who have been tortured, abused, and mistreated by agents of the Obama administration while held in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is important to note that there have been reports of these abuses for the entirety of the Deporter in Chief's presidency and are not a recent phenomenon.

    Examples include physical abuse, sexual assaults and beatings, racist and sexist insults, death threats, denial of urgent medical care and medication, theft, torture through sleep deprivation, excessively cold temperatures, and the employment of excessively tight metal restraints to inflict pain into wrists and ankles, as well as the denial of adequate food and water.

    From the Huffington Post:

    Detainees wrested from sleep every 30 minutes, the lights in their frigid cells never turned off. One detainee told by officials, don't lie or you'll be raped. Another detainee sexually abused by guards. Detainees forced to stand in stress positions. Others denied adequate food, water, and medical treatment and held in dehumanizing conditions. "Welcome to hell," one guard told a detainee, a good metaphor for what occurs across these sites of torment.

    Specific examples highlighted include the confiscation of a 14-year-old girl's asthma medication resulting in multiple asthma attacks. The child was then threatened by agents of the Obama administration who cautioned against faking. Another involves a 17-year-old girl locked in a holding cell known as the hielera, or freezer, soaking wet where she was forced to drink toilet water.

    Nothing short of criminal prosecution will be satisfactory for my tastes.

    Suffice it to say the President doesn't need Republicans to act on immigration reform to clean up the mess in his own house. If only he were a Republican this matter would receive the national attention it deserves. Unfortunately, the New York Times has Hillary Clinton's book tour to promote.


    Updated 06-26-2014 at 08:38 AM by MKolken

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