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Awhopping 31 amendments were approved in yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee markup of S.744 so it took me a little longer than I hoped to get them all summarized. But here they are.
Summary of Amendments from May 20
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As the Senate inches forward on immigration reform, the bombing in Boston looms large. In a recent amendment, Senators agreed that asylum seekers will automatically lose their*status if they return to their home country. According to the*Washington Post:
Senators unanimously approved an amendment by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) that would terminate the asylum or refugee status of anyone who returns to his or her home country. Graham introduced the amendment after investigators discovered that Boston bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev had traveled last year to Russia and Dagestan after his family sought and was granted asylum from Dagestan in 2002.
The Tsarnaev's also liked Justin Bieber. Therefore, under the new Senate bill, all immigrant Beliebers will be deported.
I am sure, dear reader, that you will not be surprised to learn that I oppose this amendment. I oppose it because it is redundant, impractical, harmful to many innocent asylum seekers, and unlikely to accomplish its purported goal. Let's take each objection in turn:
First, under the current law, if an asylee (or a lawful permanent resident who obtained his status based on asylum) returns to the country of feared persecution, he can lose his immigration status. The law as it exists now allows for some flexibility, and there is a procedure for terminating the alien's asylum status. Given that an alien who returns to his home country will likely lose his asylum status, the Senate amendment seems redundant.
Second, the amendment is, at best, impractical. How will we know whether an alien has returned to her home country? Refugees are currently able to travel abroad using a Refugee Travel Document, which is similar to a passport. Let's say a refugee wants to visit her home country. She can go to a neighboring country using the Refugee Travel Document, and then enter her home country with her passport. Or-better yet from her point of view-she can enter her home country without inspection (i.e., illegally). In either case, it is unlikely that the U.S. government would ever learn about the trip home.
And what about the scenario where a legitimate refugee travels abroad for a legitimate reason. He does not go to his home country, but his government lies and reports that he traveled home (the Russian government reported-truthfully-that Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Dagestan). Perhaps the home government wants to harm the refugee, who the government views as a political opponent. Reports from unfriendly governments are potentially untrustworthy, so how can we rely on them?
Third, many innocent asylees have legitimate reasons to travel home: To help a sick relative, to engage in political or journalistic activities, to take care of property. Also, some people can travel home for a short trip and remain under the radar for their brief time in the home country. Just because a person is willing to take a risk and return home does not necessarily mean that she does not have a well-founded fear of persecution.
Finally, it's hard for me to believe that this amendment would do anything to make us safer. Given how hard it is to determine whether an asylee traveled to his home country, and given the many legitimate reasons for such a journey, it seems very doubtful that the amendment will do anything to stop the next Tsarnaev-brothers type attack.
It seems to me that this amendment is an example of the Senate fighting the last war, and not fighting it very well. There are better ways to search for terrorists and extremists within the asylum seeker ranks. But I will leave that discussion for a future post.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:20 PM by JDzubow
30+ amendments approved today. I'm still working on my summary, but here's where I am so far.
Summary of 5-20 amendments
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Please email your letters to email@example.com or post them directly as "Comment" below.
Ever since the people of Minnesota elected Al Franken their U.S. senator, there's been a hole in my comedic heart. *The good Senator doesn't keep counsel with me, but I've discerned that he's made a personal vow to never again offer a hint of his former incarnation as one of the nation's most hilarious comedians and sketch comedy artists. *
In other words, he has adopted a serious mien, a gravitas befitting his membership in that elite conclave of the 100. *So far as I can tell, he hasn't said anything really funny since before*July 7, 2009 (when he took his senatorial oath before Vice President Joe Biden), and has rarely even mentioned the word "comedy" (except when offering a eulogy to his former writing partner, Tom Davis).
But since last Thursday, I have been consoled, although not comedically. *That's when I was reminded of his famous role on Saturday Night Live as the "caring nurturer" and "member of several 12-step programs," Stuart Smalley.
I thought then of Stuart's famous tag line, and tweaked it because of what Sen. Franklin did. He clearly showed that he's still more than "good enough . . . *[and] smart enough," *and that "doggone it [immigration reform advocates really] like [him]." *
While*nonetheless*sticking to his vow of steadfast unfunniness, he persuaded his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to adopt by voice vote an amendment (Franken 4) to the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill, S. 744. *If CIR is enacted with Franken 4 included, it would establish within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) an "Office of the Small Business and Employee Advocate" (the SBE Advocate), whose purpose would be to "assist small businesses [firms with 49 or fewer employees] and individuals in complying with the [Form I-9 (employment-eligibility-verification) requirements" of the immigration laws, "including the resolution of conflicts arising in the course of attempted compliance with such requirements."
The new role for the SBE Advocate complements the expanded authority of the USCIS Ombudsman under another amendment engrafted onto S. 744. *Like the Ombudsman, the SBE Advocate is empowered to provide assistance to the public, resolve I-9 compliance problems and make recommendations for changes to immigration laws and regulations. *
Unlike the bully-pulpit authority of the Ombudsman, however, the SBE Advocate would be authorized to issue an "Assistance Order" if any employer (not just a small business) or an individual has suffered or will likely suffer a "significant hardship" relating to I-9 compliance. *The SBE Advocate*can also consider "significant hardship" more favorably to the small business or individual if USCIS does not follow its own "applicable published administrative guidance" and*require the Secretary of Homeland Security under the terms of an Assistance Order:
to cease any action, take any action, or refrain from taking any action, with respect to the small business or individual under the I-9 provisions of the immigration laws;*to determine whether any employee is or is not authorized to work in the United States; or*to abate any penalty under such laws that the SBE Advocate*determines is inappropriate or excessive.
The anticipated creation of the Office of SBE Advocate follows on the longstanding difficulties encountered by small businesses in trying to comply with immigration law requirements and the more recent laudable attempts by USCIS to espouse (and, alas,*inconsistently demonstrate) support for small-business entrepreneurship under that agency's Entrepreneurs in Residence program, which has provided useful training to its adjudicators*and continues to grow.
So, all in all, I'm pleased with Sen. Franken*and his Minnesota niceness; but I still miss Stuart Smalley. *Although mollified by Franken 4, but still unable to fill that comedic hole in my heart, I searched the web to find out what morphed Stuart into Senator Franken. Lo and behold I think I've found it. *It was obviously his encounter with erstwhile presidential candidate and inventor of the internet, Al Gore, that turned Stuart into a politico:
Doggone you, Al Gore!
Updated 07-16-2013 at 02:21 PM by APaparelli