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  1. Attorney Pleads Guilty To Falsifying Visa Documents for H-1B Workers

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    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 “in house” 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.
  2. Letters of the Week: December 19 - December 26

  3. OSC Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Utah Company

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), an agency within the Department of Justice, reached an agreement resolving claims that 1st Class Staffing LLC, a staffing company based in Orem, Utah, discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The OSC’s investigation found that 1st Class Staffing’s office in Fontana, California routinely requested that non-U.S. citizens provide specific immigration documents to establish their authorization to work. However, it did not request specific immigration documents to establish their authorization to work from U.S. citizens. Under the INA, all workers, including non-U.S. citizens, must be allowed to choose whichever valid documentation they would like to present from the lists of acceptable documents to prove their work authorization. Failure to allow such because of their citizenship, immigration status or national origin is unlawful.

    Under the terms of the settlement agreement, 1st Class must pay for lost wages to the charging party whose complaint initiated the investigation; pay $17,600 in civil penalties to the United States; ensure all relevant personnel have the current version of the M-274 – I-9 Handbook for Employers, and M-775 – USCIS E-Verify Manual; train its human resources staff on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA by attending an OSC webinar; provide the OSC every 4 months for the next year a list of all individuals hired, including name, hire date and citizenship status, from which the OSC may select up to 150 individuals to review their I-9 forms; and review and revise its policies and procedures to comply with the requirements of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.
  4. Will President Trump follow President Putin's lead in welcoming more legal immigrants who can benefit the economy and society? Roger Algase

    In view of the anticipated warming in relations between the US and Russia after America's new president takes office on January 20, 2017, it would be instructive to examine whether the new US administration might look to Russia for some cues or ideas on immigration policy.

    This is of interest particularly in the light of a lengthy and comprehensive proposal, discussed in detail below, which Russian President Vladimir Putin issued three and a half years ago, on June 13, 2013 concerning measures needed to attract more legal immigrants to Russia in order to benefit that country's economy and society.

    According to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI - see my Immigration Daily post for December 14), Russian experts believe that:

    "...a full scale rejection of migrants could lead to an economic collapse."

    http://rapsinews.com/legislation_pub...268590432.html

    Moreover, it would be logical to expect America's incoming president to look to President Putin for suggestions about immigration policy in view of the growing post election friendship between the Russia and the US, based on mutual admiration and support between these two presidents:

    http://www.npr.org/2016/12/16/505890...n-the-election

    There are many indications that both countries' presidents have similar views on a number of important policy issues that are related to immigration in a larger sense, such as the roles of presidential power and democratic institutions:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/09/us...utin.html?_r=0

    and

    http://www.newsweek.com/putin-and-tr...asparov-436556

    as well as on economic policy:

    http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/09/v...mp-493946.html

    the right to free speech:

    http://thefederalist.com/2016/02/29/...-donald-trump/

    and other fundamental human rights according to international law

    http://www.businessinsider.com/syria...-putin-2016-11

    With regard to immigration policy specifically, the US and Russia are also both large, ethnically diverse countries, with substantial immigrant populations and an aging base of native born citizens.

    In addition to their expanding immigrant populations, in large part from Latin America and South and East Asia in the US, and from Central Asia in the case of Russia, there are also widely perceived needs for skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants.

    However, in both countries, there are also influential nativist movements which are seeking to reduce all immigration.

    As will be shown in my next post on the topic of legal immigration policy, while America's incoming president had the enthusiastic support of this nativist movement in his election campaign and has appointed at least two figures associated with this movement, Senator Jeff Ssssions and Breitbart News chief Stephen Bannon, to high positions in his coming administration. Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has come under criticism from his own "Alt-Right" for being too much of a moderate on immigration.

    In my December 14 Immigration Daily Post, I discussed some possible or actual similarities that might exist between Vladimir Putin's announced policies and those of the incoming US president with regard to immigration enforcement.

    These include proposals such as Putin's plan announced nearly four years ago to build more than 80 illegal immigrant detention centers located near major cities throughout Russia, compared with the plan of America's incoming new chief executive to deport up to 3 million "criminals aliens" (most of whom might turn out to be immigrants who may have have been been charged with, but not actually convicted of, any crime).

    But what about legal immigration? Here, we can find what may be a very significant difference, if not a chasm, between the long standing restrictionist rhetoric of US anti-immigrant organizations such as FAIR, Numbers USA and Center for Immigration Studies which was echoed in our incoming new president's August 31 Phoenix, Arizona immigration address, and the much more welcoming, immigrant friendly proposals that Russia's President Putin announced on June 13, 2013.

    The English version of these proposals, appearing on the official Kremlin website, has the title:

    President of the Russian Federation approved the Concept of the state migration policy for the period up to 2025

    (In Russian: Prezident utverdyil Konseptsyoo gosydarstvennyoi migratsionnoi politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii na period do 2025 goda)

    http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/15635


    (If the above link comes up in Russian, click on Google "translate" or go to the following page and click on the link provided there):

    https://www.gfmd.org/pfp/ppd/2487


    Highlights of these proposals are as follows:

    "11. Migration of the Russian Federation Legislation does not fully comply with current and future needs of economic, social and demographic development, the interests of employers and Russian society as a whole. It is focused on attracting temporary foreign workers and does not contain any measures to facilitate the move to a permanent place of residence, adaptation and integration of migrants."
    (Emphasis added.)

    ...

    "13. ...there are no programs to attract a permanent place of residence of migrants in the country with the demand [for immigrants with] professional, educational, economic, demographic, socio-cultural and other characteristics that can successfully adopt and...integrate into Russian society. Difficulties in obtaining a temporary residence permit complicate the process of obtaining citizenship for the majority of law-abiding immigrants." (Emphasis added.)

    "14. The system of temporary migrant workers and determin[ing] the need for foreign labor needs to be improved...The current quota system is not perfect and requires excessive [lengthy] consideration of employer's applications and does not provide [for] the attraction of foreign workers for jobs in accordance with the stated needs of the employer."

    ...

    "17. Important elements of the state migration policy of the Russian Federation [should be] creating conditions for the adaptation and integration of migrants [and] protection of their rights and freedoms...Solving these problems is difficult [because of] undue difficulties in maintaining permanent resident status in the Russian Federation as well as the unresolved legal status of foreign citizens. As a direct result of the lack of state programs of adaptation and integration of migrants is the [sic] isolation from the host society and increase in negative attitudes toward immigrants."
    (Emphasis added.)

    Putin's above proposal is not only aimed at attracting qualified foreign workers, rather than putting unnecessary obstacles and barriers in their way, but also shows concern for fulfilling humanitarian obligations to refugees and displaced persons:

    "18. The need for state assistance in settling [and] housing internally displaced persons, improvement of the procedure for granting refugee status and temporary asylum for humanitarian reasons. In the 1990's...the Russian Federation received...1.5 million people [with the status of refugees or internally displaced people], but still legislatively fixed [sic] social obligations to them are not fully met."

    (The above paragraph does not specify how many, if any, of the millions of refugees or internally displaced persons who are fleeing from the Russian-backed Assad regime in Syria Putin is planning to accept into Russia.)

    Putin's proposal then continues in the above essentially immigrant-friendly vein as follows:

    "19. The experience of countries with an active immigration policy shows that migration processes accelerate socio-economic development and ensure the growth of the population's welfare. To realize the positive potential inherent in migration processes, the entire management system of the Russian Federation should be modernized." ​ (Emphasis added.)

    Certainly, the United States has to be counted among the counties with "an active immigration policy" that President Putin was referring to when he issued the above proposal almost four years ago.

    Nor is there any reason to believe that Putin's interest in following developments in the United States in any less now than it was then.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/1...nal-law-232787

    However, while Trump may be avidly following President Putin's lead on a variety of other issues, and there are also similar approaches between the two leaders regarding enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration, when it comes to attracting or admitting qualified, law-abiding legal immigrants to the United States, Trump gives every indication of heading on a path leading in the opposite direction from Putin's.

    This was evident from the strongly restrictionist tone of Trump's August 31 immigration manifesto, with its antipathy and suspicion toward all immigrants, as well as the president-elect's appointment of the head of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, to be his senior policy adviser.

    Just as some Russian extreme right wingers have attacked President Vladimir Putin for allegedly being too open to immigration from Central Asian countries, Bannon's Breitbart News, especially, has advocated undoing the half century of racial equality in our legal immigration system that America has had since the monumental immigration reform law of 1965 was enacted.

    Both of these developments will be discussed in further detail in my next post on this topic.
    _____________________________
    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 from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards.

    Roger believes that America's economy, society and democracy will benefit from continuing to attract qualified legal immigrants to the US from every part of the world, without discrimination or exclusion based on ethnic background, religion or national origin, and in keeping with our immigration laws and principles during the past half century.

    Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 12-19-2016 at 10:05 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Whither the Syrian Christian Refugees?

    As the Syrian city of Aleppo falls under government control, the question of Syrian refugees has become even more urgent. Forces loyal to the government are summarily murdering civilians, and even the wounded cannot be evacuated due to government (and Russian) military action. Despite heartbreaking "goodbye messages" from civilians trapped in the conflict zone, I have little expectation that the world will do much to help. We have ignored genocides again and again, so why should we expect anything different here?
    Which is easier to explain: The absence of Christian refugees, or the absence of Christian charity?
    Accepting Syrian refugees into the United States has also been controversial. Donald Trump called them "a great Trojan Horse." I suppose the same could be said of the Jews fleeing Hitler on the ship St. Louis, which reached our shores but was refused permission to land. I am sure many of those men, women, and children were secret Bolsheviks plotting a Communist takeover. Lucky for us, they were rejected and returned to Europe, where over 250 of them perished in the Holocaust.

    One gripe raised by those opposing the admission of Syrian refugees is that the refugees are disproportionately Muslim. In a recent concurring opinion, Judge Manion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, notes the mysterious absence of Christians from the pool of Syrian refugees arriving in the United States. See Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center v. DHS, 16-1840 (7th 2016). J. Manion writes:

    I write separately for a… critical reason, which is [to express] my concern about the apparent lack of Syrian Christians as a part of immigrants from that country…. It is well-documented that refugees to the United States are not representative of that war-torn area of the world. Perhaps 10 percent of the population of Syria is Christian, and yet less than one-half of one percent of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States this year are Christian…. [Of] the nearly 11,000 refugees admitted by mid-September, only 56 were Christian. To date, there has not been a good explanation for this perplexing discrepancy.

    Judge Manion's observation is supported by a recent report from the Pew Research Center, which found that in FY 2016:

    [R]efugee status was given to 12,587 Syrians. Nearly all of them (99%) were Muslim and less than 1% were Christian. As a point of comparison, Pew Research Center estimated Syria’s religious composition to be 93% Muslim and 5% Christian in 2010.

    The most accurate data I have found about Syrian refugees essentially lines up with the findings of Judge Manion and Pew: Of 12,541 Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. in FY 2016, between 0.5 and 1% self-identified as Christian. It is a bit less clear how many Christians lived in Syria prior to the current war. Estimates range from 5.1% (Pew) to 10% (CIA). But no matter how you slice it, it's clear that the Syrian refugees entering the U.S. are not representative of the country's population--fewer Christians than expected are coming to our country as refugees. So what's going on here?


    First, here is the conclusion that I don't accept--the one pushed by people opposed to Muslim immigration--that the Obama Administration is deliberately favoring Muslims over non-Muslims. I don't support this conclusion because, while a disproportionate majority of Syrian refugees are Muslim, the majority of refugees overall (from all countries), are not Muslim. In FY 2016, we admitted 38,901 Muslim refugees and 37,521 Christian refugees (out of a total of 84,995 refugees). In other words, in FY 2016, about 46% of refugees admitted to the U.S. were Muslim; 44% were Christian. (This was the first year of the Obama Administration where more Muslims than Christians were admitted as refugees).


    A more plausible explanation for the absence of Syrian Christians was proposed by Jonathan Witt, an Evangelical writer and activist, and an Obama critic. Basically, he believes that Muslims are more likely than Christians to end up in refugee camps, and since refugees are generally selected for resettlement from the camps, Christians are disproportionately left out. This part sounds logical, but (to me at least) Mr. Witt takes his argument a bit too far:

    As bad off as the Muslim refugees are, they aren’t without politically well-connected advocates in the Middle East. Many Muslim powerbrokers are happy to see Europe and America seeded with Muslim immigrants, and would surely condemn any U.S. action that appeared to prefer Christian over Muslim refugees, even if the effort were completely justified. By and large, they support Muslim immigration to the West and have little interest in seeing Christian refugees filling up any spaces that might have been filled by Muslim refugees.
    The deck, in other words, is heavily stacked against the Christian refugees. The White House has been utterly feckless before the Muslim power structure in the Middle East that is doing the stacking, and has tried to sell that fecklessness to the American people as a bold stand for a religion-blind treatment of potential refugees —religion tests are un-American! It’s a smokescreen.

    Here, he's lost me. This conspiracy-minded nonsense might be more convincing if there were some evidence for it (and remember, FY 2016 was the first year of the Obama Administration where we resettled more Muslim than Christian refugees). The prosaic arguments may be less interesting, but they have the vitue of being more likely.


    I have a few of my own theories as well. For one thing--and maybe this ties in with the first part of Mr. Witt's thesis--Syrian Christians were somewhat better off than Syrian Muslims. If they have more resources, maybe they were able to avoid the refugee camps by leaving in a more orderly way and by finding (and paying for) alternative housing. Also, Syrian Christians are generally not being targeted by the Assad regime. Indeed, in view of the threats they face from extremists, Syrian Christians are more likely to support the government--not because they have much affection for Bashar Assad, but because the alternative is even worse.


    So there very well may be a reasonable explanation for the lack of Christians among Syrian refugees resettling in the U.S. But because the Administration has not explained the anomaly, we are (as usual) left with an information void. And that void is being filled by speculation from fringe writers like Mr. Witt, but also by federal court judges, like Judge Manion. The solution should be obvious: Those involved in the refugee resettlement effort should tell us what's going on. This would help satisfy many critics and it will help protect the refugee program going forward.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
    Tags: obama, refugees, syria Add / Edit Tags
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