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Chinese Immig. Daily
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by Chris Musillo
MU Law has just returned from Washington DC where we, along with a group of about ten stakeholders, met with close to twenty Senators to discuss how healthcare immigration might fit into the forthcoming Senate Comprehensive Immigration Bill. The discussions were largely productive with most Senator's staffs in favor of the bill. The consensus on The Hill is that the Senate's version of CIR is in the final stages of drafting and should be released in early to mid-April.
The particulars of the Senate CIR bill are still under lock and key. The most controversial pieces of the bill have not yet been finalized. One of the most difficult discussion is on a Guest Worker program. Most Senators believe that for a Comprehensive Immigration bill to be successful it must contain a way for US employers to sponsor foreign workers who do not fit into the H-1B category. The debate centers on where to draw the line. Depending on where the line is drawn a Guest Worker program could qualify a range of healthcare workers for Guest Worker sponsorship.
If the Senate can reach an agreement and a bill is released, the focus will turn to the House of Representatives. The House has its own group working on a bill. The conventional wisdom seems to be that the House will take the Senate's bill and then work on a similar but not identical bill. If the House can pass a similar CIR bill, then a Conference Committee will be formed.
The Conference Committee will consist of members of both the Senate and House. Their goal is to remedy inconsistencies between the two bills. If that Conference Committee can reach an agreement, the bill will pass both chambers of Congress and presented to President Obama. The President is expected to sign into law any reasonable bill that is presented to him.
Read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at www.musillo.com or www.ilw.com. You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
The good Congressman from Illinois takes ICE Director Morton to task for how the administration has implemented their harsh deportation and detention policies over the last four years.
Thank you Congressman Gutierrez.
...And by the way Director Morton, please stop lying about the number of criminal deportations.
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Now that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is finally on the table, I thought I would discuss my own "wish list" for reforming the asylum and humanitarian relief system. Human Rights First is in the forefront of the effort to include asylum reform in any CIR package, and they-along with scores of other organizations and law professors-have submittedrecommendations*to Congress and the President. Below is my own take on asylum reform, including some thoughts on Withholding of Removal and relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture:
- One Year Filing Deadline: The current law requires aliens to file for asylum within one year of their arrival in the United States. There are two exceptions to this rule: (1) changed circumstances (i.e., it was safe to return home when the alien arrived here, but something changed, and it is no longer safe to return home); and (2) extraordinary circumstances (i.e., something prevented the alien from filing for asylum-maybe she was a child and did not have the capacity to file, or maybe she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder). Aliens who cannot demonstrate an exception to the rule will be denied asylum if they file more than one year after they arrive in the U.S.
Also on my wish list: My Little Pony (with brush).
Supposedly the original purpose of the one-year rule was to prevent fraud. However, the real-life effect of the rule is to block legitimate refugees from obtaining asylum. One group in particular that has been negatively affected are LGBT asylum seekers. In many cases such people are not "out" when they arrive in the U.S., and it takes them time-often more than one year-to understand their sexual orientation and then decide to seek asylum. Other people harmed by the one-year rule include those who are emotionally unable to prepare their cases due to the severe traumas they suffered, people who do not know about the one-year requirement, and people who wait to seek asylum in the hope that country conditions back home will improve.
Having litigated dozens of cases where the one-year rule was a factor, I don't see how it ever prevented fraud. It is an arbitrary rule, which does nothing except block legitimate asylum seekers from obtaining relief. My number one hope for asylum reform is that the one-year rule will be eliminated.
- Asylum Clock: I have*written*previously about the Asylum Clock. When an alien files for asylum, DHS starts a "clock." When the clock reaches 150 days, the applicant can file for a work permit. If the applicant does anything to delay her case, the clock stops. Theoretically, when the delay ends, the clock should re-start. But thanks to ambiguous rules governing the Asylum Clock, that does not always happen.
Although I really can't stand the Asylum Clock, I suppose I recognize that it is a necessary evil. Prior to the clock, it was common for aliens to file frivolous asylum applications in order to obtain a work permit. In those days, cases took years to adjudicate, so anyone claiming asylum could work lawfully in the U.S. for years before their case was denied. The Asylum Clock, combined with the fact that asylum cases-at least at the Asylum Offices-are usually decided in a matter of months, have greatly reduced frivolous applications. Although it has helped to reduce fraud, the Asylum Clock is incredibly annoying.
The bottom line for me is that the presumption of the Asylum Clock should be in favor of keeping the clock moving. If an Asylum Officer or an Immigration Judge finds that the alien is purposefully delaying his case or that the case is frivolous, they should stop the clock. But the clock should not be stopped for legitimate delays (For example, sometimes an attorney must refuse an appointment date due to a conflict. When this happens, the clock stops. But why should the alien be penalized because the attorney is unavailable on a particular date?). My "wish" here is that the Asylum Clock rules will be re-written to make it easier and faster for asylum seekers to get their work permits.
- Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture ("CAT"): There are two distinct categories of people who receive Withholding or CAT instead of asylum. One group are people who are ineligible for asylum because they are criminals or human rights abusers. The other group are people who missed the one-year filing deadline for asylum (and receive Withholding) and people who face torture in their countries, but not on account of one of the protected grounds for asylum (they receive CAT). Aliens who receive Withholding or CAT receive a work permit, which must be renewed every year, but they can never become residents. Unlike asylees, they cannot petition to bring immediate family members to the U.S. and if they leave the U.S., they cannot return. Finally, because few people have these statuses, people with CAT or Withholding often have trouble obtaining a driver's license and convincing employers that they are lawfully present in the United States.
Frankly, I am not in favor of giving more benefits to criminals or human rights abusers who receive Withholding or CAT. Some immigration rights advocates would disagree with this (and there are legitimate reasons to disagree), but I feel that there should be consequences for our bad actions, and people who do not qualify for asylum due to their own bad conduct should suffer those consequences.
On the other hand, it is unfair to penalize people who receive Withholding or CAT because they missed a filing deadline, or because they face torture for some reason other than race, religion, nationality, particular social group or political opinion. My "wish" here is that such people receive some or all of the benefits normally given to asylum seekers. These people have done nothing wrong, and often they have suffered serious abuse in their homelands.
Well, that's enough for now. I have a few more wishes, but I will cover those in a future post.*
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:44 PM by JDzubow
Here are three brief thoughts about the latest immigration news.
1) News item: USCIS warns that the H-1B visas for FY 2014 may run out in the first week of April and a lottery might be required. (ID, March 18 and 19).
Comment: Say it ain't so, Joe.
2) News item: Senator Rand Paul (R. Kentucky) supports a Path to Citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants without saying it. (Politico, March 19).
Comment: CIR might be voted on without a 13-hour filibuster.
3) News item: Congressman Lamar Smith (R. Texas) states that America has a long way to go to keep up with the threat posed by asteroids and other objects from outer space (Huffington Post, March 20).
Comment: Lamar Smith, a long-time immigration restrictionist, is expanding his efforts to keep out unauthorized aliens.
The likely 2016 presidential candidate and darling of the libertarian right backs a path to citizenship. The number of opponents of CIR gets smaller. But he is backing an approach with benchmarks tied to progress on border security.