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  1. Justice Department to announce significant law enforcement action

    by , 10-27-2016 at 07:49 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    WASHINGTON – Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas and other law enforcement officials will hold a press conference TODAY, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. EDT, to announce a significant enforcement action.

    Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Criminal Division
    Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge
    U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George
    Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth

    Press conference announcing a significant law enforcement action.

    11:00 a.m. EDT

    Department of Justice

    7th Floor Press Conference Room
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20530



    NOTE: All media must present government-issued photo I.D. (such as driver’s license) as well as valid media credentials.
    Media must enter the department at the visitor’s entrance on Constitution Avenue NW between 9th and 10th Streets. Media may begin arriving at 10:00 a.m. EDT and cameras must be pre-set by 10:45 a.m. EDT. Press inquiries regarding logistics should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 514-2007 or

    by , 10-26-2016 at 10:00 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Maria Schneider

    Earlier this year in May the USCIS published a proposed rule to increase fees. On October 24, 2016, the final rule was published adjusting the fees for most immigration applications and petitions. The new fees will go into effect on December 23, 2016.

    The new fees are:

    Current Fee
    New Fee

    A full list of all of the new fees can be found on the USCIS website.

    The USCIS is almost entirely funded by the fees paid by applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits. The fee increase is the first in the last six years and. The fees will go up an average of 21 percent and will recover the costs associated with fraud detection and prevention and national security.

    Please read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at and You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  3. Today's Muslim immigrants and 1930's Jewish ones are the same as the "Bicycle Riders". Roger Algase

    Even during the darkest days of the Holocaust, the Jewish people never entirely lost their sense of humor. There was a joke about a Jewish man who is stopped in the street by a Nazi storm trooper. The Nazi shouts:

    "Tell me, Jew, who started the war?"

    The Jewish man, afraid of being sent to a concentration camp if he gave the wrong answer, replies::

    "The Jews, of course...and the bicycle riders.".

    The Nazi looks puzzled. He says:

    "I understand about the Jews, but why the bicycle riders?"

    The Jewish man answers:

    "Why the Jews?"

    Incidentally, in New York, especially in the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I live, it it important to watch out for the bicycle riders Including, but by no means limited to, the ubiquitous restaurant delivery men who speed by so fast that they can be very dangerous.if one isn't looking out for them. .

    It would be quite fair to say that most New Yorkers are far more concerned about the chances of being hit by a bicycle than they are about being attacked by terrorists.

    However, to get to the point of this comment, when it comes to immigration policy, there is a tendency among many of our elected officials to scapegoat Muslim immigrants in general, especially wherever there is a terror attack in the US or any Western country, while looking at the Jews as the innocent "bicycle riders", as in the above story.

    But this was not always the case, at least as far as the American public was concerned.

    During the 1930's and 1949's, many Americans were afraid to admit Jewish refugees because of the unfounded fear, (comparable to what 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner recently called "nightmare speculation" in referring to claims concerning the alleged dangers of admitting Syrian Muslim refugees in an October 3 decision which I have written about in more detail in previous comments) that the Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler might be "Nazi agents".

    Today's often repeated fears that Muslim Syrian refugees might be "allied with ISIS" (or, even less likely, that they might be "terrorists" connected with the Syrian government whom the ISIS terrorists are trying to overthrow) are on the same level and are equally unfounded

    Moreover, some Americans with white nationalist or "alt right" views even regard the whole concept of allowing Muslim immigration in the US as a "Jewish" plot today.

    See, Kevin MacDonald (January 23)

    Jewish Fear and Loathing of Donald Trump [2]: "New York Values" vs. Muslim Immigration

    MacDonald writes (in reaction to Trump's Muslim ban which had been announced the previous month]:

    "The common denominator in many of the comments of Jewish organizations [opposing the Muslim ban]: hysteria about the singling out of a group. For example, Jeffrey Greenblatt of the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] wailed 'A plan that singles out Muslims and denies them entry to the U.S. based on their religion is deeply offensive and runs counter to our nation's deepest values''...

    But I can see why the Jewish organizations are upset. Singling out a group because members of the group are more likely to commit terrorist acts reminds Jews that anti-Jewish attitudes have often resulted from Jews actually being likely to have attitudes or behaviors that the majority finds objectionable."

    MacDonald then gives examples of charges made against Jewish immigrants in the 1930's which he and his fellow anti-semites apparently find quite justified (as did all too many Americans at the time) but which no observer who is not consumed with anti-Jewish hatred would ever take seriously now.

    I will go into further detail about these charges, which virtually everyone (except for MacDonald and his fellow extremists) now recognizes as vicious lies, but which 80 years ago led to America's refusal to admit thousands of Jewish refugees who would have survived the Holocaust if they had been allowed in, in Part 2 of these comments.

    Also, see the above link for more details.

    Why am I repeating the kind of vile antisemitic propaganda contained in MacDonald's above referred to article?

    Obviously, not because any of it has even the slightest grain of truth, but to show that Jewish immigrants have been the objects of the same kind of hatred in the past (and, in the case of Kevin MacDonald and his ilk, still are) as Muslims are today.

    There are those, of course, who agree that it was wrong to spread hatred against Jewish immigrants in the 1930's but contend that it is OK to do the same in the case of Muslim immigrants today.

    Their argument is that even though the Jews as a group have never in fact posed a danger to America, Muslims, as a group, really. allegedly, are potentially dangerous and should be kept out or looked at with great anxiety and suspicion.

    My question would then be: whom will today's Islamophobes go after next?

    The answer should be obvious - the bicycle riders.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 10-26-2016 at 09:01 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. The Asylum Backlog, Revisited (Ugh)

    I haven't written about the asylum backlog in awhile. Mostly, that's because the subject is too depressing. Cases are taking years. Many of my clients are separated from their spouses and children. A number of my clients have given up, and left the U.S. for Canada or parts unknown. The backlog has also made the job of being an asylum attorney more difficult and less rewarding--both financially and emotionally. That said, I suppose an update on the backlog is overdue. But I warn you, the news is not good.
    “Let’s talk about the asylum backlog… again.”

    The most recent report from the USCIS Ombudsman—which I have been trying not to look at since it came out in June—indicates that the affirmative asylum backlog (the backlog with the Asylum Offices, as opposed to the Immigration Court backlog) has increased from 9,274 cases on September 30, 2011 to 128,303 cases as of December 31, 2015. This, despite significant efforts by the Asylum Division, and the U.S. government, to address the issue.

    The Ombudsman’s report lists five main reasons for the dramatic increase in backlogged cases: (1) high volume of credible and reasonable fear interviews; (2) a rise in affirmative asylum filings; (3) increased numbers of filings with USCIS by unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings; (4) the diversion of Asylum Office resources to the Refugee Affairs Division; and (5) high turnover among asylum officers. Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on.

    First, the number of credible and reasonable fear interviews at the border have increased significantly over the last several years (when an asylum seeker arrives at the border, she is subject to a credible or reasonable fear interview, which is an initial evaluation of asylum eligibility). The numbers for FY 2015 were slightly down from a high of about 50,000 interviews in FY 2014, but FY 2016 looks to be the busiest year yet in terms of credible and reasonable fear interviews. The reasons that people have been coming here in increased numbers has been much discussed (including by me), and I won’t re-hash that here. I do suspect that the upcoming election—and talk of building a wall—is causing more people to come here before the door closes. Maybe after the election, regardless of who wins, the situation will calm down a bit.

    Second, the number of affirmative asylum applications has also increased. There were 83,197 applications in FY 2015—up 130% from FY 2011. There are probably many reasons for the increase, but I imagine the chaotic situation in the Middle East, violence in Central America and Mexico, and political persecution in China are important “push factors.” The relatively strong U.S. economy and the presence of ethnic communities already in the United States are a few factors “pulling” migrants to our country.

    Third, an increased number of minors in removal proceedings have been filing their cases with the Asylum Division. Unaccompanied minors who have a case in Immigration Court are entitled to a non-confrontational asylum interview at the Asylum Office. The number of these children requesting an interview has increased from 718 in FY 2013 to 14,218 cases in FY 2015, and these cases have added to the Asylum Division’s case load.

    Fourth, President Obama has increased the “refugee ceiling” from 70,000 to 85,000. In order to process these cases and bring the refugees from overseas, the Refugee Affairs Division has been borrowing asylum officers—about 200 such officers will be sent to the RAD for two months stints. And of course, if they are working on refugee cases, they cannot be working on asylum cases.

    Finally, the Asylum Division’s efforts to reduce the backlog have been hampered by a high turnover rate among Asylum Officers. According to the Ombudsman’s report, the attrition rate for Asylum Officers was 43% (!) in FY 2015. Some of the “attrition” was actually the result of officers being promoted internally, but 43% seems shockingly high.

    As a result of these factors, wait times have continued to grow in most offices. The slowest office remains Los Angeles, where the average wait time for an interview is 53 months. The long delays in LA are largely because that office has a high proportion of credible and reasonable fear interviews (“CFIs” and “RFIs”). New York, which is the only office where wait times have decreased, has an average wait time of just 19 months. The NY office does not have a detention facility within its jurisdiction, and so there are fewer CFIs and RFIs. As a result, the NY office is better able to focus on “regular” asylum cases and can move those cases along more quickly.

    The Ombudsman report also discusses post-interview wait times, which stem from “pending security checks, Asylum division Headquarters review, or other circumstances.” The wait time between a recommended approval and a final approval has increased from 83 days in FY 2014 to 105 days for FY 2016. Also, the delay caused by Headquarters review has increased to 239 days in FY 2016 (I wrote about some reasons why a case might be subject to headquarters review here). In my office, we have been seeing delays much longer than these, primarily for our clients from Muslim countries.

    The report discusses delays related to Employment Authorization Documents (“EADs”). Regulations provide for a 30-day processing time for EADs, but USCIS “regularly fails to meet” that deadline. Indeed, the processing time for EADs at the Vermont Service Center is “at least 110 days,” which—based on my calculations—is somewhat longer than the 30-day goal. One improvement in this realm is that EADs for asylum applicants will now be valid for two years instead of one (this change went into effect earlier this month). If EADs are valid for a longer time period, USCIS will have fewer EADs to renew, and hopefully this will improve the overall processing time.

    The Asylum Division has responded to this mess by (1) hiring new officers; (2) establishing new sub-offices; (3) publishing the Affirmative Asylum Scheduling Bulletin (I discuss why the Bulletin is not a good predictor of wait times here); and (4) developing new EAD procedures.

    The number of new Asylum Officers has increased from 203 in 2013 to over 400, as of February 2016, and USCIS was authorized to employ a total of 533 officers in FY 2016. USCIS has also been trying to mitigate the high level of turnover. They created the “Senior Asylum Officer” position, which, aside from offering a fancy title, may allow for a higher salary, and they have scaled up their training programs in order to get more officers “on line.”

    In addition, USCIS has opened new sub-offices, including one in Crystal City, Virginia, which will (hopefully) employ 60 officers to conduct exclusively CFIs and RFIs by phone or video link. Supposedly, the Crystal City office will assist Los Angeles with its CFIs and RFIs in an effort to reduce the close-to-eternal backlog in that office.

    Finally, USCIS is trying to improve the EAD process. One change is that applicants who move their case from one Asylum Office to another will no longer be penalized for causing delay. Previously, if an applicant caused delay, her Asylum Clock would be stopped and she could not get her EAD. USCIS has also proposed a rule change so that an applicant’s EAD will automatically be extended when she files for a new card. I wrote about this proposed (and much-needed) change almost one year ago, and it has yet to be implemented. Lastly, as mentioned, EADs are now valid for two years instead of one.

    So there you have it. There is no doubt that USCIS and the Asylum Division are making efforts to improve the situation. But unless and until the crisis at the border subsides, it seems unlikely that we will see any major improvements in the way cases are progressing through the system. So for now, we will wait, and hope.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  5. Consulting Firm Settles with DOL Concerning H-1B Workers

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Larry S. Merck approved a settlement between consulting firm, Indus Group Inc., and the administrator of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, under which Indus will pay $214,785 in back wages to three H-1B computer programmer workers. Of the three employees, one is being paid $106,860 and the others - $57,760 and $50,160. The company has also agreed to pay $9,120 in penalties.

    According to the consent findings, the administrator found that in addition to owing back wages to the H-1B employees, the company did not cooperate in the investigation. However, Indus has now agreed to pay to pay the back wages as a “good faith resolution” of the dispute, according to the settlement.
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