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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Backed in to a Corner

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Most people think that if you are married to a US citizen and have demonstrated that the marriage is genuine, you get a green card. Right? Wrong. If your immigrant spouse entered the country without inspection (be it recently or when he or she was a young child), the spouse is required to leave the country apply for an immigrant visa. Leaving immediately triggers a bar of 3 or 10 years and then you have to go through the process of applying for a hardship waiver in order to be able to get the immigrant visa and return. That could mean waiting for months or even years outside the country. An unknown number of families - probably in the hundreds of thousands - are unwilling to be separated. And given the dangerous situation in some countries (e.g. Ciudad Juarez, the murder capital of the world), its more than just the emotional pain of separation driving the decision.


The proposed change to immigration rules announced yesterday would allow people to apply for that hardship waiver in the US which means that the wait outside the US for the immigrant visa will be quite short - a matter of days or a few weeks.


The antis who are decrying this move as an amnesty really don't do themselves any benefit if their goal is to win the hearts and minds of the American public. Only extremists support the idea of forcing these couples to live apart or make the American spouse have to go in to exile.


Most people think illegally present immigrants should be punished for violating immigration law. But just as we don't impose life in prison for public drunkenness or sentence one to the death penalty for shoplifting, we shouldn't make a decade - or possibly a lifetime - barred from returning to the US the only available punishment for violating immigration laws. Fines, forcing immigrants to take English tests, pay back taxes, do community service, etc. are all alternatives that are proportionate to the offense.


The folks going on the airwaves to attack the President on this move benefiting US citizens (as well as DREAMers, members of the military and other sympathetic groups) just come off as jerks (actually, a few stronger words come to mind). President Obama is turning out to be a better politician than many initially assumed. He is coming up with administrative remedies that are highly tweaked to benefit the most sympathetic individuals. The pro-immigration community has moved away from the ideal, but politically impossible, comprehensive immigration all or nothing push to endorse smaller achievable improvements and we're finally seeing progress.


By the way, here's a clip from Erin Burnett's show on CNN last night featuring a debate between my friend David Leopold and Kris Kobach, the fellow who wrote that lovely law in Arizona. A perfect illustration of what I'm talking about. David comes off as sympathetic and the voice of reason. Grumpy Kobach wants those kids to get off his lawn.

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  1. George Chell's Avatar
    "The antis who are decrying this move as an amnesty really don't do themselves any benefit if their goal is to win the hearts and minds of the American public. Only extremists support the idea of forcing these couples to live apart or make the American spouse have to go in to exile."

    Considering the fact that at least some of a candidate's supporters if not the candidate himself do not like the idea of white people adopting Asians, I am not very surprised that these antis including Lamar Smith of Texas thing along these lines and hide behind the law.....

    http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/183309/158/Anti-Huntsman-Ad-Hits-Home-For-Families-With-Adopted-Children

    May be Mr. Paul is innocent as he claims but considering the fact that he and his bigoted son have been in the forefront of the folks who want to repeal the 14th amendement, I would not be surprised if Ron Paul supports the banning of foreign adoption, as it may "violate" the sovereignty of this country! And there are plenty of crazies in this country who follow him like a cult figure.


  2. George Chell's Avatar
    And by the way Kris Koblach is a bigot and I do not know how he gets along with Sam Brownback.
  3. JoeF's Avatar
    A bunch of the Ron Paul followers don't actually know all of his crazy ideas. They just don't think things through.
    One of my FB friends who is shilling for Paul, basically a Fanboi (in the Apple Fanboi sense, with a reality distortion field), regularly gets heat about Mr. Paul's stance on anything from abortion to immigration...
    The Paul followers are pretty much like a cult. Rational arguments don't work.
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    One can only hope that he gets destroys by a combination of Romney, Gingrich and Santorum down south. And I am afraid that his son Rand Paul would emerge in 2016.
  5. Jack's Avatar

    "But just as we don't impose life in prison for public drunkenness or sentence one to the death penalty for shoplifting, we shouldn't make a decade - or possibly a lifetime - barred from returning to the US the only available punishment for violating immigration laws. Fines, forcing immigrants to take English tests, pay back taxes, do community service, etc. are all alternatives that are proportionate to the offense."

    As you know, immigration law is not the same as ordinary criminal or civil law. The immigration law does not provide for do your time and then just stay. It's not pay your ticket and go about your way.

    "Most people think illegally present immigrants should be punished for violating immigration law."

    And then go about their way--in the U.S.? No, I think most people don't want people to be here if they're not supposed to be here. Some are soft on deportation once they're here (particularly for a long time), but if we don't authorize it, the silent majority don't want people to be here in the first place. This is why open border people are so opposed to prevention. Practically everybody else (even the softies) agree with the idea of prevention. For most people, it's not about punishing people.

    "Punishment then stay" denies the right of the sovereign to control who resides within its borders. The immigration system goes from who we say can be here to everyone can be here if they do x,y,z. As a sovereign nation state, we have the right to decide who should be here. With "punishment then stay", it's up to whoever wants to show up. If they want to stay, we must provide a way. The U.S. may not refuse to harbor persons--it's up to the person. It creates a right to permanent residency which does not exist. It perverts from a limited immigration system to a de facto unlimited immigration system. That's Luis Gutierrez's way:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-luis-gutierrez/immigration-deportation-a_b_1184215.html

    The deportation process provided by the law (which is not a punishment) is illegitimate. Go about your way. Rule of law? Luis says he's proudly for it--just not rule of immigration law I guess. He's admitted DREAM is just a Trojan horse. Every special treatment afforded "DREAMers" is also what is wanted for virtually all unlawfully present aliens.

    I agree Obama is attempting a cynical but potentially effective strategy. I think his goal is to pander on hard to understand issues which the special interest will perceive as "for them" but not hurt him with the average voter. He knows such issues will be barely mentioned by English language media but be front page/top story in Spanish language media. The downside I see is that some of the English articles are open about him playing politics with immigration and quoting pro-pander commentators:

    "If 2011 was the White House's attempt to win back the center, 2012 is about mobilizing the base," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a group that advocates an immigration overhaul. "They are realizing that they need a huge turnout of Latino votes in Florida and in the West."

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-immigration-20120107,0,5923586.story


    He's not going to push for CIR which has something to offend everybody. There's two ways DREAM can be looked at. One is the Trojan horse for more legalization. But it could backfire if you already took care of the most sympathetic violators of the law, it could then make it easier for people to say "Who cares about the ones who chose to violate the law?"

  6. Another Voice's Avatar
    Plus the one thing the media fails to mention is that what the administraci?n is doing is within their constitucional power and the Repuks and antis ar? mad because they just got bypassed and they can't do anything about it. All they want to do is say no ti anything immigration. NOT this time, I hope they swim in it until their hands turn pruny.
  7. Another Voice's Avatar
    Swim in it Jack LOL and welcome some new legal immigrants to the US!!!!
  8. George Chell's Avatar
    ""Punishment then stay" denies the right of the sovereign to control who resides within its borders."

    SINO...not the code word for the Chinese but may as well be. Until the US pays down its debt it is Sovereign In Name Only!
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    I will buy that the GOP is for legal immigration when they get Charles Grassley to back down from his deluded if we get one less migrant that jobs goes to an American stance while at the same time he and his fellow Republicans push for policies that moves jobs abroad. Their goal is two fold: screw the American worker while pretending they are helping them and make sure America stays white even if it is unemployed!
  10. Immigration Attorneys's Avatar
    Let's face it. Everything changes.
  11. George Chell's Avatar
    As I said SINO...Sovereignty in Name Only....

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-01-08/debt-equals-economy/52460208/1?
  12. Jack's Avatar
    "David comes off as sympathetic and the voice of reason."

    I thought he came off as disingenuous when he referred to the change as a "minor processing change". I'm guessing all forms of anti-enforcement executive action, however major, will be spun that way to the general audience.
  13. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "I thought he came off as disingenuous when he referred to the change as a "minor processing change". I'm guessing all forms of anti-enforcement executive action, however major, will be spun that way to the general audience. "

    Nah, Jack, it's just your bigotry talking...
  14. Jack's Avatar
    "Nah, Jack, it's just your bigotry talking..."

    Where is the bigotry in what I posted? My observation related to what I thought was an interesting, biased-sounding choice of words. If a Republican president had switched from the new policy to the old policy would someone like Leopold use the euphemistic sounding phrase "minor processing change"? I doubt it, but maybe Dan Stein or Kris Kobach would in that case. However, I've noticed Kobach did not make any accusations that Obama had done something improper. I wonder if a Republican president who had switched from the new policy to the old would be accused of impropriety? Anyway, if the new policy is such a minor change, why wasn't it done 3 years ago? Why all of a sudden is it being rolled out now? Why is action being taken to advantage those who violated the law but nothing done for citizens who have relatives who want to come and are following the rules? Who is Obama's priority?

  15. Another Voice's Avatar
    " Anyway, if the new policy is such a minor change, why wasn't it done 3 years ago? Why all of a sudden is it being rolled out now? Why is action being taken to advantage those who violated the law but nothing done for citizens who have relatives who want to come and are following the rules? Who is Obama's priority?"

    It's called politics Jack perhaps you have heard of it!!! If it quacks like a duck and moves like a duck it must be a duck, sort of like your racism, let's call it what it is. You keep driving that wedge Jack you know you have an audience here for the legal v. Illegal argument keep playing that tune. But is funny to see that now you are pro family immigration I thought you called that chain Immigration in the past did you have a change of heart??? Ohhhh Jack found his heart.....
  16. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I have to agree with AV in characterizing the typical anti. They talk about law and order and punishing people who don't comply with immigration laws. And how they have nothing against immigrants - they just want people to play by the rules.

    Then in every conversation about legal immigration, they role out the protectionist talking points and end up making the argument against reform. No raising any quotas, liberalizing any arcane rules, or otherwise doing anything which would potentially affect the number of immigrants.

    Of course, Numbers USA, FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies don't deny this. Racist? Sure. But at least they're honest about it. It's the ones who lie and say they are pro-immigration - just legal immigration - who then behind the scenes block every measure that could be described as pro-legal immigration. Or do nothing to actively push for legal immigration reform despite the rhetoric praising it. They're the real hypocrites here.
  17. Jack's Avatar
    "It's the ones who lie and say they are pro-immigration - just legal immigration - who then behind the scenes block every measure that could be described as pro-legal immigration."

    I am thinking of ones who insincerely say "secure the border FIRST". For some, it's just a pretext for legalization; for others the security goalposts would never stop moving.

    Then there are ones who say they are anti-illegal immigration who are against every measure that could be described as anti-illegal immigration. They SAY "we must enforce our laws" (referring to immigration law) but DO everything they can to undermine those laws and obstruct their enforcement.
  18. Another Voice's Avatar
    All those people play in your team Jack you must know some of them on the first name basis....
  19. Another Voice's Avatar
    Looks like Jack's friends are going to work...

    For the fans of the legal v illegal see who your friends are....

    Anti-Immigration Group Makes South Carolina Ad Buy

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/anti-immigrant-south-carolina-ad_n_1197807.html?ref=latino-voices&ir=Latino+Voices&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009
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