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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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One of the options the President has had on the table - one every President has - is using an administrative option to provide temporary legal status and work authorization to those in the country illegally. Rumors have been spreading within the community of antis around the country and they've gotten a handful of hardcore anti-immigrant members of Congress to send a letter warning the President to drop the idea (if indeed it was really being considered.

How could President Obama do what the paralyzed Congress can't? Two options come to mind. He could look at a blanket policy using the same Temporary Protected Status provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act that allowed Haitians to remain in the US after the earthquake.

The INA reads as follows:

244(b) Designations.--

244(b)(1) In general.--The Attorney General, after consultation with appropriate agencies of the Government, may designate any foreign state (or any part of such foreign state) under this subsection only if--

244(b)(1)(A) the Attorney General finds that there is an ongoing armed conflict within the state and, due to such conflict, requiring the return of aliens who are nationals of that state to that state (or to the part of the state) would pose a serious threat to their personal safety;

244(b)(1)(B) the Attorney General finds that--

244(b)(1)(B)(i) there has been an earthquake, flood, drought, epidemic, or other environmental disaster in the state resulting in a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in the area affected,

244(b)(1)(B)(ii) the foreign state is unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return to the state of aliens who are nationals of the state, and 244(b)(1)(B)(iii) the foreign state officially has requested designation under this subparagraph; or

244(b)(1)(C) the Attorney General finds that there exist extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety, unless the Attorney General finds that permitting the aliens to remain temporarily in the United States is contrary to the national interest of the United States. 

Normally, the provision is used when there's a civil war, hurricane, earthquake, etc. But the little used 244(b)(1)(C) gives the President a lot more flexibility. He could say, for example, that the countries that depend on remittances from illegally present immigrants would suffer economic disaster that would befall such countries should we deport all of the millions of people here illegally meets the test. He could use the horrendous drug war going on in Mexico as the reason. I'm sure there are a variety of other reasons that could meet the test.

TPS is an interesting possibility because it would not offer any permanent immigration rights, but would remove the threat of deportation while Congress then can focus on passing a tough border security bill and also deal with the longer term legal immigration reforms that are needed.

Deferring a decision on the long term status of illegally present immigrants via TPS also could help change the politics. The immigrants would no longer be illegally present and this might help people get past the wall blocking progress on the issue. Congress could, in fact, keep TPS in place until most of the people currently in line for green cards are processed and only then look to coming up with a permanent fix for this population.

The members of Congress who protested to the President apparently think humanitarian parole is the option being considered. They argue that this option can only be used in a case by case manner. Of course, the President can order USCIS to liberally consider parole status in a very broad variety of circumstances and this could lead to something like the old 245(i) program that existed in years past. 

Here's the letter sent to the White House.

Letter to Obama on parole


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  1. USC's Avatar
    That is quite a despicable letter. I can't make out the last two signatures (Grassley, Hatch, Vitter, Bunnings and Chambliss are legible) . Thanks for posting this and bringing it to everyone's attention. Perhaps, your best post yet!
  2. Adi's Avatar
    I don't know validity of rumor. I really doubt it.

    Increased deportation, hunting of h1bs like roaches, anti nurse immigration attitude, making life difficult in general for those applying to USCIS/forign consulates, are some of the achievements of this administration.
  3. Adi's Avatar
    "I can't make out the last two signatures"

    Jim Inhofe

    Johnny Isakson

    Thad Cochran
  4. USC's Avatar
    "Jim Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Thad Cochran"

    Thank you!
  5. Another Voice's Avatar
    The republicans are married to the status quo on everything.....
  6. Jim's Avatar
    Good, that this is being considered. I bet this was considered when they finally admit that CIR can't be done and piece-meal legislations and further securing the border needs to be done ASAP and done separately. This option will fix the path to Citizenship provision on a CIR.

    See, almost everything on the CIR can be done separately. That is the only way now. Hope the perma CIR-only people advocates see it that way as well. Just accept the facts that anti-immigration politicians in Congress will always find a way to delay CIR or derail it somewhere in the process just like what they have been doing for years.

  7. Jack's Avatar
    "He could say, for example, that the countries that depend on remittances from illegally present immigrants would suffer economic disaster..."

    I don't see how dependence on remittances meets the temporary condition requirement.

    "(if indeed it was really being considered."

    I haven't read up on this--are they saying that the push is by pro-amnesty special interests AT the administration or from pro-amnesty zealots WITHIN the administration? What are the names of the pushers? That information would make me more interested.

  8. George Chell's Avatar
    All political ploy by each side to further fire up its base. The GOP to fire up its bigoted base in places such as Arizona..and the Dems to fire up Hispanics in CA and FL and maybe TX.

    Before the racists in the GOP attack Obama for being a moslem and a Marxist at the same time, I strongly suggest that they put aside their worship of legalities and the constitution and treat their fellow-Christians with decency. Otherwise they have exposed themselves to be what they are---BP and white skin worshipping pagans. Nikky Haley's conversion to Christianity was one of convenience and political expediency, not one of faith. Had she been of a slightly darker hue, the GOP would not have nominated her!
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    Lessons from the UK should also remind us that if ever illegal problems are solved, the antis will come after the legals. That is the way it is. If US did not have an illegal problem, Brewer and company would try to ban H1Bs and put an end to mail order brides especially if it involved Asian or Hispanic women. They will also like the British National Party call for the repatriation of non-whites to the country of their ancestors.

    Everyone wants work abroad to be an one-way street. 60% of Singaporeans want to work abroadand of these 60% dont want foreigners in their country. This came out in the open when its Table Tennis team made up mostly of Chinese born players won the world championships. There were folks at the Singapore's airport waiting to welcome the team. But there were also counter protesters suggesting that the team was not from Singapore and they should return to China. Similarly, brain drain from the UK is at its highest levels ever, with Brits taking jobs in Dubai, Singapore, China and elswhere but 80% of those Brits dont want foreigners working in their country. Anti-foreign worker sentiment comes down to greed and selfishness and in many cases plain bigotry. Once we go down the slipper slope that the UK is going down, there will be more people like me saying that they have no problems Brits kicking out foreigners as long as all Brits are kicked out of the countries they are working in. And I think that is a reasonable response to the policy position oof the tories....
  10. George Chell's Avatar
    Meanwhile, Canada's conservatives take the opposite stance...,1361165.html
  11. Jim's Avatar
    As I think about this option some more I think it's a brilliant idea. Just this one fix can possibly touch a lot of things. It of course renders the AZ bill moot but at the same time give what the people in AZ what they want - for the Fed to do their job. Now if these same people still complain about this then it just exposes them as antis pure and simple. No more "we welcome legals but hate illegals" and the use of "what in the word illegal do you not understand!?" because they will all be legal now.

    It then pave the way for piece-meal legislations such as the DREAM Act, AgJobs, Nursing shortage relief, etc...

  12. My 2 cents's Avatar
    Check this link, immigrants held respnsible for World Cup exit.
  13. George Chell's Avatar
    My argument is very simple. Give parole or residency to everyone married to US citizens and challenge the family values GOP to fight against it. Then deal with it on a case by case basis.
  14. George Chell's Avatar
    "Check this link, immigrants held respnsible for World Cup exit."

    Check this link, where Singaporeans instead of celebrating the World Championships in Table Tennis, instead decry the fact that the team was really China 2....

    One can understand whining after the loss, but whining about foreign born in a national team after they win a world championship..this mus be the first. I was at the airport when the team returned. I saw signs telling them to go back to China and give locals a chance. Never expected this of Singapore and never thought I would ever see this in my lifetime!
  15. George Chell's Avatar
    My 2 cents...

    Would like your comment on my last post..especially the comments in the second link!
  16. Grace's Avatar
    The administration gains nothing by answering this letter. After being obstructionist on immigration for most of the past two years, the Republicans are now demanding that the President promise that he won't do something that they've heard is a rumor! Responding gives the rumor credit, and it also undercuts the President's executive authority. As far as I'm concerned, this is akin to demanding an answer to the question of "how long have you been beating your wife?" the answer alone puts you in a hole.

    FWIW, I wish that the administration would do something like this - but I don't think that they have the courage to do this, especially in an election year. Maybe after the election, but before the next Congress meets?
  17. My 2 cents's Avatar
    My 2 cents...

    Would like your comment on my last post..especially the comments in the second link!

    George, The people complaining do have a point to a degree b'cos the TT players are born in China. China being a superpower in TT, these players would not be able to make it through the competition to reach the top. So they come over to Singapore & represent them. If these players identify themselves as Singaporean, then they won't be fussing a lot. This trend is very common is professional sports, so I do agree in part to the people complaining.
  18. George Chell's Avatar
    Singaporeans abroad dont take the identity of their adopted country either. And I wonder whether Olajuwan became truly "American". In the US we hate to loose..and that is the major difference in at least the sports. In Singapore the government hates to least regarding the economy. That is why, even a slight slowdown terrifies them.
  19. Jim's Avatar
    Italy blames foreign players for their world cup loss:,253284

    Sounds familiar??

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