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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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Two biggies today. John Morton, a career prosecutor with experience in immigration enforcement at the Department of Justice was named by President Obama to head up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

More interesting to me is the appointment by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano of Esther Olavarria as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy. The pro-immigration community should be cheering loudly over Esther's appointment. She worked closely with Senator Ted Kennedy for a decade fighting for immigrants and she was one of the major architects of the comprehensive immigration reform efforts of recent years. I have no doubt Ms. Olavarria was appointed because the President and Secretary Napolitano are quite serious about designing and pushing a major immigration reform package and also making sure it is effectively implemented by DHS. Here's a little more about Esther's background:

Esther Olavarria brings nearly 20 years of experience on immigration
policy to her new job at the Department of Homeland Security. Most
recently, she was a Senior Fellow and Director of Immigration Policy at
the Center for American Progress, where she was responsible for
planning, developing and administering the organization's work on
immigration issues, with a principal focus on policy and advocacy
strategies on comprehensive immigration reform; planning and convening
roundtables and other venues for discussion, and conducting research
and write on immigration issues.

Prior to that, for nearly ten years, she was Counsel to Sen. Edward
Kennedy and the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security and Refugees. In that capacity, she served as Senator
Kennedy's chief counsel on immigration, border security, refugee and
nationality matters, working on myriad immigration proposals, including
comprehensive immigration reform.

She has also served as the Managing Attorney of the Florida
Immigrant Advocacy Center, Directing Attorney of the American
Immigration Lawyers Association Pro Bono Project, and staff attorney at
the Haitian Refugee Center, all based in Miami, Florida.


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  1. George Chell's Avatar

    Any idea what the views of the new commerce appointee, Gary Locke are regarding immigration?
  2. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I doubt there will be a lot of information on Governor Locke's views. He's been out of office for a while and a governor - until recently - usually didn't have much to say about immigration since that is the responsibility of the federal government. Locke is a Chinese-American (third generation) married to a Chinese-American child of Chinese immigrants. So I would hope he would be sympathetic. He's also from Washington State and I'm guessing is a free trader since Washington State is so heavily dependent on trade with Asia (and also is home to Microsoft). That would be good news for pro-immigrants as well.
  3. Kevin M. 's Avatar
    As an enforcement advocate, I am extremely disappointed with
    Esther Olavarria, a known illegal alien sympathizer. I know John Morton has been responsible for some arrests for employees at the LAX, for using fake documents to aquire jobs. But outside of that, his stance is veiled. At a time when we have millions out of work, and more to surely come, I can not fathom NOT cracking down on employers who are hiring illegals. President Obama just did a radio interview last week on a Florida spanish radio station, touting his future plans for amnesty. Harry Reid has confirmed that it is on the agenda for the fall. This is very disturbing in these economic times. We all know the last amnesty during the Reagan Admin. was a colossal failure. Now we are going to revist failed policies? A severe overhaul is need alright. Geared towards imprisoning, and more harsh civil penalties for employers, and making social services unavailable to those who are not citizens or legal residents. My spouse is a Mexican citizen, and we have 3 multi ethnic children together, so please fight the urge to shout the "racist" game.....Thanks.
  4. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Kevin - I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you're not a racist. I'm just amazed how many people in the anti-immigrant community are anglos married to foreign spouses or immigrants themselves. It would be an interesting sociology/psychology research project for someone to understand this phenomenon. I have my own theories, none of which you would like.
  5. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Kevin, Hitler was part-Jewish, so what is your point again? Also, how many of your personal friends are ready to take or have taken a job as a roofer, in a slaughterhouse, or picking vegetables? How soon will YOU take one of those jobs?
  6. ASDF's Avatar
    Hey Kevin,

    You might be the odd man out. But Lou Dobbs has already played the "my wife is mexican" part. Jeez! I saw the video of his in laws and they looked petrified before Dobbs.

    Any ways, Do you think Dobbs is just a populist and NOT a xenophobe?

    Now Already Durbin and Grassley are talking about another bill

    Folks in India are talking about banning Coke and Pepsi. We all Know that the only company to pay dividends was Coke. Guess what. Come Apr 1st, with the draconian H1B rules, removal of 6th year extensions as in the 2007 bill by grassley and durbin, with no whistle blower porotections will bring you happiness in the short term and gloom in the long term. Grassley and Durbin wants to change H1B with out changing the EB immigration that feeds off of H1B's. Smart senators.

    Senator Grassley! What kind of immigration do you want other than immigration from Western Europe?
  7. Another voice's Avatar
    LNLW has a great point all of this unemployment yet the vegetable picker jobs, dishwasher jobs, busboy jobs, landscaping jobs and many more positions continue to be snob by unemployed Americans, I guess the unemployment benefits are more appealing. These immigrants were here before the economic downturn hit and are still here today, so for anti-immigrants there is just never a good time to fix the broken immigration system, and I bet this guy KEVIN is not telling his wife how he really feels about Mexicans like her, I smell divorce....!!
  8. George Chell's Avatar
    "As an enforcement advocate, I am extremely disappointed with
    Esther Olavarria, a known illegal alien sympathizer."

    I hope your house is all paid for, and that you are not living in Arizona!
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    There is no equivalent legislation in the Hosue and if you think that this is equivalent to a stimilus package and it would be passed and signed into law in six weeks, you dont know much about Washington DC. Under the more anti-immigrant circumstances, Senator Alan Simpson and Rep. Mazolli tried even more draconian legislation back in 1984 targeted mostly at foreign students. It made it to the conference where it died!
  10. Jenda's Avatar
    Following Napolitano's appointment, Esther Olivarria's is good news to be sure, but I fear it may simply be part of a process of doling out rewards to disparate Democratic Party constituencies.
  11. Jack's Avatar
    'more harsh civil penalties for employers'

    Kevin, as you may know, the burden of proof makes things difficult, combined with fines which, even if widely applied, are inadequate in amount to provide much deterrence. What do you think of liens and asset forfeiture?

    'My spouse is a Mexican citizen, and we have 3 multi ethnic children together, so please fight the urge to shout the "racist" game'

    It says a lot about the climate for debate that pro-immigration law enforcement people feel it necessary to show a non-racist bona fides. People inclined to accuse someone of being a racist must love it when their rhetorical opponents are that on the defensive. I wouldn't bother with it, Kevin--just let your arguments stand or fall on their merit regardless of your suspected motivation. You will be suspect as a racist anyway but they will look like their arguments must not be that strong if they resort to name-calling right off the bat.

    'I have my own theories, none of which you would like.'

    Please give us a taste of what your theories are, Greg. Seriously, I am curious about what you came up with and will not say anything in response.

  12. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Kevin - Follow the string. You brought up the race card. Obviously it's something that has you all conflicted. Go see your shrink if you want to be diagnosed.
  13. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "What do you think of liens and asset forfeiture?"

    Welcome to the commie land! Everyone who wants to compete on an open market will have their tools of production taken from them. Nice!
  14. MS's Avatar
    When are they going to announce the nominee for USCIS? Thomas E Perez's name was mentioned in Washington Post, but his name was not announced.
  15. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    MS - I'm not sure how reliable that report was. Haven't heard the news yet.
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