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The Proposal from the Gang of 8. Former House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith's (R-TX) had this to say about the senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (CIR) proposal, "We have been down this road before. Politicians promise to enforce the law in return for amnesty. Then after the amnesty program has been implemented, they fail to make good on the enforcement promise." He was referring to IRCA, the 1986 bill that authorized the last legalization program. IRCA was supposed to give lawful status to the undocumented aliens who were already in the country and prevent a new group from taking their place by using employer sanctions to eliminate the job magnet that draws undocumented aliens to the United States. Approximately 2.7 million people were legalized in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) figures show that by the beginning of 1997, they had been replaced entirely by a new group of undocumented aliens. A CIR bill that does not deal with this concern will not pass in the House. It is the sine qua non of immigration reform. Members of the Gang of 8 say that their proposal deals with the IRCA issue, but it doesn't. It is worth noting that Senate republicans can vote for a bill that does not deal with that issue. They know it will be dead on arrival in the House, so they can support it in the Senate to curry favor with the Hispanics without fear that it is going to be enacted.
The prospective "guest worker" system described here for filling labor needs other than professional or academic positions is basically what is in place already in Canada.
Although a bit more bureaucratic than necessary, the Canadian foreign worker program works very well, but it does relay upon government agencies which track the rise and fall of demand in all sorts of labor categories. An employer must prove to the Immigration Service that Canadian workers cannot be found for any particular labor need. This is done through a simple process of advertising which is clearly described by immigration. If insufficient response by Canadian workers is demonstrated, the employer is given permission to hire the number of foreign workers needed for a stated length of time at a stated rate of pay...also determined by government generated labor statistics.
At this point, the employer can choose to travel to country X to interview candidates for the work he/she offers, or the employer can contract a recruitment agency to find candidates in a foreign country, present them for interview and testing, and eventually process their applications for work permits, visas, etc. By Canadian law, the employer MUST pay all costs for this recruitment effort. The entire process from determining a labor need to welcoming the foreign worker as he/she enters the Canadian workforce takes an average of 4-6 months.
On another issue...there is widespread popular misunderstanding about the undocumented persons living in the USA...that they are "line-jumpers" in terms of application for legal immigration. A large nimber of those who are living and working in the USA without legal permission have applied for legal status, but spend the YEARS they must wait for the approval or rejection process to elapse living and working as "illegals" in the USA!
The unpublished BIA decision on February 1, 2013 [linked below], illustrates the point that changed personal circumstances are relevant in excusing an asylum applicant's failure to file for political asylum within one year of entry to the United States. In this case, the immigration judge concluded that changed personal circumstances did not excuse the respondent from the one year filing deadline, stating in the lower decision that "The respondent did not file within one year, and has not satisfied the court that there are any exceptions, whether or not changed country conditions. In this case, the respondent has changed personal circumstances. That in itself is not one of the exceptions as contemplated by Congress." The Board disagreed in upholding the appeal that "While we agree with the immigration judge that 'changed personal circumstances' do not, in and of themselves, constitute an exception to the filing deadline for asylum, we recognize that changed personal circumstances may form the basis of an exception under section 208(a)(2)(D) of the Act...."
I fear that the well-intended Help Separated Families Act is another step down the road of the federal government inserting itself into an area tradtionally relegated to state law: family relations. The first step was the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which, as federal law, has given states the right to ignore the marriage acts of other states, in violation of the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution.
A better effort that does not involve the federal government making more incursions in this area would be for the family law bars of the fifty states to effectively change their own states's custody determination processes and implied legal standards.
This is one of those laws that sounds good as a sound bite---who does'nt like a guy trying to reunite sad-faced children with their parents?--but will have unintended consequences that we're not really confortable living with.
LGBT folks should fight for equal rights in marriage in all 50 states and same sex marriage should be recognized at federal level then they can fight for equal rights in sponsoring their spouses.
Forcing pro LGBT agenda on the current immigration reform legislation will poison the whole deal. Equal rights to marry first then equal rights in immigration rights will and should follow.
Regarding "back to the line" thing, undocumented immigrants should be given only 10 years renewable work and travel authorization without automatic path to citizenship, those who wish to adjust status must find their own ways by any available categories (marriage, skill or education based or investment based) just like anybody else. Undocumented immigrants should be grateful with the ability to work legally and travel in and out of the country without any fear any more. This will satisfy some Republicans who see "easy citizenship" as amnesty.
Regarding securing the border thing, no countries on Earth can truly seal their borders but they can make sure all employers in their jurisdictions comply with labor and immigration laws when hiring employees.
Hong Kong S.A.R and Singapore have very liberal visa requirement by giving so many citizens from many countries visa free facility to let as many tourists to visit the territories and spend money there but they enforce their labor and immigration laws vigorously to ensure no local employers are cheating by hiring unauthorized foreigners. By making sure our employers obey the laws we can give many more foreigners easy visitor visas with confident so many more foreign tourists will come to the US and spend money to create jobs and boost our economy and we are sure they won't work without permission because we will punish all employers who cheat the laws.
Regarding Family based immigration, we should abolished it all together except for minor dependents and spouses of legal Permanent Residents and citizens. All legal residents or citizens can surely sponsor their foreign parents with long term temporary resident visas with conditions that they will be responsible for their health care and financial needs while in the US without seeking employment and they can show they have adequate resources to cover their parents expenses.
No China EB-5 Retrogression in Sight
The March Visa Bulletin notes contain the following statement:
Item D of the December 2012 Visa Bulletin alerted readers that a China cut-off date might be imposed at some point during the second half of the fiscal year. Currently there is no reason to believe that it will be necessary to establish a China Employment Fifth preference category cut-off date during FY-2013, since demand over first six months of FY-2013 has now averaged out to a manageable level.
The March Visa Bulletin says no retrogression will be required this fiscal year.
It came out yesterday.
After nearly three weeks, we finally get the minutes from the BOG vacation in Panama published. As usual, one can only read in disbelief. Let's go over them point by point, keeping in mind that we never saw the promised background materials ala Crystal Williams, but I guess if I reminded everyone of that again I wouldn't be setting the correct tone, and one knows that when it comes to AILA, tone counts more than substance (or lack thereof)...LMAO
National Office Update: It's nice that although our Executive Director thought it appropriate to mention her forthcoming medical leave to the BOG meeting, nothing was ever published on InfoNet or announced to the general membership. But AILA's already been discredited on that count.
AIC Report: Why an allegedly "independent" organization would be presenting at our BOG meeting would normally raise an eyebrow or two, but not when one remembers that AIC is not independent at all. "Mr. Johnson also noted the important partnership with AILA and AIC in just about every aspect of the organization." Seriously, what else needs to be said? AIC is AILA's advocacy arm, our dues pay for about $600,000 of their funding every year, and that alleged independence has also already been discredited.
Allocation of Net Revenues: does anyone know what the "AILA Ethics Companion" is, who will be writing it (and collecting royalties?), what "phase one" is, why it is needed, and what the total cost is expected to be? Granted $30,000 is nothing to AILA, but if it rates its own line item and special resolution then I think the members should have some idea. If it doesn't offend anyone's sense of propriety, that is.
2013 Annual Plan and Budget: the first time we see the nebulous phrase "discussion ensued". Wouldn't it be nice to know what points were raised in the discussion, or by whom? Was there any disagreement? Was this like the annual meeting, where it's simply more convenient to not make official note of certain things in the minutes? A motion to "direct AILA to play a leadership role in advocating for CIR"? Any idea as to what parts of CIR, what priorities are most important, or how to define a leadership role? Nope, nada, and no way. Why that might require polling the membership. No, it's better to say AILA favors CIR without having to define what CIR might contain? Brilliant!
But wait, there's more! A resolution to allow the ExCom unfettered discretion and power to spend as much of our dues money as that august group sees fit on AILA's advocacy efforts, with no oversight whatsoever. Once again, we are not a professional association existing for the benefit of our members, but an advocacy organization. And one which can spend money for objectives which are yet unnamed, other than "CIR", whatever that encompasses. Shame on the eunuch members of the BOG, for if the resolution passed unanimously there is simply no point in having a BOG. Have I struck the right tone yet, dears?
Last, the Executive Director, you know, the one who won't be here for an indeterminate amount of time, was directed to prioritize advocacy efforts by the staff. Which if she were here, would no doubt do.
Resolution to Revise Financial Rules: "Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules!", so speaketh the BOG. We needed to "add reimbursement of all travel expenses for national officers related to their attendance at the Annual Conference"? What weren't we paying for already? Same for the resolution attending liaison meetings.
Announcing the Individual Vote Totals: fortunately forced upon the leadership due to membership pressure. Interesting that it was the only vote which didn't pass unanimously, although my personal suspicion is that's because the leadership was against it and made their position quite clear.
Advocacy Priorities: so "Board members were invited to present their views", yet not even the barest recap of what those views might be was recorded, only "extensive discussion ensued". What a crock. If you're going to take minutes at an official meeting then take down what is said. How can anyone who wasn't there get a feel for anything if all they ever read is "extensive discussion ensued"? Why do we bother to have minutes?
New Business: let's face it, my personal favorite when it comes to the leadership once again showing its blatant hypocrisy and disdain for the membership. The President announced the formation of a "Transparency Taskforce" because the issue "has been on the table for the past couple of years" and she thinks "it is important to analyze". Again, while I am certainly glad that the leadership has been forced to start to deal with transparency issues, how can anyone believe for a moment that they really care? Let's forget for the moment that despite repeated requests, the agenda for this BOG meeting wasn't released until a couple of days before the meeting itself and this item wasn't on it - which I will forgive because I have no doubt the idea came to our President while on the plane ride down to Panama and not before, and besides it was "new business' - but it obviously was of such little import that it wasn't even mentioned by the informal summary provided by Sarah Peterson Stensrud posted on the MC nor was it ever announced in the Just Posted section of InfoNet, despite the endless, endless garbage that is posted there. And since I want to make sure everyone understands my tone, when it comes to transparency and AILA I can virtually copyright the use of the word, so the idea that no one in the leadership bothered to announce this make-believe task force until now or contact me directly to let me know of it shows just how these people think.
A couple of people have already contacted me and asked me if I would volunteer for the task force. I said no, both because AILA is not serious about transparency and because William Stock, Treasurer/Future President of AILA, has already notified me in writing on February 6 and a follow-up telephone call I made to him that the ExCom and staff of AILA find my postings "disturbing" [phrase deleted - Editor 2/15/2013] and have made it clear that I am despised in the organization. I have no problem with that, as it is an open secret, but of course it also means I won't waste my time in an effort where people have made it clear they are not interested in serious cooperation. I would venture to say, however, that if it were any other member who (there's that word again!) has been so involved in an issue, the leadership would have asked them to serve and not wait for them to volunteer. So let the double standards abound, and to Eric who questioned my "true colors", all I can add is I have always been consistent.
Costs of Meeting: ponder the following. According to the 2011 tax return, AILA National had 60 employees. (I don't know what the current number is.) Of those sixty, ten attended the BOG vacation - comprising 16.66% of the total AILA workforce. Was it really necessary for AILA to send ten staffers to Panama, at a cost of what, $3,000 each? The ExCom had to be there, but ten employees? And here's the real kicker - if you don't count BOG members, only six "private citizens" attended the BOG meeting (Ben Johnson of the AIC also attended as an "other" but he's far from an other). So I don't know how many individual members attended the mid-year conference itself, but if this attendance at the BOG meeting is any indication, we are in sad shape. There's that tone again.
Related to that, we had both Robert Deasy (Senior Director of Liaison and Information) and Greg Chen (Director of Advocacy) in attendance. Were both really needed? If advocacy and liaison with government is so important, shouldn't those people have been walking the Halls of Congress during that critical time, rather than the beaches of Panama?
And Speaking of CR and Advocacy: I read Leslie Holman's posting today with great interest. Unfortunately, however, I can't say I agree with much of it. AILA has not been a player on the Hill, and all the talk about "macro vs. micro" doesn't change that fact. We are the only professional association of immigration attorneys, some 12,000 strong (who knows, AILA changes the number like the daily winning lottery ticket), and yet we are not at White House meetings, nor a witness at Congressional hearings. And as a Hill veteran myself while I understand the concept of confidential conversations, the meetings are certainly not private and it would be interesting to see a list of just who AILA has met with this year on the Hill, at the White House, or DHS. Even a list of some of the people they might have spoken with would boost the credibility of what we are constantly being told by the leadership, which in essence amounts to "trust me". It is true that the leadership does post the latest news on what's happening on CIR in the Just Posted section - I mean, c'mon, look at that latest self-congratulatory Valentine's Day piece, plus 13 more! - but never about AILA's role in same (unless you count that misleading post about AILA's statement being "testimony".)
So I shall continue my posts, and I shall continue my scorn and sarcasm because the leadership has left no other alternative, and maybe I even risk more censorship as they already do with their Facebook and Leadership Blog pages, but I think I can withstand the withering scorn of those who disagree with me. And as a history student, I certainly know that Teddy Roosevelt wasn't afraid of taking heat.