Let’s Talk Immigration Reform

Just read this article on http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/technology/tech-firms-push-to-hire-more-workers-from-abroad.html?_r=0 and this is what I have to say: We need to overhaul our temporary work visas and come up with a new system altogether. Why can’t we adopt what Canada and Australia have done.  Have a point system for professional applicants, the work authorization obtained via this system should not be tied to a particular employer. The immigrant worker should be allowed to freely work for anyone within his professional field and compete with qualified American workers.  I believe a lot of abuse by employers of H1B employees will disappear once we eliminate this system where the employee is tied to an employer for a visa. Yes, it does lead to abusive practices by employers.  I have come across many clients who suffer through their H1B employment by accepting lower wages, long work hours, continuous threats of losing their jobs and visas.

The other problem with H1B is the notion of specialty occupation.   Unfortunately, USCIS and Department of Labor’s definition of what a “specialty occupation is quite antiquated. The reform should really eliminate this specialty occupation notion.


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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals comes into effect on August 15, 2012

Individuals who demonstrate that they meet the guidelines below may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and may be eligible for employment authorization.

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Individuals may begin to request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals on August 15, 2012.

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The Huffington Post: The Start Up Act 2.0 for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

In a bipartisan effort the Congress has finally recognized the importance of Immigrant Entrepreneurs, The Start Up Act 2.0!  Read full story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-leopold/startup-act-2_b_1537109.html

This is a great effort and hopefully it will pass the legislative process , however, the federal government can improve entrepreneurship opportunities for immigrants within the existing visas simply by training USCIS officers to enhance their knowledge about newer sometimes “out of the box” business models and business ventures as a result of advancement of social media and information technology. Unfortunately, USCIS is operating with arcane concepts, for instance employment is all about a master servant relationship, a virtual office or home office is not entrepreneurial, an online business is not a real business unless you own a factory or a store.

PBS “Need to Know” highlighted problems with legal immigration.  In its obsession to deport people Congress is overlooking the importance of maintaining a steady flow of legal immigrants.













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Two Teenage Students ordered deported to Colombia by an Immigration Judge in Miami

What happened to the government’s effort to close cases such as this under prosecutorial discretion? The Congress failed to pass the Dream Act for illegal students and minor who are attending schools and colleges, and the Obama’s administration’s compromise was prosecutorial discretion. Why isn’t prosecutorial discretion exercised in this case? Perhaps the teenagers can push for prosecutorial discretion while their appeal is pending with the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Read the News on CNN!


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NYT Reports: Easier Route to Green Card to Be Proposed for Some

Today’s NY Times reported on Obama’s administration’s proposal to allow illegal immigrants who are married to US Citizens to apply for green card and hardship waiver in the United States, and then travel to their home countries to obtain visa to reenter the US once the waiver is approved.  Under the current system individuals who enter illegally cannot apply for green card even if they are married to US Citizens.  These have only two two options: to leave the US and endure the hardship and separation of having the waiver processed at the US consulate in their home countries or remain in hiding and in constant fear in the US.    Now one has to see what will be the standard for  hardship, and what happens if the hardship waiver is denied.  Current standard for hardship is quite burdensome. Simple separation is really not considered hardship in most cases. One has to show more compelling reasons for hardship such as medical, economic, and mental or emotional that is more than resulting out of mere separation.   Nonetheless, if in fact implemented this proposal will  provide  some relief and Obama administration is trying to work within the current law and regulations and within their executive authority.



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US Immigration & Customs Enforcement deported a record number of individuals (396,906) in Fiscal Year 2011

PBS Frontline: Lost in Detention examine the Obama administration’s controversial get-tough immigration policy.


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Federal Court Recognizes Threat of “Honor Killing” as Social Group for Asylum & Refugee Applications

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recognized “that the practice of honor killing is still widespread in certain parts of the world” and “that along with female genital mutilation, human trafficking and slavery, spousal rape and domestic battery, it is among the most severe abuses that women face around the globe.  The Court further stated that “vital though the enforcement of our immigration laws may be, it is equally important to give full force to the features of those laws that are designed to give shelter in theUnited States to people who would experience extraordinary abuse if they were sent back to their homecountry. The laws regarding asylum, withholding ofremoval, and the United States’s international obligations under the CAT are no less important than the laws establishing the general rules for immigration.”

The Court determined that ”women whose behavior violates that society’s moral norms (and who thus may suffer this consequence) form a coherent social group, that the ensuing death normally at the hand of a family member amounts to persecution on account of their membership in that group, and that the government continues to be unwilling or unable to stop this brutality.  (Sarhan v. Holder, 9/2/11) USCA 7th Circuit.

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DHS recent announcement to review immigration court cases is not an amnesty or path to lawful permanent residence.

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the Obama Administration’s recent announcement. The best course of action is to consult an immigration attorney; do not rely on what you are told by your friends, neighbors or coworkers.

Essentially DHS and DOJ will undertake a case-by-case review of all people currently in removal proceedings to ensure that those people fall within the government’s highest priorities for removal.  DHS Enforcement Priorities are as follows:  Priority #1 (e.g., foreign nationals who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety) being the highest priority and Priority #2 (e.g., recent illegal entrants) and Priority #3 (e.g., foreign nationals who are fugitives or otherwise obstruct immigration controls) being lower enforcement priorities.

Please note that the review process should not be construed as prohibiting DHS officers from apprehending, detaining, or removing foreign nationals who are unlawfully in the United States.

Moreover, the announcement on prosecutorial discretion DOES NOT mean that all people in removal proceedings will have their removal cases terminated or that all people in removal will be granted relief from removal (or a work permit).  Also, this is definitely NOT an amnesty. DHS will review removal cases to ensure that the government is focusing on high priority cases to better use its limited enforcement resources.   Removals will continue while the review process proceeds.

DHS directs that foreign nationals should not surrender themselves up to ICE in the belief that they will be granted prosecutorial discretion. Foreign nationals who surrender themselves to ICE in the mistaken belief that they will be granted prosecutorial discretion run a strong risk of being placed in removal proceedings and deported from the United States.

ICE has also published its FAQ on this topic. Click here <http://www.ice.gov/doclib/about/offices/ero/pdf/immigration-enforcement-facts.pdf> to see the FAQ on the ICE website.



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US Immigration Court Terminates Deportation Proceedings against an Immigrant in Same Sex Marriage

June 29, 2001 the New York Times reports that US Immigration Judge in New Jersey terminated deportation proceedings against a Venezuelan immigrant in a same sex marriage.

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