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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Debate Continues over Legalization Proposals
by Greg Siskind and Amy Ballentine

Recently Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft met with their Mexican counterparts to continue discussions on migration. Following the two-hour meeting, Powell said that in formulating a coherent policy it is important for the US to heed “the enormously valuable role that Mexican immigrants continue to play in helping us build our nation.” Other participants spoke favorably about the talks, but declined to provide any specific details about the discussions.

Earlier in the week, aides in the Bush administration, during a meeting with immigration advocacy organizations, said that any moves would come only after consultation within the Republican Party. This almost certainly means that when Mexican President Vicente Fox visits Washington, D.C. next month, no firm plan will be announced. Instead, a statement of general principles is expected.

Indeed, unless President Bush is willing to make a break with many important members of his party, allowing some of them a voice on the issue could end any possibility of a legalization program. A number of key Republican legislators have made clear their opposition to any such program, preferring instead to focus on expanding temporary guest worker programs. Just this week Reps. James Sensenbrenner and George Gekas, the Chairs of the House Judiciary Committee and Immigration Subcommittee respectively, released a statement on immigration policy.

In the statement they said that no amnesty or guestworker program could be enacted until INS reform occurs. Noting that the 4.5 million applications currently pending with the INS are nine times the number pending when the 1986 amnesty went into effect, they say that it would be “foolish and unproductive” to make significant changes to immigration law at this point. According to the statement, comprehensive INS reform legislation is being drafted, and next fall hearings on the subject will begin.

One of the primary motivations behind the legalization talk is the strength of the US economy and its increasing dependence on immigrant workers, both legal and undocumented. Indeed, one of the biggest supporters of immigration reform is business, particularly those in industries where immigrant workers are essential. While business supports reform, another key Republican constituency, social conservatives, are adamantly opposed to reform.

Some opposed to an amnesty point to the aftermath of the 1986 amnesty as evidence no amnesty should be considered now. After that program, undocumented immigration from Mexico actually increased, from less than 600,000 a year to more than 800,000. However, demographers say that changes in the Mexican population could lead to a drastic reduction in migration to the US. In 1965 the average Mexican woman had seven children, today the average is 2.4. At the height of the population boom, Mexico would have needed to create one million new jobs a year to provide employment for everyone. It was not able to create more than 500,000, and many people went to the US looking for work. With a lower birth rate, the Mexican economy will likely be more able to provide jobs for everyone, decreasing migratory pressure.


About The Author

Gregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, Gregory Siskind went on to receive his law degree from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and he currently serves as a member of the organization's Technology Committee. He is the current committee chair for the Nashville Bar Association's International Section. Greg is a member of the American Bar Association where he serves on the LPM PublishGregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

Greg regularly writes on the subject of immigration law. He has written several hundred articles on the subject and is also the author of the new book The J Visa Guidebook, published by Matthew Bender and Company, one of the nation's leading legal publishers. He is working on another book for Matthew Bender on entertainment and sports immigration.

Greg is also, in many ways, a pioneer in the use of the Internet in the legal profession. He was one of the first lawyers in the country (and the very first immigration lawyer) to set up a web site for his practice. And he was the first attorney in the world to distribute a firm newsletter via e-mail listserv. Mr. Siskind is the author of the American Bar Association's best selling book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. He has been interviewed and profiled in a number of leading publications and media including USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lawyers Weekly, the ABA Journal, the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Law Practice Management Magazine, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the Washington Post. As one of the leading experts in the country on the use of the Internet in a legal practice, Greg speaks regularly at forums across the United States, Canada and Europe.

In his personal life, Greg is the husband of Audrey Siskind and the proud father of Eden Shoshana and Lily Jordana. He also enjoys collecting rare newspapers and running in marathons and triathlons. He can be reached by email at GSiskind@visalaw.com

Amy Ballentine is an associate in Siskind, Susser & Haas's Memphis, Tennessee office. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rhodes College in 1994. While in law school at the University of Memphis she was a member of the law review staff as well as a published author. She also worked with the local public defender’s office in death penalty cases. In May 1999, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis Law School. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached by email at aballentine@visalaw.com



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