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Bloggings: May 18, 2007

by Greg Siskind, Esq.

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Greg Siskind's blog.

May 17, 2007

May 17, 2007


Senate negotiators have apparently reached agreement on the terms of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Though a bill has many hurdles to pass, this agreement represents perhaps the most important benchmark. While Democrats and the President have largely been on the same side and the Democratsí gaining control of the Senate and the House of Representatives is seen as crucial, the minority party in the Senate still has the power of the filibuster and can stop legislation from moving forward if the majority has fewer than 60% support. There is no such legislative tool in the House of Representatives and passage of an immigration bill is seen as more likely in that body. 

The compromise measure will likely make many stakeholders in the pro-immigration and anti-immigration communities uncomfortable. While most of the bill will likely resemble last yearís Senate Bill 2611, there are a number of significant changes, including a massive change in the way family immigration cases are handled.

According to todayís Washington Post, among the items agreed to by the Democratic and Republican Senate negotiators are the following (though we have not independently confirmed what the



  • a legalization program for those illegal aliens who arrived before January 1, 2007. Such individuals will immediately be eligible for a Z visa and the Z visa will be renewable indefinitely. Within 8 years, the alien must pay a $5000 fine. The visa can be converted to permanent residency if the head of household applies within 8 years and departs the


to collect the visa at a consulate. There will also be a filing fee for a Z visa, but itís not clear what it will be yet.

  • There will be a guest worker program with a number set at 400,000. The visa will be valid for two years at a time and renewable up to three times but only via application at a consulate. The guest worker program will not be implemented until various triggers are met including implementation of various border and worksite enforcement measures (such as hiring 18,000 new Border Patrol agents and implementing a new electronic employment verification system). To get a green card, applicants will need to go through the existing employment-based, family-based or the new points-based immigration system.
  •  The family immigration system will be modified and supplemented by a new point system. Immediate relative cases and the Family 2-A green card categories would remain untouched, but adult children and sibling categories will be rolled in to a new point system where family relationships will garner applicantsí points and points will be available for other factors such as English language proficiency, job skills and educational credentials. It is not clear yet what happens to people currently in line.


May 16, 2007


Harry Reid has postponed debate on the immigration bill until next week which means that a deal has largely been reached and the next few days will be spent getting the draft together of the mega-deal on immigration. The media is outlining some of the terms of the deal.

If you hear wailing from both the pro-immigration and anti-immigration communities, that probably means that some serious compromises were made. Each side is likely to have folks calling for their groups to reject the deal and wait it out for some unknown date in the future where presumably their side will have more power.

But I would remind pro-immigration folks that millions of undocumented immigrants are depending on this deal and a reasonable path to citizenship has been created - a major concession from the restrictionist side. For the restrictionist folks, a HUGE concession has been secured - an end to so-called "chain migration" where non-immediate relatives can enter strictly based on their family relationship. A point system weighting cases based on education, skills, English language proficiency as well as family relationships looks like it will replace certain family immigration categories.

This "grand compromise" will likely shift further especially as a House bill emerges, but the most difficult part of the immigration debate may almost be over.



May 15, 2007


A number of news organizations are reporting that a deal on immigration is now likely to be announced in the coming hours. The most significant development appears to be a major revamping of the family-based immigration system that will convert the system to one that is based on points with family ties now being a factor - albeit a very important factor - in qualifying for a green card. Education, skills, age, English proficiency and other criteria may now also determine who will qualify. The pro-immigration community will likely have to swallow hard before accepting or at least work on the House bill and try and soften the Senate some during the conference. Stay tuned...

May 14, 2007


Senator Harry Reid has introduced S. 1348, "the" comprehensive immigration reform bill, but it's really just a placeholder and will either be something very much like last year's S.2611, the CIR bill that passed the Senate, or a bipartisan new bill based on negotiations taking place between Senate Dems, Republicans and the White House. Reid's strategy will largely be shaped by whether a deal with the Republicans has been reached or is very close. Expect an early cloture vote to be taken to see whether the support is there to pass a bill.

The House may also begin marking up its own CIR bill in the next few days, though they'll be closely watching the Senate. I would doubt the House will take up floor debate on a CIR bill if the Senate is not moving its own bill.

May 10, 2007


This case doesn't exactly look like it's going to break any ground in immigration law, but it's certainly entertaining.  And if I can bring a smile to just one depressed lawyer out there who has to advise a client again today that there is no realistic legal option to solve their problem, I'll have done my job.

May 09, 2007


Is Senator Harry Reid trying to kill immigration reform by forcing a vote on a bill he knows Republicans will feel they have no choice but to filibuster? Or is he trying to call the bluff of members of the GOP who claim to be interested in immigration reform but continue to impose one new demand after another?

Republican Senators are now basically begging for more time. Whether you like Reid or not, there is a point to his gambit. Republicans don't get more pro-immigration as an election nears. How much time is left before presidential politics will block any hopes for a deal?

May 07, 2007


That's one of my favorite George Constanza quips from Seinfeld and I was reminded of it when Leslie Stahl interviewed "journalist" Lou Dobbs on last night's Sixty Minutes:

One of the issues he tackles relentlessly is illegal immigration. And on that, his critics say, his advocacy can get in the way of the facts.

Following a report on illegal immigrants carrying diseases into the U.S., one of the correspondents on his show, Christine Romans, told Dobbs that there have been 7,000 cases of leprosy in the U.S. in the past three years.

60 Minutes checked that and found a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, saying that 7,000 is the number of leprosy cases over the last 30 years, not the past three. The report also says that nobody knows how many of those cases involve illegal immigrants.

"We went to try and check that number, 7,000.  We canítÖ," Stahl says.

"Well, I can tell you this.  If we reported it, itís a fact," Dobbs replies.

"You canít tell me that. You did report it," Stahl says.

"I just did," Dobbs says.

"How can you guarantee that to me?" Stahl asks.


Says Dobbs, "Because I'm the managing editor. And thatís the way we do business. We donít make up numbers, Lesley."

Lovely. CNN - You're the most "trusted" name in news. Isn't it time to fire Mr. Dobbs and reclaim your reputation for journalistic integrity?

May 04, 2007


This morning's Washington Post editorial page urges Congress to move quickly to deal with the talent worker visa crisis. 2007's graduating foreign students will shortly be forced to leave the country so the time to act is now:

The immigration reform debate has largely revolved around immigrants who do jobs Americans are not willing to do. But what about immigrants who do the jobs Americans are not able to do?


The tens of thousands of H-1B rejects will constitute some of the world's best and brightest, and America is foolish to block them from the U.S. economy. After all, according to the National Science Foundation, a third of all science and engineering doctorates awarded in the United States go to foreign students (whose numbers are not limited). And according to the National Venture Capital Association, over the past 15 years one out of every four public companies backed by venture capital was started by an immigrant (including Google and eBay).


Congress is considering several bills that address the need to reform the H-1B program, including two that would raise the cap to 115,000. If they want America's high-tech industries to stay innovative, members of Congress should address the labor problem vis-?-vis visas -- and preferably before the class of 2007 heads home.


About The Author

Greg Siskind, Esq. is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.