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Bloggings: August 2, 2007

by Greg Siskind, Esq.

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

July 31, 2007


I.M. Pei, was born in Canton, China in 1917, immigrated to the US at age 17 and became a naturalized US citizen since in 1954. He is, quite simply, one of the most highly regarded architects on the planet. His projects are considered works of art in and of themselves.

I've been an architecture buff for many years ever since I worked as an architectural surveyor for the Metropolitan Historical Commission in Nashville between my college and law school years. So I've been a long admirer of Mr. Pei. Some of my favorite works include the Bank of China Tower, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and, of course, the Louvre Pyramid.

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AILA is reporting passage of HR 3123 which extends Temporary Protected Status for Liberians until September 30, 2008, but I have not seen the vote posted yet. The bill will now move on to the Senate.

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Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the Chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee who has quickly gained a reputation for holding USCIS' feet to the fire to deliver good service to its customers, has taken on the USCIS over the fee increase that went in to effect yesterday by introducing legislation to force USCIS to reverse course. Lofgren issued the following press release in connection with the bill:

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today introduced a bill to void the recent increases in immigration fees by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The bill would void the new fee structure set to take effect today and reinstate the previous fee structure. The bill also states that USCIS has consistently failed to reduce application backlogs and has suffered from a lack of transparency and effective management.

“Our immigration services need to move into the 21st century,” stated Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “But, USCIS has consistently failed to explain or justify the amounts and distributions of this new fee increase. While I agree that USCIS needs to modernize its existing infrastructure and procedures, they must do so in a transparent and open manner. After repeated requests over several months, USCIS has yet to provide Congress with a detailed plan for its infrastructure modernization efforts. Our immigration system should be both effective and fair; sacrificing one to achieve the other should not be an option.”

Here's the text of the resolution. Download fees.pdf

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USCIS finally has updated their site to allow older versions of the I-765 to be accepted. But note that the I-129F and I-290B remain unchanged.

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Yesterday I advised you that AILA was reporting that USCIS was mistaken in saying that the only acceptable versions of the I-765, I-129F and I-290B were the July 30th versions now on the USCIS web site. But the forms on the site are still marked as the only acceptable versions and no correction statement has been issued by USCIS. Until we see that, I would advise folks to only use the new version.

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July 30, 2007


It's now online. I hope it brings the point home. Yes, we need to be focused on security. But foreign physicians in the US are vital to the American health care system and should be warmly welcomed.

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I had never heard of Ms. Bergmann until I recently saw a fascinating documentary on her on HBO. Ms. Bergmann, who is now in her 90s, was a leading athlete in Germany set to take a medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While the Germans were facing world criticism for their treatment of Jewish athletes, they chose Bergmann as the only Jewish member of the team (Helene Mayer, another team members whose deceased father was Jewish, was raised in her mother's Christian faith). And then she was kicked off the team at the last moment along with her fellow Jewish teammate.

The film interview Ms. Bergmann at length and one can tell those years of training have benefited her - she looked at 20 years younger than her years and her memory of that remarkable time in her life was impeccable.

Bergmann managed to emigrate to the US in 1937 and avoided the horrors that were to befall her people in the years to follow. Because the Olympics were canceled in 1940 and 1944 because of the war, Ms. Bergmann never had the opportunity to win her gold medal, though she has the satisfaction of at least knowing that the height of the high jump that was enough to win the gold medal in Berlin was the same as she achieved in competition just a month before the Games.

Bergmann did have a chance to compete in her adopted country. She was the 1937 American high jump and shot put champion and repeated the high jump championship in 1938. She became an American citizen in 1942.

In a nice epilogue to her story, she was honored by the the German people in 1999 with the naming of a stadium after her. The stadium was one that she was not allowed to keep in (or even enter) when she was living in Germany. She returned to the Germany for the first time since fleeing in the 30s to attend the dedication ceremony.

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Immigration Voice, the grassroots immigrants rights organization, plans on holding a major rally in Washington on September 13th. The rally will focus on the antiquated employment green card system in the US and the need for legislation to address the situation.

Immigration Voice wants to do something as consequential as the flower campaign and the San Jose rally but only this time, it will be much bigger and much more consequential aimed at congressional action on visa backlogs and broken system of high-skills immigration. We aim to resolve this issue but we cannot do it alone and therefore it is imperative for every one, and by that we mean EVERY ONE to show up. If you wanted to be a part of San Jose rally but couldn't, then now is your chance to protest peacefully and fight for a fair system and just process.

Always remember, we are in United States at the invitation of our employers and our employers have filed our green card petitions in order to retain us. It is only fair and only just to ask for a system that achieves that objective without delays and without putting the immigrants in probationary limbo for 6-12 years. And it is your obligation to yourself and your family to stand up for your rights and ask congress to legislate and fix the system so that it works the way it was originally intended to work. Just ask a participant of San Jose rally of how proud and how satisfied everyone was after the rally – not just due to impact – but just because they have stood up and spoken up for their issue.

Immigration Voice will shortly announce the route, times and other details. You can find out more at  :

The Flower Campaign and San Jose Rally were a great start. But IV has the ambitious goal of attracting 10,000 participants, a number that would make it probably the largest rally ever staged on behalf of employment-based immigration. Make it happen!

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In the last few months, the term "anchor baby" has taken on a certain cache with anti-immigrant folks like Ms. Michele Malkin and Mr. Lou Dobbs.  The term refers to the children of immigrants who are conferred citizenship by virtue of their birth in this country. Some would limit the use to the children of illegal aliens, while many extend it to children of those on work and tourist visas. Others argue that anyone born in the US to parents on work, student, tourist visas, etc. would be an "anchor baby".

I think it's fair to call it like it is - calling someone an "anchor baby" is a form of hate speech. The term is used in an effort to dehumanize a whole class of American citizens. By stigmatizing the American children of immigrants, these bigots seek to turn millions of Americans in to second class citizens. There have been many other societies in the past which tried to de-legitimized the children of immigrants. I know because I've filed asylum cases for people with horrific stories involving their membership in a persecuted group of this sort.

America has always had better instincts. Immigrants have succeeded in this country more than any other because we focus as a country on welcoming immigrants and making them in to new Americans, not just barely tolerated foreigners. Their children are not second class citizens and just as American as the children of those who trace their roots to Plymouth Rock.

Because I believe the term is offensive and demeaning, I intend to delete posts that use it in a derogatory way). If people want to discuss the term itself and how it is being used in hate speech, I'd consider that to be appropriate. Some of the anti-immigrant folks out there are no doubt going to accuse me of being a censor. And so be it. They can use the term on your own blogs (and don't seem to have any hesitancy to do so, of course).

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I've written an opinion piece on the contributions of foreign doctors to the US health care system that I'm told will be in tomorrow's USA Today. It's not easy to pare 1800 words down to 1000, but I think I still managed to get my point across. As soon as it's online, I'll link to it.

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I've read some news accounts of this happening, but I heard for myself a story from a new client that seems to confirm that CBP officers are indeed searching the web to see if they can find information to ensnare people seeking entry to the US. The person I spoke to today was denied entry because he had a web site for a small business set up. The client indicated that the business never actually got to the point of being operational and the web site was created a few years ago when the person was a student (he was just seeking entry as a tourist on this trip), but that was enough to convince the officer to put the client back on a plane home.

There was highly publicized case recently where a Canadian professor was held to be a habitual drug user based on an admission in an interview that he experimented with LSD in the 1960s.

So if you're thinking of putting anything on your MySpace or Facebook page or something on your web site that you don't want to have to explain to a border officer, you might want to exercise some restraint.

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The Senate has rejected an amendment to last week's DHS appropriations bill that would have provided funding for the implementation of the Real ID Act. This comes after the open revolt of a number of states who have said they will not implement the mandated changes. How will the government proceed with forcing REAL ID-compliant licenses to be used without any money on their end and with states that are thumbing their noses at the federal government?

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USCIS has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association that the three forms listed on the web site as requiring the new version as of today IS A MISTAKE and that the earlier version can still be used. Of course, they have not considered this important enough to correct the problem on their web site. Mistakes like this can create panic for those who have sent the old version of the form and when they are discovered, they need to be corrected immediately and a notice to be issued informing the public of the error.

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Does it seem like there is something like this coming out almost every day? My friend Dan Kowalski, the esteemed editor of the excellent Bender's Immigration Bulletin, just sent me a note from Robert Gard, a lawyer with the Azulay firm in Chicago (of Visa Bulletin litigation fame), noting that USCIS posted three new forms today on their web site and is mandating that only the new versions of those forms can be used. USCIS normally allows a previous version of a form to be used for a phase in period while immigration forms case management system can code for the new version and send their subscribers the necessary upgrades. And many people download a form, work on it for a bit and then send it in so at least a reasonable period of time is needed for an old version of a form to be used.

The new forms are the I-765 for employment authorization requests, the I-129F for fiance visas and the I-290B Notice of Appeal. The I-765 is the one of greatest concern right now. Hundreds of thousands of those forms are being filed in conjunction with adjustment applications being filed pursuant to the July Visa Bulletin.

The cynic in me says that USCIS made this little change for the sole purpose of punishing people taking advantage of the July Visa Bulletin. I hope I'm wrong, but USCIS owes an explanation and also needs to immediately instruct the service centers to continue accepting the form for a reasonable period of time as has been their long standing practice. In fact, they posted a number of other additional forms today and said that previous versions were acceptable.

For many of you who use case management systems, you should note that USCIS posts their forms in fillable acrobat format so you can type on the screen and print the form off without the need to scan or use a typewriter. Until USCIS reverses itself, you need to use the new version available at the USCIS site and wait on your forms management software company to send you an update.

[UPDATE: A reader made the good suggestion to put a link to the correct forms. They're all at USCIS, but the one most of you care about right now - the I-765 - is at]

[UPDATE 2: Someone in my office said that the barcode in the new form may not show up properly in versions of Acrobat Reader earlier than version 8, the latest version.  To be safe, I would recommend download Adobe's latest free version of the Acrobat reader software.]

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I'm a Tennessean and remember presidential candidate Fred Thompson's years as my US Senator. I remember him as being a relative moderate non-"crazy" on a variety of issue. This is really in the long tradition of the Tennessee Republican Party and have included moderates like Howard Baker (Thompson's mentor) and Lamar Alexander. 

I also remember Thompson being a realist on immigration matters as opposed to a zealot and willing to try and work for sensible solutions to both legal and illegal immigration problems.

When Thompson's name started getting tossed around as a Presidential candidate, he was immediately touted as the darling of the conservative wing of the GOP. And this really puzzled me because that's not how I remembered Thompson as well, particularly when it came to immigration issues.

Thompson seems to be more than happy to accept the label of right winger including being far to the edge on immigration issues. He's just weighed in on Hazleton and has taken a tough line on any sort of "amnesty".

But I remember a more reasonable, consensus-minded Fred Thompson. For those who have worked on immigration issues for many years, you may remember the "split the bill" campaign in 1996 that involved taking out the most onerous anti-immigration provisions from the 1996 immigration act and also removing the legal immigration provisions (including a moratorium on legal immigration) from the bill. Thompson was on the Judiciary Committee at the time and cast the critical pro-immigration vote in favor of splitting the bill. A lot of people in the pro-immigration community breathed a big sigh of relief thanks to Senator Thompson.

Apparently, others are worried about Thompson's anti-immigration street cred as well. Check out this posting today from FAIR's Dan Stein. Stein is railing against Thompson for choosing former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham, a Republican and Energy Secretary in George W. Bush's first term, to be a co-manager of his national campaign for President. It is true that Senator Abraham was pro-immigration and I don't think he would make any bones about that. And it is true that Thompson has a pro-immigration record. He voted pro-immigration on various bills like increasing H-1B numbers and visas available to farm workers.

Maybe Senator Thompson has undergone a transformation. Or maybe he is simply choosing to emphasize aspects of his immigration positions that seem the toughest. In any case, I think it's fair to say that Thompson is no Tom Tancredo. And if FAIR hates Thompson, then I think that probably is an indicator that he's not so extreme on the immigration issue after all. Which is what I believed before all of this presidential campaign business began.

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We're going to see more and more of this sort of thing unless Congress finally starts to address the issues.

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A few days back, I posted criticism of a USCIS policy announcement that it was ending accepting prepaid mailers. Applicants who wanted to get their receipts by overnight mail have for a long time been allowed to include an envelope with a prepaid mailing label. Then USCIS announced they were going to stop allowing this because they didn't want to be bothered anymore with the extra burden of having to accommodate these requests.

In response to public criticism, they've decided to back down. The text of the memo reads:


WASHINGTON USCIS is retracting its recent “USCIS Update” regarding the discontinuance of “prepaid mailers” for issuing notices and documents, dated July 23, 2007. Prior to the July 23rd announcement, USCIS allowed the public to enclose “prepaid mailers” in connection with applications or petitions filed with USCIS. A prepaid mailer is essentially a self-addressed envelope, where postage is paid by the addressee, that USCIS may use for mailing a document to the petitioner/applicant or their authorized representative. USCIS is aware that the July 23rd announcement caused anxiety for several of its customers and USCIS is committed to finding an alternative that will allow the public the continued convenience of using “prepaid mailers” while not unduly impacting its operations. Thus, USCIS is reinstating the practice of utilizing prepaid mailers as an alternate method of delivering notices and documents to the public.

USCIS reminds the public that prepaid mailers are not required. If an applicant/petitioner nonetheless wishes to submit one, it should meet the following criteria: Express and Priority mail (including Fed Ex, DHL, or UPS) with appropriate postage with prepaid shipping label on the package, already paid by person who sends it, e.g., Fed Ex “Expanded Billable Stamp”, or DHL “Easy Return Label”, among others.

Are you starting to see a pattern? When the public makes a lot of noise expressing outrage at unfair behavior at USCIS, the agency DOES respond. They've really never had to address this sort of thing before since grassroots complaining - backed up with the credible threat of litigation where appropriate - has not been a factor.

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July 29, 2007


Michael J. Fox, the Canadian actor famous for roles in films like Back to the Future and for television shows like Spin City and Family Ties, has become just as well known in recent years in the role of activist. Fox, who has Parkinson's Disease, has campaigned for research money for the disease and weighed in very public on the need for stem cell research. Fox's foundation has raised nearly $100,000,000 for research to treat and cure Parkinson's. When we read daily headlines about Hollywood actors' misbehaving, here's someone who has used his notoriety for the public good. Hopefully, we'll see a true cure for this terrible disease in the near future.

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I've been blogging of late about the backdoor efforts to get in to law Title III of the comprehensive immigration reform bill recently ditched by the Senate. Title III would have requiree all employers in the country to use the Basic Pilot program, an electronic employment verification system.

Recently, state laws  have started to pass requiring employers to use Basic Pilot and now provisions are being added to federal budget bills requiring federal contractors to use the system. I've stated my concerns about a lack of funding to properly handle the addition of all these new users. The concern is not whether the electronic system can handle the users, but how "false positives" are managed when human beings have to actually resolve problems.

I did get a look this weekend at the handwritten text of a provision added to the HHS funding bill by voice vote. It will provide $60,000,000 additional funding for Basic Pilot for this year. Whether that's enough to handle the additional demand remains to be seen.

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No surprise here, but there are few American government agencies that have the prestige of the NSF. The report does a nice job laying out the advantages and disadvantages to exporting and importing skilled professional workers. The report wisely concludes that there are always losers in a free trade environment, but that it is not a zero sum game. This is why it is so important to have immigration factor into global trade agreements. They've also included an interesting profile on foreign engineers and scientists in the US. Here is the section from the report on the impact on the global economy:

In addition to any benefits or costs that might be viewed as accruing to particular countries that send or receive highly skilled migrants, there are global effects that cannot be assigned to individual countries. These are essentially all the effects that could result in greater global efficiency in the production of knowledge and of goods and services. Even if one rejects the idea that one country benefits from wealth and knowledge creation in another, this greater efficiency would result in a larger global sum of gross domestic product, however distributed. A better international flow of knowledge may increase the efficiency of new knowledge production globally because it leads to better solutions to particular problems and reduces duplication in R&D.

An international job market has important implications for the quality of job matches for both workers and employers. In a world where increased specialization leads to increased employer dependence on scarce or unique skill sets, the reasons employers find it increasingly efficient to search across borders are clear. Not only might an individual with a particular combination of skill and experience be hard to find, but the difference between the best and the second best job match may be large. At the
same time, greater employment options resulting from a global labor market may allow workers to find the work most interesting to them.

There may also be a global benefit from the formation of international research and technology centers. Researchers studying innovation have long noted the apparent benefits of geographic clustering of particular research activities. To a great extent, this clustering of specialized research required international migration of highly skilled workers for staffing
For all of these reasons, international high-skill migration is likely to have a positive effect on global incentives for human capital investment. It increases the opportunities for highly skilled workers both by providing the option to search for a job across borders and by encouraging the growth of new knowledge.   

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Cuban-American Congressman Diaz-Balart, a Republican, has represented his Miami, Florida district since 1993. Diaz-Balart has become known as one of the most pro-immigration Republicans in Congress and has championed such issues as the DREAM Act and Temporary Protected Status eligibility for Haitians. The Havana native was also the primary sponsor of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 (NACARA), one of the more important immigration bills enacted in the 1990s.

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July 28, 2007


One of my first clients when I left a large law firm and became a solo immigration lawyer was Mike Cronin, a British national who had been sent to Nashville to work on a project to build one of the largest recording studios in the Music City. Years have passed and my firm has now grown to one of the largest in the country. And Mike remains a good friend.

Mike was originally sent to Nashville by his protégé, the legendary Tom Hidley. Mike ended up staying in Nashville and over the ensuing years has become one of the world's top recording studio designers working on projects in Africa, Europe, Asia and across America. There's a good chance the soundtrack for a movie you've seen has been recorded in a studio on which Mike worked and you very well may have heard music recorded in a Cronin-designed studio.

Google "Michael Cronin Acoustic Construction" and you'll see links to many of the projects Mike's handled.

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The National Journal's Jane Roh examines the question.

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July 27, 2007


Just posted. Here are the highlights:

Applicants who filed adjustments between July 2nd and July 17th do not need to have a receipt in order to file for advanced parole or employment authorization if they provide proof of delivery of the I-485 application.

Applications received between July 2nd and July 17th will receive receipt dates based on the day the applications were physically received.

Medical exams completed abroad by State Department-approved doctors may be submitted in lieu of medical exams conducted by USCIS-approved doctors.

E-Filed I-140s received on July 31st will receive a July 31st priority date even if the supporting documents arrive at a late date (there's a seven day limit).

A receipt notice from a courier service (like Fedex) will constitute a "post-mark" for fee determination purposes.

Individuals who fell out of valid nonimmigration status between July 2nd and July 16th as a direct result of the inability to file for employment-based adjustment during that time will likely be forgiven for the short gap in status based on USCIS' discretion to consider extraordinary circumstances beyond the alien's control.

Applications must be properly signed (i.e. representatives cannot file applications at the last minute without the client's signature)

Family members MUST file adjustment applications before the August 17th deadline or wait until visa numbers become available again (presumably many years later in certain categories).

There are some other items covered such as substitution cases that I'm not describing here, but are worth reviewing if you're in that category.

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July 26, 2007


Fareed Zakaria is an Indian-American who is now one of the most recognizable foreign policy analysts in the United States. He writes a very popular column in Newsweek (one I regularly read) and is a regular on ABC News' This Week with George Stefanopoulus. His mother was a famous journalist in her own right serving as the Sunday editor of the Times of India.

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I am getting reports from readers that Visa Bulletin adjustment cases are being rejected for a variety of reasons that sound like USCIS mail room  workers have been instructed to take an extremely restrictive view of what is a proper application. We had a case in our own office today where a case was returned stating that we failed to include an original labor certification approval notice. The problem was we did include the notice. While we have time to resubmit and politely request that the mail room clerk do his or her job properly, one gets the feeling that there will be lawsuits galore. Why doesn't USCIS get it? Getting sued for something that anyone with common sense knows will result in a loss for the agency does NOT serve the taxpayers' interests.

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Anti-immigrant groups received a major setback today as a US DIstrict Court judge in Pennsylvania ruled  in a 206 page decision that Hazleton, PA's anti-immigration ordinances unconstitutional. The case dealt with ordinances that bar landlords from renting apartments to illegal aliens and a provision that allow for the revocation of business licenses of companies employing illegal aliens. The latter issue is particularly important since numerous state and local laws have passed in recent months that do this very thing.

The City of Hazleton really got slammed on this one based on the tone of the decision and the case provides a blueprint for challenging ordinances all over the country. No doubt the case will be appealed and given the propagation of these statutes all over the country, the Supreme Court could very well take up the issue.

There were many grounds for overturning the decision, but the most telling one was the Constitutional bar on states preempting federal laws.

Here is the decision -

Download hazelton_case.pdf

I've pulled some of the more important passages in the decision.

United StatesThis argument appears to be a species of argument often heard in recent discussions of the national immigration issue: because illegal aliens broke the law to enter this country, they should not have any legal recourse when rights due them under the federal constitution or federal law are violated. We cannot say clearly enough that persons who enter this country without legal authorization are not stripped immediately of all their rights because of this single illegal act. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no State may “deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The United States Supreme Court has consistently interpreted this provision to apply to all people present in the United States whether they were born here, immigrated here through legal means, or violated federal law to enter the country. 


IRCA contains an express pre-emption clause that pre-empts State or local laws dealing with the employment of unauthorized aliens. The preemption clause provides: “The provisions of this section preempt any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens.” 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(h)(2). 


Under federal law there are two types of immigration enforcement: border enforcement, which is keeping unauthorized persons from entering the country; and interior enforcement, which is distinguishing between legal and undocumented immigrants already in the country and removing the latter. (N.T. 3/15/07 at 14). In interior enforcement, officials must strike a balance between finding and removing undocumented immigrants without accidently removing immigrants and legal citizens, all without imposing too much of a burden on employers and workers. Too stringent of an enforcement system will result in the wrongful removal of United States citizens and legal immigrants.United States foreign relations is affected by the manner in which the balance is struck. Excessive enforcement jeopardizes our alliances and cooperation with regard to matters such as immigration enforcement, drug interdiction and counter terrorism investigations.  Accordingly, the United States political system places the responsibility for striking this balance with the United States Congress and the executive branch. In discussing the ordinances in the instant case, city council and the mayor did not consider the implications of the ordinances on foreign policy. (N.T. 3/14/07 at 87-89). Their only concern, as might be expected, was for Hazleton.


The Ordinance, unlike its superior federal counterpart, contains no antidiscrimination provisions.


The employment provisions of IIRA differ from and conflict with IRCA. It is thus in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.


As Supreme Court Justice Blackmun noted: “[T]he structure of the immigration statuses makes it impossible for the State to determine which aliens are entitled to residence, and which eventually will be deported.” Plyler (Blackmun, J., concurring). Additionally, Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell stated: “Until an undocumented alien is ordered deported by the Federal Government, no State can be assured that the alien will not be found to have a federal permission to reside in the country.” Plyler, 457 at 241 n.6 (Powell, J., concurring).


IIRA attempts to provide procedural protection to those affected by it by resorting to courts that do not have jurisdiction over determinations of immigration status. To refer those affected by IIRA to a court that cannot hear their claim is a violation of due process. For the above reasons, we find that IIRA violates the due process rights of both the employers and employees and is thus unconstitutional.


Because the IIRA does not provide notice to challenged employees or tenants, does not inform the employers and owners/landlords of the types of identity information needed, and provides for judicial review in a court system that lacks jurisdiction, it violates the due process rights of employers, employees, tenants and owners/landlords. It is therefore unconstitutional.


We therefore find that Ordinance 2006-18, as amended, does not on its face violate the plaintiffs’ right to the equal protection of the laws.


We find that we lack adequate information to balance the plaintiffs’ privacy interest in the data requested with the City’s need for that information. Neither party has presented sufficient evidence of what type of information will be required from plaintiffs, and plaintiffs have not adduced case law that would allow us to conclude that immigration information is on its face private data. We will therefore dismiss the plaintiffs’ privacy rights complaint. 


Accordingly, section 1981 forbids the defendant from prohibiting undocumented aliens from entering into leases. Thus, the Tenant Registration Ordinance and the housing provisions of the IIRA, which forbid such contracts, are in violation of section 1981


Whatever frustrations officials of the City of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States, in its zeal to control the presence of a group deemed undesirable, violated the rights of such people, as well as others within the community. Since the United States Constitution protects even the disfavored, the ordinances cannot be enforced. prohibits the City from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme. Even if federal law did not conflict with Hazleton’s measures, the City could not enact an ordinance that violates rights the Constitution guarantees to every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not. The genius of our Constitution is that it provides rights even to those who evoke the least sympathy from the general public. In that way, all in this nation can be confident of equal justice under its laws.

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Thanks to an alert reader for sending this link. The bill seems likely to be a turnoff to Democrats who will not be happy about the treatment of illegal aliens. I have a feeling this one will be dead on arrival, but we'll have to see.

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Someone apparently got the message at USCIS that shutting down e-filing for routine maintenance tomorrow was an incredibly bad idea so they've pushed it back until Tuesday. However, our office has been having problems all day getting in to the e-filing system and it seems to be completely overwhelmed. We're hoping that the system gets better after business hours.

IN the mean time, USCIS made this disturbing announcement this evening:

Special Note:

On Monday, July 23, USCIS inadvertently posted on its website a version of Form I-485 that reflected the fee increase which does not take effect until July 30, 2007. USCIS has now posted the correct version of the Form I-485. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

But how exactly will USCIS treat cases filed by people who followed the instructions and sent in the wrong fee. Are they going to reject the cases (as they normally do since in 2007 they are still unable to make change when one overpays accidentally). Given that the mistake is the USCIS' you would expect the agency to accept responsibility and ensure cases are properly adjudicated. But I wouldn't bet the farm.

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Trying to learn why now...

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This is one of the most outrageous examples of bad customer service - and a complete breach of good faith - that I've seen in quite some time at USCIS. Here is an announcement just posted at the USCIS web site:

Scheduled E-Filing System Outage

The e-Filing System will be temporarily unavailable on Friday, July 27, 2007 from 3:00 PM EDT until 11:00 PM EDT for necessary maintenance.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

People are scrambling to file e-file I-140 cases before the end of the month in order to get July priority dates, something necessary to be able to file an adjustment case in August. Also, the I-140 fees increase substantially.

Funny, when USCIS announced which fees would be going up, the I-485, I-765, and I-131 were to stay the same until August 17th, BUT NOT THE I-140. I thought that was odd, but now it's starting to make sense. Is USCIS forcing people to file after the fees go up (and in the process harming people who are needing to e-file tomorrow? It certainly looks that way.

Scheduled maintenance? How hard is it to tell the IT guys to hold of a few days?

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I haven't seen the language, but apparently the bill is enforcement-only though some of the most onerous provisions (such as mandatory detention of overstays and police questioning of immigrants) seem to have been modified to satisfy worried Democrats. The Associated Press reports here.

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Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has offered an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that would allocate 61,000 green cards unused in prior years to Schedule A nurses and physical therapists. The vast majority of these green cards are likely to go to nurses who will face new hurdles because they lack a non-immigrant visa category and have not been able to take advantage of adjusting status via the July Visa Bulletin. The flood of applications filed pursuant to that bulletin will likely send the EB-3 category back several additional years. Schumer's amendment (S.AMDT.2448) will likely be voted on today.

I am urging readers to support this provision. Without it, nurses face several extra years of waiting. The Visa Bulletin fiasco was great news for many, but it is terrible news for many nurses. Even those in the US interested in applying to adjust status found that they were locked out because of the built in hold time in the posting process which meant that it is impossible to obtain a July priority date. A long term solution will be to exempt nurses from the green card cap since the nurse shortage in the US is expected to last for several decades, but this will help until we get that legislative relief.

Please call, fax and email your Senators and urge them to support 2448, the Schumer nursing amendment to the DHS appropriations bill. You can find your Senator's contact details at

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July 25, 2007


Pierre Omidyar was born a week before me in Paris to Iranian parents and immigrated to the United States at age 6. He founded eBay in 1995 and if you don't know all about eBay, then chances are someone had to print out this blog post for you because you're the last person in America who hasn't started using that new-fangled thing called the Internet.

Omidyar has become one of the richest people on the planet and is also a major philanthropist. Omidyar was lucky enough to have had parents who legally immigrated. Would he have had the same good fortune if his parents were no legal? How many future Pierre Omidyars are we losing by not passing the DREAM Act?

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This is one of the most common arguments expressed by the anti-immigration. But the Newark Star-Ledger's Brian Donohue calls this "utter hogwash" and reminds readers that for hundreds of years in the US there were NO immigration laws to break unless you were a criminal, insane or, after 1882, Chinese.

Only 1% of people were turned away at Ellis Island (the place at which one in two Americans claims ancestry) and immigrants could come without jobs or family in the US. There were no restrictions on the number of immigrants permitted per year.

My favorite quote from the article:

Crediting yesteryear's immigrants with following the laws is like calling someone a good driver because they never got caught speeding on the Autobahn.

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The Senate voted 52-44 not to consider the Graham Amendment on grounds that it was not germane. Because of that vote, the Reid side-by-side amendment also went down. The Democrats held firm with all voting against Graham. They were joined by two Republicans - Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ted Stevens (R-AK).

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You can find your Senator's phone, fax and email information at

The message is simple and here's some quick text:

"Dear ___________:

Please SUPPORT the Reid side-by-side amendment on AgJobs and Dream Act and OPPOSE the Graham amendment."

It only takes a moment and according to Hill Staffers, it counts.

Thanks for your time."
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I work with a lot of immigrant soldiers as well as American soldiers with immigrant relatives and I like to highlight contributions immigrants are making to the defense of the country.

Immigrants are now a critical part of the American military and our country now depends on immigrants not just to ensure a healthy economy, but for the safety of the country as well.

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Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), one of the Republican's chief architects of this summer's comprehensive immigration reform bill, will introduce an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill much of Title I and II of the CIR bill. Those sections cover border and interior enforcement. The measure is being opposed by immigration advocacy organizations like AILA.

According to a press release from Graham's office, the measure would do the following:

·        Operational control over 100% of the U.S.-Mexico land border

·        23,000 Border Patrol agents hired, trained, and reporting for duty

·        4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles & 105 ground-based radar and camera towers

·        300 miles of vehicle barriers & 700 miles of border fencing

·        A permanent end to the “catch-and-release” policy with 45,000 detention beds.

In addition, the Act contains additional border and interior enforcement provisions necessary for stemming the tide of illegal immigration, restricting immigration benefits to lawbreakers, and further protecting the homeland from terrorists and criminals.  Among other things, the Act does the following:

·        Increased Personnel: Requires a total of 14,500 new Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) agents through Fiscal Year 2012 – to approximately 30,000 CBP agents overall – as well as increased hires of new Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

·        Sanctuary Cities: Prohibits cities from banning the obtaining of information on immigration status by their own law enforcement agencies.

·        Operation Jump Start/National Guard: Provides additional funding for Operation Jump Start to maintain a National Guard presence along the Southern border.

·        Criminal Aliens: Strengthens laws to deny immigration benefits to aggravated felons, gang members, terrorists, sex offenders, and child abusers.  The bill also expands the Institutional Removal Program and gives DHS the ability to detain criminal aliens for an extended period of time before they can be removed.   

·        State and Local Law Enforcement:  Gives state and local law enforcement new authorities to detain illegal aliens and transfer them into DHS custody.  Moreover, it allows state and local law enforcement authorities to use homeland security grants for 287(g) training and provides funding to cover the costs of detaining and transporting criminal aliens.

·        Visa Overstayers: Requires DHS to detain aliens who willfully overstay their period of authorized admission for more than 60 days.

·        Illegal Reentry: Increases criminal penalties and sets mandatory minimum prison sentences for aliens who have been removed and illegally re-enter our country.

·        Expedited Removal:  Restricts the impact of outdated court injunctions that currently prevent DHS from certain illegal immigrants into expedited removal and returning them to their country of origin as soon as circumstances allow.

·        US-VISIT and Entry Inspection: Clarifies DHS’s authority to collect biometric entry and exit data at U.S. ports of entry, as well as requires the Department to provide Congress a timeline for implementing US-VISIT at all land border points of entry.

·        Employment Eligibility Verification: Requires DHS to enhance the Basic Pilot Program to help facilitate broader use by employers as well as improved accuracy and efficiency.

·        Liability Protection for Reporting Suspicious Threats: Grants civil liability protection to those who report possible threats to our nation’s transportation system.

AILA is opposing the measure for a variety of reasons including the expansion of state and local enforcement of immigration laws, the subjecting visa overstayers to mandatory jailing and the penalization of cities that doe not choose to turn their police officers in to immigration agents.   

According to AILA, Senator Reid will offer a side-by-side amendment that would pair the Graham bill up with the AgJobs and DREAM Act bills that would help those who entered illegally as children as well as certain agricultural workers who are out of status.

I am urging readers to support the side-by-side amendment and encourage you to call your Senators to offer support. While the enforcement bill has problems, the odds of an enforcement bill passing are good and we can work to make positive changes before it gets to the President's desk. And AgJobs and the Dream Act would help an enormous number of people.

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The Washington Post reports that a law that went in to effect a year ago to make it impossible for illegal aliens to qualify for Medicaid has had virtually no impact on Medicaid enrollment. Why? Because illegal immigrants do NOT come here for the public benefits. They come to work. Contrary to what groups like FAIR or NumbersUSA say, people don't risk their lives crossing deserts or being smuggled in container holds on 18-wheeler trucks just so they can get public benefits in the US.

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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.