Bloggings: August 16, 2007
Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Greg Siskind's blog.August 15, 2007 300 DETAINEES COME DOWN WITH FOOD POISONING
IMPORTANT CORRECTION OF NO MATCH FAQ
Just a little correction on my FAQ from last week on the new no match rule. I indicated it takes effect on August 10th, 30 days from the date the rule was released to the media. It is actually 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. That just happened so the actual effective date is September 14th.
WAR OF WORDS ON UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IMMIGRANTS IN MILITARY
Two people I highly respect - San Diego Tribune columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr., and my friend Margaret Stock, are having a debate in Commentary Magazine over the role of unlawfully present immigrants in the military. Margaret also happens to be the foremost expert in the country on issues related to immigrants and the military.
WASHINGTON POST COVERS DETAINEE DEATHS
I've been covering the story of the deaths of five detained immigrants in the last few days and why no one in the national media is picking up on this disturbing trend. This morning the Washington Post is the first newspaper to report the story, though they only report on three of the five. I'm not sure if this is due to a lack of investigation on the part of the reporter or if there is another reason.
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER - POLITICIAN
The Governator is probably the most famous immigrant in America and frequently talks up his immigrant roots. Do I really need to tell about Arnold's bio - California governor, movie star, famous body builder?
Oh yeah, did I mention that Arnold is probably the most successful person with an illegal immigrant past? The link is to an article I wrote about four years ago. While it is not 100% certain Arnold was an illegal immigrant, it certainly looks that way. To his credit, Arnold has come out in favor of legalizing unlawfully present immigrants.
GUILIANI LAYS OUT MORE SPECIFICS ON HIS IMMIGRATION POSITION
Rudy wants to get tough on the border. Way to really take a risky position!
The more interesting items involve Guiliani's plans to inplant chips in the necks of immigrants to track their movements. Gotcha on that one, didn't I? :-)
But his ideas for tracking people are a little disconcerting. Are we headed toward this?
To his credit, Guiliani hasn't totally shed his pro-immigration past. But trying to court the rightwing has certainly meant he has to emphasize the red meat items.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: ADVANCE PAROLE DOCUMENTS
If you have an adjustment of status application pending, in order to travel outside the US you need an advance parole document in hand prior to leaving. Otherwise, you will be considered to have abandoned your green card application. It takes a good three months for USCIS to get around to issuing this document and expediting is only possible in extreme circumstances.
I can think of no good policy reason why we need this antiquated extra process in the immigrant visa processing scheme. Why not allow a person to travel on the basis of an adjustment receipt? The only argument I can think of is the usefulness of conducting biometrics (fingerprinting and digital photos) before issuing the document. But if that is the concern, why not simply require the completion of biometrics before a person can return to the US? Just create an online system where people can check for the completion of their biometrics so that they know they can return to the US. Short of that, how about at least allowing someone to leave the US after filing the I-131 advance parole application rather than making them wait to receive it before leaving?
In any case, the advance parole system has been around and relatively unchanged for so long, people don't even know why we have it anymore other than that is reportedly extremely profitable for USCIS to adjudicate these cases. Oh wait....
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: I-824 PROCESSING TIMES
The I-824 is the form you send USCIS when you need a duplicate approval notice generated and sent to a consulate abroad or you just need a new copy because you've lost your original. It's not exactly rocket science in terms of what has to happen. Someone just needs to print out a new form and pop it in the mail. Check out these processing times:
California Service Center - 6 months
Talk about bad service. People often are in desperate need to get a duplicate form. How many private companies would survive if they took this long to help a customer? And this problem has been bad for many years so it's not like I'm picking on USCIS while they're experiencing a temporary setback.
USCIS TAKES A FIRST STEP TO HELP SOLDIERS
USCIS announced today that they are establishing a help line (1-877-CIS-4MIL) to assist soldiers with immigration problems as well as a web page devoted to military issues.
Those of you who follow this blog and my writing over the years know about how poorly soldiers have been treated by USCIS whether it has been in respect to their own status of members of their immediate family. So if this announcement signals a change in attitude, that is welcome news. The help line will assist soldiers with the following:
• Tracking their application for naturalization (Form N-400);
Here is the announcement - Download military.pdf
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: LENNY KRAYZELBURG
Missed a day yesterday as I've been traveling.
One of the most successful athletes in modern US Olympic history is Lenny Krayzelburg, the four-time gold medal winning swimmer. Krayzelburg is certainly one of the best backstrokers in the history of the sport having simultaneously held the world record in all six backstroke events.
I had the opportunity to meet Lenny Krayzelburg shortly after he won several medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sidney. That's because he is one of the most successful refugees to have been resettled by HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. HIAS, incidentally, helped my own family resettle 100 years ago and my wife's family when they came to the US as refugees after World War II. I've been serving on HIAS' national board for the last ten years. HIAS, incidentally, settles refugees of all religious faiths from regions around the world. They're also the country's oldest refugee resettlement organization having operated continuously since 1881.
GET READY FOR THE FUN
The media is just starting to report on what our drunken anti-immigrant binge is reaping. The AP reports that fewer Mexicans are coming north and there is a steady flow going south as the "the United States purges itself of its illegal population."
Some of the consequences we can expect:
The end of the American family farm and Americans having to rely on food being imported just as we rely on foreign oil. Get ready for the $10 head of lettuce.
And you can expect to pay exorbitant hotel prices, watch the country's landscaping go to pot, see road construction projects canceled, have to live with asbestos in all our buildings - and these are just examples of employers I've spoken to in the last week or so. People have no idea just how many areas of our daily lives are affected by the work of unlawfully present workers and that's to say nothing of the social chaos that will follow.
The 2004 comedy movie A Day Without A Mexican parodied the scenario of how the country would fall apart if all of a sudden immigrants disappeared. Some how I don't think we'll be laughing while this really happens.
EVERYBODY BETTER TO LEARN TO RUN YOUR LAWNMOWER
Georgia is home to some of the most vocal anti-immigrants so there should be some interesting dynamics in that state as their immigrant population starts to leave. A report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled "Georgia Firms Bracing For Big Headaches". As much as 12% of the state's population could be affected:
My favorite quote from the story:
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: TWO MORE ICE DETAINEES DIE
Five deaths in week. Different facilities. All under the age of 40? Is anyone paying attention?
Today it's two young men in Texas. And two others are hospitalized. Apparently, a mystery illness has taken hold. None of the men knew each other before they arrived and all were healthy at that point.
While unlike the other deaths I've reported on where ICE and law enforcement authorities appeared to be guilty of serious malfeasance, we can't point the finger at ICE yet on this one. But the fact that this is happening obviously shows we need to be doing some serious fact finding to determine why.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY #2: THE NO-MATCH RULE
Congress has failed to deal with immigration once again and as American employers have grown totally dependent on the labor of those unlawfully present. There are millions more jobs than American citizens and permanent residents, yet Congress has failed to provide legal options for employers to be able to bring in foreign workers properly. Instead, in a struggle to survive, employers have become lawbreakers. And rather than confronting the fact that the laws need to be changed, the government announced today that they're only going to enforce the existing rules with more vigor.
So we hear announcements today of more border security and more worksite raids as well as the already infamous new no-match rule described in detail by me earlier in the day.
We already have an economy teetering on the edge and our Congress and President have today announced a policy that could very well push us over that cliff. Ironically, the most anti-immigration members of Congress are often the ones who claim to be the most pro-business. And it's unions like SEIU that are out front, arm in arm with the business community, expressing outrage. When you have the unions and the business groups on the same side, you know it's time to pay attention.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY #1: ANOTHER DETAINEE DIES AFTER BEING DENIED MEDICINE
I've reported on two deaths in the last day of immigrants in detention. Now Dan Kowalski over at Bender's Immigration Bulletin is carrying a story from the Los Angeles Daily Journal on yet another death of an ill immigrant in detention.
The Daily Journal's Sandra Hernandez tells of Victoria Arellano, an AIDS patient who was put in ICE custody in San Diego and denied the handful of prescription drugs needed to fight the disease. According to Hernandez's report, Arellano was denied both medicine and access to a doctor for more than two months before succumbing to the disease. Arellano also was shackled to a bed during the jailing.
The description of Arellano's final days is harrowing:
Shortly after that, Arellano was dead. ICE officials are denying they are failing to provide care. But I have reported on three deaths in two days in Texas, Rhode Island and California. And lawyers and advocacy groups around the country are complaining about systematic problems. These types of reports should be extremely rare. When they are happening every day, that's called a scandal.
MY FAQ DOCUMENT ON THE NEW NO-MATCH RULE
Hi folks - Here's my first FAQ on the new "no-match" rule that I've been discussing today. I am sure there are questions that I have not answered and I'll be updating this document as necessary. Good luck employers and workers. You'll need it.
Summary of the new “No-Match” Rule for Social Security Numbers
Prepared by Greg Siskind (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The long awaited “no-match letter” regulation from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been released. The rule describes the obligations of employers when they receive no-match letters from the Social Security Administration or receive a letter regarding employment verification forms from the Department of Homeland Security. The rule also provides “safe harbors” employers can follow to avoid a finding the employer had constructive knowledge that the employee referred to in the letter was an alien not authorized to work in the US. Employers with knowledge that an immigrant worker is unauthorized to accept employment are liable for both civil and criminal penalties.
The rule finalizes a proposed rule released on June 14, 2006. The Department of Homeland Security, ICE’s parent department, received nearly 5,000 comments on the rule from a variety of interested parties including employers, unions, lawyers and advocacy groups. According to DHS, the opinions were highly varied with both strong opposition and support being enunciated. DHS also held a meeting with business and trade associations to discuss the proposed rule.
Why is ICE issuing this rule?
All employers in the US are required to report social security earnings for their workers. Those W-2 form reports listing an employee’s name, social security number and the worker’s earnings are sent to the Social Security Administration. In some cases, the social security number and the name of the employee do not match. In some of these cases, the SSA sends an employer a letter informing the employer of the no-match.
In some cases, the no-match is the result of a clerical error or a name change. In other cases, it may indicate that an employee is not authorized to work.
ICE issues similar letters to employers after they conduct audits of an employer’s Employment Eligibility Verification forms (the I-9s) and find evidence that an immigration status document or employment authorization document does not match the name of the person on the I-9 document.
To date, there has been considerable confusion and debate over an employer’s obligations after receiving a letter like this as well as whether an employer would be considered to be on notice that an employee is not unauthorized to work. This rule clarifies both issues albeit in a way that will be very unfriendly to employers and workers.
DHS cites the Mester Manufacturing case from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to remind employers that if they will have “constructive” knowledge that an employee is out of status, they are in violation of IRCA, the statute that punishes employers for knowingly hiring unlawfully present workers or violating paperwork rules associated with the I-9 employment verification form.
When is this rule effective?
It becomes effective September 14, 2007.
How has the definition of “knowing” changed in the rule?
Two additional examples of “constructive knowledge” are added to the list of examples of information available to employers indicating an employee is not authorized to work in the US. First, if an employer gets a written notice from the SSA that the name and SSN do not match SSA records. And second, written notice is received from DHS that the immigration document presented in completing the I-9 was assigned to another person or there is no agency record that the document was assigned to anyone.
However, the question of whether an employer has “constructive knowledge” will “depend on the totality of relevant circumstances.” So this rule is just a safe harbor regulation telling how an employer can avoid a constructive knowledge finding, but not guaranteeing that an employer will be deemed to have constructive knowledge if the safe harbor procedure is not followed.
What steps must an employer take if it gets a no-match letter?
First, an employer must check its records to determine if the error was a result of a typographical, transcription or similar clerical error. If there is an error, the employer should correct the error and inform the appropriate agency – DHS or SSA depending on which agency sent the no-match letter. The employer should then verify with that agency that the new number is correct and internally document the manner, date and time of the verification. ICE is indicating in the preamble to the regulation that 30 days is an appropriate amount of time for an employer to take these steps.
If these actions do not resolve the discrepancy, the employer should request an employee confirm the employer’s records are correct. If they are not correct, the employer needs to take corrective actions. That would include informing the relevant agency and verifying the corrected records with the agency. If the records are correct according to the employee, the reasonable employer should ask the employee to follow up with the relevant agency (such as by visiting an SSA office and bringing original or certified copies of required identity documents). Just as noted above, thirty days is a reasonable period of time for an employer to take this step.
The rules provide that a discrepancy is only resolved when the employer has received verification from SSA or DHS that the employee’s name matches the record.
When 90 days have passed without a resolution of the discrepancy, an employer must undertake a procedure to verify or fail to verify the employee’s identity and work authorization. If the process is completed, an employer will NOT have constructive knowledge that an employee is not work authorized if the system verifies the employee (even if the employee turns out not to be employment authorized). This assumes that an employer does not otherwise have actual or constructive knowledge that an employee is not work authorized.
If the discrepancy is not resolved and the employee’s identity and work authorization are not verified, the employer must either terminate the employee or face the risk that DHS will find constructive knowledge of lack of employment authorization.
What is the procedure to re-verify identity and employment authorization when an employee has not resolved the discrepancy as described above?
Sections 1 and 2 of the I-9 would need to be completed within 93 days of receiving the no-match letter. So if an employer took the full 90 days to try and resolve the problem, they then have three more days to complete the new I-9. And an employee may not use a document containing the disputed SSN or alien number or a receipt for a replacement of such a document. Only documents with a photograph may be used to establish identity.
Does an employer need to use the same procedure to verify employment authorization for each employee that is the subject of a no-match letter?
Yes, the anti-discrimination rules require employer to apply these procedures uniformly. DHS is also reminding employers about the document abuse provisions which bar employers from failing to honor documents that on their face appear reasonable. But employers now have the safe harbor of a new regulation stating that this provision does not apply to documents that are the subject of a no-match letter.
DHS notes that if employers require employees to complete a new I-9 form, the employer must not apply this on a discriminatory basis and should require an I-9 verification for ALL employees who fail to resolve SSA discrepancies and apply a uniform policy to all employees who refuse to participate in resolving discrepancies and completing new I-9s.
What if the employer has heard that an employee is unlawfully present aside from hearing from SSA or DHS in a no-match letter?
Employers who have ACTUAL knowledge that an alien is unauthorized to work are liable under the INA even if they have complied with the I-9 and no-match rules. But the government has the burden of proving actual knowledge. DHS also notes that constructive knowledge may still be shown by reference to other evidence.
Does DHS have the authority to regulate the treatment of notices received by the SSA?
A number of comments on the rule questioned this issue, but they were dismissed by DHS. Presumably, the issue could be the source of litigation.
Why is DHS issuing this rule when the White House supports comprehensive immigration reform that would give employers legal options for hiring these workers?
DHS indicated in the preamble to the rule that while it wants to work with Congress on such legislation, there is no way to predict when it will pass and interior enforcement needs to be conducted. Others are arguing that the White House is interested in demonstrating to Congress that it is “getting tough” on illegal immigration in order to increase the likelihood that members of Congress would support CIR.
Will following the procedures in this rule protect an employer from all claims of constructive knowledge, or just claims of constructive knowledge base on the letters for which the employers followed the safe-harbor procedure?
An employer who follows the safe harbor procedure will be considered to have taken all reasonable steps in response to the notice and the employer’s receipt of the written notice will there not be used as evidence of constructive knowledge. But if other independent exists that an employer had constructive knowledge, the employer is not protected.
Are there any special rules for circumstances such as seasonal workers, teachers on sabbatical and employees out of the office for an extended period due to excused absence or disability?
No, but DHS has noted that the rule provides a safe harbor to prove an employer does NOT have constructive knowledge and that if an employer makes a good faith effort to resolve a situation as rapidly as practicable and documents such efforts, that would be considered in evaluating the question of constructive knowledge.
What are the time frames required under the rule to take each necessary action after receiving the no-match letter?
Employer checks own records, makes any necessary corrections of errors, and verifies corrections with SSA or DHS (0 – 30 days)
If necessary, employer notifies employee and asks employee to assist in correction (0-90 days)
If necessary, employer corrects own records and verifies correction with SSA or DHS (0-90 days)
If necessary, employer performs special I-9 procedure (90-93 days)
May an employer continue to employ a worker a worker throughout the process noted above?
Yes. The only reason an employer would have to terminate prior to 93 days if the employer gains actual knowledge of unauthorized employment. DHS notes that it is not requiring termination by virtue of this rule; rather, they are just providing a safe harbor to avoid a finding of constructive knowledge. Employers may be permitted to terminate based on its own personnel files including failing to show up for work or an employee’s false statement to the employer. [Note: SSB always recommends consulting labor counsel before terminating employees for such reasons during the no-match process].
Employers may terminate as well if they notify an employee of the no-match letter and the employee admits that he or she is unauthorized to work.
What if the no-match letter is sent to the employee, not the employer?
The new rule only applies in cases where the written notice is to the employer.
Does it matter which person at the employer receives the letter?
No and DHS will not allow a designated person to receive these letters despite concerns raised about a no-match letter not making it to the appropriate party for too long. DHS has noted that an employer can determine an office within a company that becomes the recipient of all mail from DHS and SSA.
Does verification through systems other than that described in this rule provide a safe harbor?
No, and this includes instances where SSA provides options SSN verification as well as the USCIS electronic employment verification system. But DHS does note that DHS may choose to use prosecutorial discretion when employers take such steps.
Does an employer filing for a labor certification or employment-based green card application have constructive knowledge constitute “constructive knowledge” that a worker is unauthorized?
The new rule includes language stating “an employee’s request that the employer file a labor certification or employment-based visa petition on behalf of the employee” may be an example of a situation that may, depending on the totality of relevant circumstances, require an employer to take reasonable steps in order to avoid a finding of constructive knowledge. But DHS notes that some employees are work-authorized and are not necessarily unauthorized to work just because they request such sponsorship from an employer.
Does an employer have to help an employee resolve the discrepancy with SSA or DHS?
No. An employer merely needs to advise the employee of the time frame to resolve. They are not obligated to help resolve the question or share any guidance provided by SSA.
In what manner must employers retain records required under the new rule?
The rule is flexible in this regard and employers may use any manner it chooses. The rule permits employers to keep records alongside the I-9 form. Employers are encouraged to document telephone conversations as well as all written correspondence.
If a new I-9 is prepared based on this rule, does that affect the amount of time the I-9 must be retained?
No. The original hire date remains the same even though the safe harbor procedure is used. So if an employer was hired several years ago, for example, has the I-9 form prepared again and then moves on to a new employer, the original date of hire applies for purposes of determining whether the one year retention requirement still applies.
Doesn’t requiring an employee to fill out a new I-9 form per this rule constitute document abuse?
DHS does not believe this is the case because any document presented that contained a suspect SSN or alien number would not be facially valid and that it is proper for employers to require new documentation.
Won’t this rule lead to massive firings across the country?
Many people are certainly worried that employers won’t bother to go through the safe harbor procedures and will just panic and fire all workers that are the subject of these notices or will simply decide not to spend the effort complying. DHS denies that this is likely to be the case and has said the rule is in response to confusion under the current process.
Will an employer be liable for terminating an employee who turns out to be work authorized if they get a no-match letter?
If the employee IS authorized to work and an employer does not go through the various safe harbor steps in the rule, then the employer might be liable in an unlawful termination suit.
Won’t this rule result in a major negative economic impact on the country?
That is an argument being advanced by many opponents of the rule. DHS only responds that this is speculative and also that complaints that small firms would be disproportionately affected because of the costs in complying are speculative as well.
What if the employee is gone by the time the no-match letter arrives?
An employer is not obligated to act on a no-match letter for employees no longer employed by them.
Aren’t SSA and DHS databases unreliable?
DHS admits that the SSA and DHS databases have problems (as evidenced by GAO studies). But they say a no-match letter is nothing more than an indicator of a problem and that this does not warrant alone stopping the changes proposed in the rule.
Won’t this rule encourage identity theft?
DHS denies it, but critics are concerned that the only step left for workers is to ensure that a social security number and name match and the only way for an unlawfully present worker to ensure this is to usurp someone’s identity. DHS believes the criminal penalties for identity theft will act as a sufficient deterrent.
QUICK AND DIRTY SUMMARY OF THE 26 ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE
Here is the memo I have prepared for clients at my firm. I'm working on a separate memo summarizing the no match rule and hope to have that out shortly.
To: Siskind Susser Bland Clients
From: Greg Siskind
Re: DHS policy initiatives announcement
The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce held a joint press conference this morning to announce a number of steps the Bush Administration is taking that the White House believes will result in improved border and interior immigration enforcement, streamlined guest worker programs, improved overall immigration processing and more assimilation of new immigrants. Critics believe that many of the changes – particularly the social security no match rule - could have a profoundly negative effect on the US economy and create social chaos across the country. The most important change for businesses is likely the social security no match letter which will be covered in more detail in separate memorandum to file. Here is a quick overview of the announced changes.
The White House announced the following border security benchmarks to be achieved by the end of 2008:
- 18,300 Border Patrol Agents (with an additional 1,700 to be added in 2009)
- 370 miles of fencing
- 300 miles of vehicle barriers
- 105 camera and radar towers
- Three additional unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the borders with an additional one to be added in 2009
All illegal border crossers from countries other than Mexico will be returned to the border and removed from the country (continuing the policy of no “catch and release” of such intending immigrants).
Funding for detention bed space will increase in order to allow for holding 31,500 illegally present immigrants. The White House also said it will continue to work with “recalcitrant” countries to repatriate citizens of those countries.
DHS will expand the list of dangerous organized gangs from other countries whose members are barred from entering the US.
DHS will implement exit tracking under the US-VISIT program at all airports and seaports by the end of 2008. And DHS will establish a new pilot-basis land-border exit system for guest workers.
A phased-in requirement that passports be used for travel in to Canada and other countries in the region will be retained and starting January 31, 2008, DHS will phase in a requirement for passports to be used at all sea and land ports of entry. Passports have been required at airports since January 2007 (though backlogs in passport processing have resulted in some exceptions being permitted).
Beginning this autumn, the Homeland Security Secretary will deliver a “State of the Border” annual report advising on efforts to secure the border.
The White House is training hundreds of state and local law enforcement officers to assist in immigration enforcement under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
By the fall, USICE expects to have increased by five times the number of ICE enforcement teams devoted to removing fugitive aliens.
The Justice Department will issue a rule holding that aliens in voluntary departure status who file motions to reopen their cases will have their voluntary departure status terminated and make the alien subject to the order of removal and subject to a new $3000 civil penalty for failing to comply with a voluntary departure agreement.
ICE is releasing the long awaited “no-match” regulation (see separate summary on this new rule). Employers will have 90 days to resolve no match letters involving mismatched social security numbers and worker names.
DHS will publish a new rule in the coming months that will cut down the number of acceptable documents for I-9 purposes.
Civil fines for knowingly hiring illegally present immigrants will be increased by 25%. The number of criminal investigations will be increased as well. The White House noted that the number of prosecutions have increased from 24 in 1999 to 716 in the most recent fiscal year.
DHS will begin a rulemaking process to require federal contractors to participate in the Basic Pilot electronic verification system. DHS will also help states that are now requiring the use of the system for their states’ employers. Data sources used in the system will be expanded to fight identity theft and DHS will seek to partner with states that volunteer to share photographs in their department of motor vehicle databases.
Guest Worker Program Changes
The White House has directed DHS to look at the H-2A agricultural worker program to find ways to provide farmers with an “orderly and timely flow of legal workers, while protecting the rights of laborers.”
The H-2B program will be converted to an attestation system akin to the PERM program for green cards. This is expected to dramatically speed up processing on H-2B cases.
TN visas for Canadians and Mexicans will now be granted in three year increments, the same as for H-1Bs.
DHS and DOL are being directed to study and report on further administrative reforms to visa programs for highly skilled workers.
Improving Existing Immigration
The White House will reform and expedite the background check process by investing substantial new funds to address the backlog and to work on new projects to streamline the system to reduce waiting times without sacrificing security.
DHS and the Social Security Administration will study ways to prevent workers from getting credit in social security for money paid in while out of status.
According to DHS, USCIS will begin using a new citizenship test starting next month that emphasizes “fundamental concepts in American democracy, basic US history and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.” The test will be standardized in order to deal with perceived disparities in the quality of testing between district offices.
USCIS’ Office of Citizenship will begin offering a web-based training program to help people prepare for the naturalization process. USCIS will also convene eight regional conferences aimed at training citizenship instructors and volunteers preparing people for the new examination and online training materials for instructors will also be provided.
Web-based English language training will also be available for the general public.
NO MATCH LETTER RULE RELEASED
The rule is out and I'm now preparing a summary. I"m hoping to post later today (my version is 56 pages so it will take a little while). The broader plan has also been announced and I'll post on that shortly.
CONGRESSWOMAN ATTACKS BANKS FOR GIVING DEBIT CARDS TO ILLEGALLY PRESENT IMMIGRANTS
I have the dubious distinction of living in the district of one of the more anti-immigrant members of Congress, Republican Marsha Blackburn. Ms. Blackburn's latest anti-immigration crusade focuses on banks like Bank of America that have permitted individuals to qualify for debit cards using foreign-government issued identification documents. This allows some people who lack legal immigration status to qualify for debit cards.
Blackburn wrote a piece this week in the National Journal that attacked such practices on grounds that it is helping terrorists as well as illegally present immigrants she broadly painted as a criminal class.
I was interviewed in the Memphis Commercial Appeal on the matter yesterday. Aside from what I'm quoted as telling the reporter, I was not quoted regarding the very serious reason why it's in the public interest to allow institutions to issue these cards. Illegally present workers are often paid in cash and without bank accounts, they are forced to carry all their earnings on them. That in turn has been attracting criminals (primarily from outside the immigrant communities) to prey on these easy targets who have a strong incentive not to report the crimes to police. If you think that's the immigrants' problem andnot yours, think again. The increase in crime will no doubt spill over to the rest of your community.http://article.nationalreview.com/email/?q=Zjk2YzRhNjI3N2ZlMmM0NjA0NGYxMmZiNzViNjYzOWE=
SURPRISES IN STORE FROM DHS TODAY
Aside from the no match rule which we've been expecting for some time, the Bush Administration will announce several other reforms that are related to immigration enforcement as well as some other items that affect immigration in other areas. One of the most important will be an announcement that DHS will extend the period of admission on TN visas under the NAFTA treaty with Canada and Mexico from one year to three years. This will certainly be welcome to those folks who annually deal with the headaches of getting their status
The Administration has promised to put more resources in to conducting background checks. Other changes are expected in the H-2A and H-2B programs, a reduction in acceptable documents for I-9 purposes, increased numbers of Border Patrol officers, more cooperation with state and local law enforcement officers in detaining immigration violators and a revised naturalization test designed to be
The announcement is also expected to include an acceleration of the exit tracking system at airports and other ports of entry and higher fees for employers determined to have broken immigration laws. And the list of international gangs whose members are barred admission to the US will be expanded.
More to follow...
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: PARMINDER NAGRA - ACTRESS
Parminder's name is not familiar to most Americans, but most of us probably would know her if we saw her. She starred in the hit movie Bend it Like Beckham and had a lead role in Ella Enchanted and has played Dr. Neela Rasgotra for the past four seasons on the hit American show ER.
[UPDATE: I forgot to mention something immigration-related that I thought was interesting. I caught an interview with Ms. Nagra some time back with talk show host Craig Ferguson and the two were commiserating about DHS port officers and the poor treatment each had received by the immigration immigration officials.]
KEEP, REMOVE OR HIDE?
Humor from Mo Rocca. Rocca picks random nouns and asks the person on the street "keep, remove, or hide." You can find Rocca's blogging on this here.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: SECOND ICE DETAINEE DIES IN CUSTODY
Shortly ago, I told of the death of a pregnant woman at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in El Paso, Texas. According to the Boston Globe, within hours of that incident a SECOND person died from a seizure while in custody in New England. Edmar Araujo, a 34 year old Brazilian national, was picked up on a deportation warrant in Rhode Island yesterday after being stopped for a traffic violation. Arauja is an epileptic and immediately called his sister to ask him to bring his medication, Gardenal, to police headquarters in Woonsocket, Rhode Island where he was being held awaiting transfer to an ICE detention facility. Law enforcement agencies like the one in Woonsocket have been signing agreements with ICE to act as "deputies" where they are now arresting people on immigration violations and turning them over to the immigration enforcement agency.
In this case, it appears that the law enforcement officials were warned of the urgent need for Araujo to get his medicine. His sister told reporters that she was turned away be officers who refused to accept the medicine:
Ms. Araujo was frightened enough to go to a neighboring police department in Milford to ask that department to relay her concerns to the Woonsocket police. That didn't happen.
As I noted in my post from earlier this afternoon about the pregnant woman who died, this is NOT unusual. And the article in the Boston Globe about this case noted this:
PREGNANT WOMAN DIES IN ICE DETENTION CENTER
Rosa Contreras Dominguez, a pregnant woman facing deportation, died yesterday at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in El Paso, Texas. Dominguez, a permanent resident facing deportation for importing marijuana, had been complaining about a pain behind her right knee.
I think its really too early to say whether ICE did anything wrong here (hence, my not calling this an "outrage of the day"), though the family is requesting an autopsy to better understand what happened. And there have been numerous complaints in recent years about the medical care offered to those in ICE detention centers. So it is obviously important to learn what happened.
NO MATCH RULE EXPECTED TOMORROW
We've known the no match rule for social security numbers that I've been commenting on has been on the near horizon, but sources are now telling me the rule will likely be released in the next 24 hours. I intend to provide a detailed summary as soon as I get my hand on the final version and will post after that.
THE MISERY STRATEGY
The New York Times has a good editorial today providing an overview of where the country is going on immigration. And it ain't pretty.
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: TINA BROWN - JOURNALIST/AUTHOR
Funny, I had Tina Brown on my list for future profiles and there she is on this evening's The Colbert Report. Brown is a British native who acquired US citizenship and who is known for her leadership of publications like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Before moving to the US, she contributed articles to the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph in the UK.
Brown is actually on the talk show circuit these days touting her new book The Diana Chronicles about her friend Diana, the Princess of Wales.
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: WIFE DENIED VISA TO ATTEND MURDERED HUSBAND'S FUNERAL
The widow of an Indian cab driver who was shot last week by a gang member in Seattle has been denied a visitor visa to come to the US to attend her husband's funeral. Jagjit Singh had been saving money to bring his wife to the US. Jagjit's colleagues raised $10,000 to pay for his widow to come to the US, but a US consulate in India denied Mrs. Singh a visa to attend her husband's funeral. Seattle taxi drivers went ahead and held a Mr. Singh's funeral this past weekend.
WHEN GOOD COUNTRIES MAKE BAD LAWS
I received this amusing email with a letter from an officer in a national trade association that is working to comprehensive immigration reform. I think the take on the subject is a little different. I'd give credit to its author, but believe he wanted some anonymity. I've also altered the text slightly to remove the reference to the particular association that was the subject of the original complaint letter:
VISA BULLETIN FAQs (PART 6)
USCIS has just released another Q & A document with more information for people filing for the August 17th deadline. Here are the highlights:
Q - Which form I-485 is to be used for cases filed now?
A - Use the one dated "7/30/07 Y"
Q - Can you send in two checks on an adjustment - one based on the old fee and a second based on a new one?
A - USCIS will accept this, but cautions people against doing it because it will potentially result in mistakes and slow down the process. They remind customers that the old I-485, I-765 and I-131 still apply until the 17th.
Q - What if the original labor certification is not supplied with the I-140 petition such as if the original has been lost or previously filed with USCIS?
A - I'll quote on this because it's not written particularly well - "While an original labor certification must be submitted in support of certain I-140 petitions, USCIS will continue to accept duplicates of previously filed labor certificates and, as in the instances stated above, in cases where an original labor certificate has been properly filed with USCIS." So does this mean you can submit a copy when the original is either missing or submitted with a previous case? Yes on the latter, but I don't think it's clear on the former. Does this mean a duplicate approval ordered from DOL or a copy? Not sure.
Q - For Schedule A cases, will USCIS accept concurrently filed cases after August 1, 2007?
A - Generally no. I-140s can be submitted, but for an adjustment to be filed, a priority date must have been established before August 1st, something that would not be possible since a priority date is established in Schedule A cases on the date the I-140 is filed.
Q - Where do you file the I-485 if the I-140 was filed before Direct Filing went in to force last month?
A - File at the appropriate direct filing service center with the receipt for the I-140 even if that receipt was issued by another service center. If you lack an I-140 receipt, put the following on a brightly colored sheet of paper:
ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE TO DHS: GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER OR OUR EMPLOYERS WON'T USE BASIC PILOT PROGRAM
Both Chambers of the Illinois legislature have passed HB 1744. The measure bucks the trend of other states that have been requiring employers to use the Basic Pilot program and instead tells the Department of Homeland Security that it needs to make the program less prone to errors before Illinois employers can participate. The legislation's key provision states
After that, employers will still have to undergo training and follow basic employee notification guidelines in order to participate.
Illinois is responding to problems with the Basic Pilot program where employee's are rejected by the system and then the federal government taking too long to correct errors. Employers and potential employees are left handing out to dry when the government takes its time resolving a problem.
While I'm pleased with Illinois raising awareness of this very serious problem with the Basic Pilot Program, I'm curious about how constitutional lawyers will view this law. It could potentially come under the same attack from the other side that the Hazleton laws did. How far can a state go in interfering with the federal government's role in overseeing the nation's immigration system?
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 email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.