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

Bloggings: October 4, 2007

by Greg Siskind

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

October 02, 2007

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: DIPAK C. JAIN - DEAN

Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, one of America's premiere business schools, has an Indian-born American dean at its helm. Dipak Jain, a marketing expert, is also a regular visiting professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

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CHERTOFF: ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS CAUSING GLOBAL WARMING, ACID RAIN, DESTRUCTION OF WETLANDS AND OTHER HORRIBLE THINGS

Well, he didn't exactly say that. But he did say this in response to a question about the damage a border fence could do to the environment:

"Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas," Chertoff said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment."

The worst? Puhleeze. I know this is an immigration blog, but this President generally is regarded as a complete failure when it comes to the environment and Chertoff's answer is simply embarrassing. But I'm sure it will lead on Lou Dobbs tonight.

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JUDGE HINTS HE'S LEANING AGAINST GOVERNMENT IN NO MATCH CASE

The New York Time is reporting that Judge Charles Breyer made remarks yesterday suggesting he is planning on ruling against the government in the challenge to the new social security no match rule. The case centers around whether the government improperly issued the regulation without properly disclosing the burdens on employers. The plaintiffs also are focused on the high number of false positives improperly identifying US citizens and permanent residents. Opponents of the regulations argue that the Social Security Administration is not equipped to handle the surge in requests to clear up errors and innocent Americans could lose their job as a result.

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ANOTHER NAZI DEPORTED

Wow, the second case in a week. There's an interesting note in the article from the Times about how the OSI has been able to recently have more success matching old immigration records up with Nazi files.

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October 01, 2007

JUDGE EXTENDS NO MATCH LETTER RESTRAINING ORDER FOR AN ADDITIONAL TEN DAYS

The judge in San Francisco blocking the government from implementing the social security no match rule for an additional ten days. The ACLU reports. An interesting fact from their press release:

"We are pleased that the judge saw the need to continue to block this rule that would lead to increased exploitation of workers," said John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO. "More than 70% of SSA discrepancies refer to U.S. citizens but the DHS regulation would encourage employers to fire any worker based on these erroneous discrepancies, especially if she has an accent or is perceived to be foreign born."

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PERM BACKLOG GONE (WELL, MOSTLY)

The Department of Labor announced today that they have processed all cases in the Backlog Reduction Centers (except cases awaiting responses from employers). I actually have nothing smarmy to say and congratulate DOL on getting this task accomplished on time. I have to say I was skeptical. Now put those resources in to the PERM program and let's get to the "instant" adjudication goal touted when that program was originally rolled out.

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YOU CALL THIS A GUEST WORKER PROGRAM?

Download h-2b.pdf

The fiscal year begins today and 33,000 H-2B temporary and seasonal worker visas become available. And guess what? USCIS announced today that ALL 33,000 are already gone. 33,000 is 1/3 of the seats in the Rose Bowl football stadium just in case you think the number sounds like a lot. And it's a royal pain of a program to use - expensive, complicated, time consuming? Furthermore, if an employer has a long term worker shortage as opposed to a job just lasting a few months, the H-2B isn't even available.

And the other H-2B shoe to drop today aside from this announcement is the fact that the returning worker exemption from the H-2B count expired yesterday (seasonal workers returning for a new season are not counted against the H-2B cap). So that only compounds the problem. Congress was expected to extend that exemption, but has basically failed to get anything done this year (on any issue and not just immigration ones).

Maybe Congress will get the message when ski resorts don't have enough workers this winter or the landscaping at the Capitol starts to look shabby?

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IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: SUSAN POLGAR - CHESS GRANDMASTER/CHILDREN'S ADVOCATE

Hungarian-born Susan Polgar has a

very nice article profiling her today in the Associated Press. Not only is she one of the world's greatest chess competitors (she was the first chess player of either sex to win the trip crown of international tournaments - the World Blitz and the Rapid and Classical World Championships), but she does a lot of work for charity and has been promoting chess to kids around the country. S he's particularly focused on getting girls interested in chess, something that has not been emphasized in the past.

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September 30, 2007

OH REALLY?

Gee, this is really breaking news. USCIS says that they're behind in getting receipts issued for the adjustment applications filed in July. Thanks USCIS for telling us something we didn't know. And thanks for the apology for the lousy service </sarcasm off>. Sometimes just saying you're sorry can make a huge difference in shedding a reputation for arrogance.

One sleeper issue - USCIS says they're re-allocating resources to get employment cards issued based on those applications in the 90 day time frame required under the law. But in the question on travel documents, they basically say "We'll get to it when we get to it and don't even think about traveling outside the country until then." This is the next crisis we're going to see. A lot of people adjusting don't have H-1B visas and traveling will void the adjustment applications. That means emergency parole requests all over the country (as is already seemingly happening). Expect to hear a lot about problems in this area.

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NOT EVERYONE DESERVES THE RIGHT TO IMMIGRATE

When we fill out an I-485 application to adjust status for our clients, there are a number of questions that I have never, ever had to answer in the affirmative. And thank goodness. Have you ever engaged in political assassination? A hijacking?  Killed someone on account of their race or religion? And then there's the Nazi question. We know a number of them hid their pasts and made it in to the US. The late Simon Weisenthal achieved fame tracking them down. But after 62 years, are there any still alive in the US who have yet to be identified and deported? There are still a few and one apparently recently turned up in a retirement community in Arizona. He admitted to his role in atrocities and has been deported.

The Department of Justice has a unit called the Office of Special Investigations devoted to tracking down and deporting Nazi war criminals. In the next few years, there work tracking down Nazis will obviously come to a conclusion. But they are in the process of transitioning in their mission to track down perpetrators of more recent atrocities and are now investigating war criminals from places like Chile, Bosnia and Cambodia. We can all hope that one day, we'll no longer need an OSI because there will be no war criminals in the world. Until then, it is good to know that we have an OSI.   

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IF AMERICA IS ON SALE, WHY IS BUSINESS TRAVEL TO THE US DOWN?

Thomas Friedman addresses why the US is hurting it's own interests when it goes overboard in blocking the world's travelers from easily entering this country. Not a shocker, but Friedman always does a great job making the case. He interviews Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association for the article:

[Dow] told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11 — even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. “Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world,” Mr. Dow said.

Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that “the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.” Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us.

My favorite quote:

If Disney World can remain an open, welcoming place, with increased but invisible security, why can’t America?

Thanks to reader Patrick for the link suggestion.

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ICE TAKES ON AMERICA's OBESITY CRISIS

Got your attention with that headline, didn't I? OK, this one is really conflicting me. I'm a big Morgan Spurlock fan which means the fast food industry is not exactly high on my list. So I have to say that if interior enforcement focuses on any one industry, it should be this one. Not that I take lightly how deportations are going to affect the workers, but when I post about how important immigrant workers are to the welfare of the country, this is not what I have in mind.

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IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: BRIAN GEORGE - CHARACTER ACTOR

"Jerry Seinfeld is a very, very bad man"

Seinfeld television show fans will remember these were words uttered by Babu Bhatt in the famous episode "The Visa". Babu is a former Pakistani restaurant owner (Jerry ruined his business two seasons before). Jerry and Elaine offer to do Babu a favor and watch his mail for his visa renewal paperwork while he is out of town and of course forget to do it. The final scene of the show has a deported Babu cursing Jerry from a café in Pakistan.

Of course as an immigration lawyer I'm prone to overanalyze the accuracy of the storyline, but had to take a step back and laugh. But I guess there have been many cases where a lost piece of mail caused an immigration crisis.

Babu is played by Brian George, a British-Israeli-Indian-Iraqi-Canadian actor who has had a long and very successful career playing a variety of ethnic characters in film and television. He was born in Jerusalem to an Indian mother and an Iraqi father (who was raised in India) and then moved to London as a child and then later with his family to Toronto. He joined Toronto's famous Second City comedy troupe and then, like many of the Second City alumni, went on to work in Hollywood.

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September 29, 2007

VOTE FOR PEDRO

OK, I put that line in for my kids who love the film Napoleon Dynamite. This is the story of Pedro Zapeta, a Guatemalan dishwasher in Stuart, Florida for the last 13 years who worked hard and saved virtually all of his money by doing things like riding his bike to work and not having much of a life. His dream was to buy a piece of land back in Guatemala for himself and his mother. Unbelievably, he managed to save $59,000, money he kept in cash at his home. Tired of his life in Florida, he was ready to go home.

Unfortunately, Pedro didn't know about US customs laws. He took a duffel bag with his savings, went to the airport and was ready to board the flight when, you guessed it, Customs officials seized the money. US laws bar one from taking more than $10,000 outside the US without declaring it ahead of time. The US doesn't want to return the money even though Pedro is offering to pay any taxes that may be owing (incidentally, he probably doesn't owe taxes because his income was too low, so before people get all in a huff about him being a tax cheat, chew on that one).

Here's a guy who is not a criminal and just wants to go home. If we had any decency as a country, we would give this man back his hard-earned savings and wish him well.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT CARTER

Joseph Curran, an immigration lawyer that handles health care matters, has written a letter to President Carter responding to the President's criticism of my this . Joseph does a nice job laying out the response to the brain drain argument.

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September 28, 2007

HOW AMNESTY BROUGHT YOU THE CAMERA PHONE

To hear anti-immigrant activists speak, you would think that the three million unlawfully present immigrants who legalized in 1986 were a bunch of welfare cheats who went out and committed crimes in between stealing a job or two. What we don't hear is just how successful that program was in terms of allowing many, many people to come out of the shadows and lead productive - some very product - lives.

My friend Sam pointed out that an individual I profiled last month was one of those beneficiaries. Philippe Kahn, the founder of software giant Borland and the inventor of the camera phone, came to the US on a tourist visa in the early 80s, overstayed and then was able to legalize his status in 1986 in the legalization program. Kahn landed a job with Hewlett-Packard in 1982, but lost the job because of his immigration status. After getting the green card in 1986, Kahn went on to achieve greatness.

For all those who attack the concept of "amnesty" will you surrender your cell phones in protest?

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September 27, 2007

KEEP DREAMING...

Once again, the Senate has punted on taking a vote on the DREAM Act. The plan was to attach it to the Department of Defense budget bill. Opponents fell in to two camps - those against the DREAM Act and those against including non-budget items on budget bills. If a single Senator raises an objection as to the germaneness of the amendment, then 60 votes must be secured to overcome the objection. The votes to overcome the germaneness objection were apparently not in place.

However, the news is not all that grim. Apparently, many of those objecting to attaching the DREAM Act to the budget bill fell in to the second camp I mentioned and actually would support DREAM if it came up on a standalone bill. And Senator Reid seemed to acknowledge this when he stated that there will be a vote on DREAM by itself before the Senate adjourns. The votes so far look like they could very well be there to pass the bill.

TX - Thanks for the link.

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IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: JANUSZ KAMINSKI - CINEMATOGRAPHER

Two Academy Awards (and 16 more nominations) and being the exclusive cinematographer for Steven Spielberg? Not too shabby for Polish immigrant Janusz Zygmunt Kamiński. Cinematography is generally equivalent to director of photography in a movie. Kamiński won film's highest award for his work in the memorable films Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, arguably two of the most important movies in the last quarter century. Kamiński immigrated to the US to become a cinematography student at Columbia College Chicago where he earned a bachelors degree and then went on to earn his masters degree at the American Film Institute.

Incidentally, he's currently working on the new Indiana Jones movie. It's about time they continued that great series of films.

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September 26, 2007

CAN WE HAVE A DO-OVER?

Maybe driving all the immigrants out of town isn't such a hot idea...

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KOWALSKI: OBAMA'S DISAPPOINTS IN FIRST DETAILED "INTERVIEW" ON IMMIGRATION

Dan Kowalski, editor of Bender's Immigration Bulletin, has some tough words for leading Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, particularly concerning border enforcement measures. I tend to agree with Dan, but when it comes to the Democratic presidential candidates, we're grading on a curve. With the possible exceptions of John McCain and Rudy Guiliani who have good records and haven't succumbed to the anti-immigration mania in the GOP, the Republican contenders are likely are so bad that they wouldn't even answer interview questions from a pro-immigration group.

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FEDEX TRUCK CRASH NEAR DALLAS; HUNDREDS OF PACKAGES MAY BE LOST

This is only immigration news because a lot of people use Fedex to ship packages to the USCIS Regional Service Center in Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas. If you are sending a package to the TSC, you might want to make sure it got there.

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About The Author

Greg Siskind 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 gsiskind@visalaw.com.


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


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