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Bloggings: December 13, 2007

by Greg Siskind

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

December 12, 2007

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: MUHTAR KENT - SOON TO BE CEO

CEO week continues here at Immigrant of the Day. Earlier in the week, Coca Cola announced that it was replacing Irish-born E. Neville Isdelle as Chief Executive Officer with American-born Muhtar Kent. When I read Mr. Kent's biography however, something struck me as odd. Mr. Kent only lived in the US for a few years and was raised in Turkey. He was educated in Europe and is said to be a dual US-Turkish national. But presumably, he's not an immigrant because he was born in the US, right?

Actually, that's very likely not the case in Mr. Kent's situation. You see, his father was the Turkish Consul-General in New York at the time he was born. And children of diplomats do not attain birthright citizenship as is the case with 99.9999% of other children of immigrants born in this country. I cannot say with absolute certainty that Mr. Kent is a naturalized citizen of the US, the odds are extremely high that he is.

Mr. Kent began his career at Coca Cola in the US as a young man, was transferred back to Turkey to run Coca Cola's operations there in 1985 and was promoted to higher positions until he left the company in 1999 as its vice president of international operations. He headed up a Turkish beverage company for the next few years and then rejoined Coca Cola in 2005 and has overseen Coke's non-US operations for the past two years. Coke announced this week that Kent will become the company's leader on July 1, 2008.

Interestingly, Mr. Kent's father Necdet Kent is known as the Turkish Oskar Schindler for helping to rescue dozens of Jews from Nazi persecution.

HUCKABEE ACCEPTS ENDORSEMENT OF CONTROVERSIAL MINUTEMEN FOUNDER

If you want to throw red meat to the antis, there's no better way to do it than accepting the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project, the vigilante group that has taken to patrolling the border. Gilchrist has been ousted as the head of the Minutemen over sordid accusations of financial improprieties, not his views, but apparently Mike Huckabee thinks it's important to have his blessing.

Gilchrist appears to be a lovely person. The Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the country's leading civil rights organizations known for its monitoring of hate groups around the US, has reported on the Minutemen links to white supremacist groups.

He also seems to have some pretty interesting views on how to fight illegal immigration:

"I'm not going to promote insurrection, but if it happens, it will be on the conscience of the members of Congress who are doing this," he said. "I will not promote violence in resolving this, but I will not stop others who might pursue that."

So much for the compassionate Mike Huckabee. But I guess he has to deal with that iffy rating from NumbersUSA.

December 11, 2007
VISA BULLETIN NEWS DISMAL FOR ADVANCE DEGREE INDIANS

There's plenty of discouraging news to go around. Are you angry? Then channel that into advocacy to make your voice heard. Every person on line in the employment-based categories is on line because they can prove that they are filling jobs for which Americans are not available, their work is in the national interest, they're multinational executives and managers in companies employing many Americans, they are outstanding researchers and professors, they're star athletes and entertainers, etc. These are all people who can demonstrate that they are needed here and that they are making America stronger. So why are we limiting their numbers to an amount set in the 1980s?

As for the news, the EB-2 category for Indians has moved backwards by a full two years to January 2000. This means that advanced degree professionals - medical doctors, rocket scientists, etc. - are going to have to wait an unbelievable EIGHT years for a green card. EB-2 is actually behind EB-3, something that is an extremely rare occurrence. EB-3 numbers for Indians stayed put at 1 May 2001.

Congress needs to finally move to

1. Dramatically increase green card numbers for highly skilled workers and end green card caps all together for people in Schedule A occupations (those certified by DOL as having a severe shortage) or people serving the national interest (such as doctors in medically underserved areas, teachers in public school systems with teacher shortages, etc.).
2. Stop counting spouses and children in the quota
3. End per country limits since they result in dramatic disparities in the way immigrants are treated based on where they happened to have been born as opposed to the benefits they provide America
4. Allow applicants in the US on non-immigrant work visas to file adjustment applications when an I-140 is filed regardless of whether a visa number is available

ARIZONA EMPLOYERS REGROUP AND AGAIN FILE SUIT TO BLOCK IMMIGRATION LAW

This past weekend, a judge threw out the lawsuit challenging the Arizona law that starting on January 1st would revoke business licenses for Arizona employers found to have violated immigration laws and require employers to use the federal e-Verify electronic employment verification system. Now employers have redrafted the suit to address the bases of the judge's ruling and this morning refiled the suit. Kudos to the the Ballard Spahr law firm for their fast action and good luck to Arizona Employer for Immigration Reform. The case can be downloaded here

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: VIKRAM PANDIT - CEO

This is CEO week here at Immigrant of the Day :-).

Actually, thanks go to reader USC who provided the tip that Citigroup has tapped Indian immigrant Vikram Pandit to take over the company and steer it through the troubled waters of the subprime lending crisis. Pandit, a native of Nagpur, India, came to the US to study electrical engineering at Columbia and eventually went on to get a Ph.D. in finance from the same university. Prior to joining Citi, he served as the head of institutional investing at Morgan Stanley. Foreign students staying on and eventually rising through the ranks of America's top companies to take senior leadership positions has become a hot and encouraging trend. It's showing that we're attracting the brightest and most capable from around the world and these folks are also helping to influence the global outlook of the companies as American firms compete in international markets. Perhaps our consular officers should pay heed to this trend and think about the fact that the young graduate student denied a student visa today may be a CEO in twenty years. Congrats, Mr. Pandit.

December 10, 2007
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: HECTOR RUIZ - CEO

A Mexican teenager who speaks no English and ends up graduating from a Texas high school as valedictorian is a pretty good story. A better story is that young man growing up to become one of the leading executives in the American technology sector. Dr. Hector Ruiz finished at the top of his high school class and went on to eventually receive a Ph.D. from Rice University. He began work with Texas Instruments and then moved to Motorola where he rose to become one of that company's top executives. In 2000, he joined Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., one of the world's leading semiconductor companies and he now serves as that company's Chief Executive Officer.

As part of an effort to help the underprivileged, Dr. Ruiz announced at the 2004 World Economic Forum in Davos AMD's 50x15 initiative, a commitment to empower 50% of the world's population with basic Internet access by the year 2015.  

December 09, 2007
IMMIGRATION HUMOR

Former Daily Show correspondent Mo Rocco interviews people about the new hot button issue - gay, illegal aliens seeking to drive illegally to get married.

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: ERIC KANDEL - NOBEL PRIZE WINNER IN MEDICINE

Eric Kandel is another example of someone who entered this country as a refugee and contributed in a massive way to the country that gave his family safe haven. Kandel was born in Austria in 1929 to a middle class Jewish family and emigrated to the US after the country was taken over by the Nazis. He adapted quickly to the US and went on to receive his undergraduate degree at Harvard and his medical degree at New York University. He has devoted his life to the study of the physiology of memory and won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research in to the mechanisms of the mind.

ANTI-IMMIGRANT GROUP RATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

There are very few nice things I can say about the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA. But they do the pro-immigrant community a favor with their detailed ratings of members of Congress. And now they have done the same on presidential candidates for next November's election. Just flip the scores and you can tell which candidates pro-immigrant folks should consider supporting. The candidates are graded generally on their positions on legalization of unauthorized immigrants, immigration enforcement and ending legal immigration (which includes opposing non-immigrant visas like the H-1B as well as family and employment-based green cards). They are then graded on more specific issues in each category.

The long and short of it is that the Democrats all did poorly with the antis (which means they would score an "A" from us). The Republicans generally scored high and The only GOP candidates that did poorly with the antis on all measures is John McCain.

I received a couple of negative comments on a post the other day called "Sleeping Giant" discussing how the anti-immigration rhetoric being heard from many GOP candidates would come back to haunt that party as Hispanic voters exacted retribution at the polls. Some suggested that the GOP is only anti-ILLEGAL-immigration. But the NumbersUSA ratings tell a different story. So to the legal immigration advocates who somehow think that if they abandon the advocates for unauthorized immigrants, I ask that you take a look at the ratings of GOP candidates on legal immigration. Only three of the eight GOP candidates scored poorly with the antis on legal immigration - McCain, Romney and Guiliani. All seven Democrats scored poorly with the antis on the legal immigration question.

I'm not simply being partisan. If John McCain got his party's nomination, I would be very pleased to encourage his candidacy. I'd probably also have kind things to say about Mayor Guiliani if only because his record on immigration as mayor was commendable. But in general, every Democratic candidate can boast a pro-immigration record as strong as the strongest Republican.

December 08, 2007
IS HUCKABEE ENDORSING AN END TO THE 3/10 YEAR REENTRY BARS

Governor MIke Huckabee, the emerging Republican front runner, has released his immigration plan and hidden in what seems to be a pledge to oppose any kind of amnesty is this little nugget:

Prevent Amnesty

  • Policies that promote or tolerate amnesty will be rejected.
  • Propose to provide all illegal immigrants a 120-day window to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and leave the country. Those who register and return to their home country will face no penalty if they later apply to immigrate or visit; those who do not return home will be, when caught, barred from future reentry for a period of 10 years.

This sure seems to say that the current bars on reentry for overstays would no longer apply under the Huckabee plan. That would be a major development and certainly welcome news.

ARIZONA JUDGE THROWS OUT CHALLENGE TO NEW STATE IMMIGRATION LAW

An Arizona judge has thrown out a challenge to a new law that would revoke the business licenses of employers violating immigration laws and require employers to participate in the federal e-Verify system. The judge's ruling was based on technicalities - claiming that no one has suffered any harm yet because the law doesn't take effect until January 1st and because the wrong parties were sued (county prosecutors should have been named as defendants rather than the governor). Expect the ruling to be challenged or the case to be refiled since no determination on the actual substance of the complaint has yet been made. But this also means that the law will very likely go in to force on January 1st.

December 07, 2007
EWIC URGES MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO OPPOSE THE SAVE ACT

The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, the immigration advocacy group comprised of dozens of major American trade associations, has issued a letter to members of Congress urging them NOT to support HR 4088, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007 (the "SAVE Act"). The letter points out numerous flaws in the databases that will serve as the centerpiece of enforcement and which I have been blogging about in recent weeks.

THE SLEEPING GIANT

GOP presidential candidates are tripping over each other to court the nativist wing of their party, but a new Pew poll of Hispanic citizens shows that the cost of winning over this small segment of voters could be winning next November.

The GOP barely won the White House in the last two elections and part of that is because they were able to edge out Democrats in a few key states like Florida and Colorado. But new polling data suggests that Hispanic voters are shifting dramatically to the Democrats and immigration is the key reason.

Hispanic voters' percentage of the electorate has tripled since 1992 and their 40% support from President Bush in 2004 is arguably the reason for his narrow victory. In 2006, Hispanic support for GOP candidates fell to just 20%. According to the Pew survey, eight years of steady shifting of Hispanic allegiance to the GOP has been completely reversed. Hispanics now say by a 5 to 1 margin that Democrats care more about their issues. 79% now rank immigration as their key issue, up from 63% in 2004.

GIven that Hispanics are likely to constitute 12% or so of the electorate and given that their support for the GOP could drop in half from 2004, this shift could easily cost the GOP the election. And given that several key states the GOP won in the last two elections have large Hispanic populations, the fallout could be far worse than just the loss of a few percentage points.

KINSLEY: LET'S NOT KID OURSELVES

Michael Kinsley calls those to the carpet who say the immigration debate in this country is about following the law. It's not. It's about immigration, plain and simple.

STATE DEPARTMENT TO OPEN MEGA-PASSPORT CENTER

Good news from the Department of State which is trying to be pro-active in dealing with an anticipated increase in demand for passports in the coming months.

IMMIGRATION HUMOR: HOW TO GET DEPORTED 101

I guess she didn't chat first with an immigration lawyer...

This is pretty funny, though I guess not if you're Yuliya.

IMMIGRANTS OF THE DAY: THE SHAH FAMILY - PHYSICIANS

There's a great story in the Washington Post about which many of you have emailed me (and Paskal has linked in the comments).

Congratulations to the members of the Indian-born Shah family who are physicians making a world of difference to the folks in a medically under served community in Maryland along with other members of their family. There are stories like this all over America which don't get reported and the community of foreign physicians working in small towns, impoverished urban areas and many other locations in desperate need of doctors are true American heroes.

I counted 13 physicians in this family who have all moved to rural St. Mary's County, Maryland. Plus, they've recruited physician friends from India to join them as well. Said an elderly doctor struggling to recruit physicians to work in the community:

"It was just like miracle workers walked in," said Richard Martin, 92, who was then head of the hospital. "I told them, 'You are the answer to my prayers.' "

NFAP REPORT: FAILURE TO LIBERALIZE H-1B PROGRAM KILLING AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS

The National Foundation for American Policy has just issued a report that lays out the case for increasing H-1B numbers and not passing the numerous anti-competitive "reforms" that are being promoted by those opposed to skilled immigrants.

This report should be required reading by every member of Congress who seeks to vote on H-1B measures. I

Incidentally, I'm quoted on page 27 in a passage discussing a proposal to audit companies that use Level 1 wages in determining the appropriate salary for an H-1B worker.

[Update - Some of you are reporting problems getting to the report on the NFAP web site. Here it is for direct download.Download 071206study.pdf ]

December 06, 2007
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: MIKE MYERS - COMEDIC ACTOR

Well, since I made a Dr. Evil reference in the comments (here's to Roy, our resident punching bag, who did me the favor of finding the great clip in this post), why not make the brilliant Canadian comedic actor Mike Myers our immigrant of the day? Whether it's Wayne, Shrek, Linda Richman, Austin Powers, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard, or the Cat in the Hat, Myers' characters are now cultural icons. I was happy to see there are new Austin Powers and Shrek movies on the way.

Roy, with all those out of work and underworked American comics out there, I'm sure you're fuming that we're allowing in cheap foreign comedians

IMMIGRATION HUMOR

The usual warnings to move on to another post if you're easily offended....

free video hosting
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ALL-STAR PRO BONO LAWYER TEAM TO CHALLENGE ALLEGED ICE CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS

A team of lawyers from some of the San Francisco Bay area's top lawyers have teamed with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center to challenge Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over alleged constitutional violations in the manner raids have been conducted. The San Francisco NBC affiliate reports

Andrew Thomases said Dechert LLP, which represents Yahoo, and the other law firms would represent undocumented immigrants for free."We do have the resources to help all our clients," Thomases said.

"All individuals have constitutional rights, and we want to make sure the rights are not violated, and the government is not violating the Fourth or Fifth Amendment when doing searches and seizures."

Eight lawyers from the international firm are on the list of high-powered attorneys who will go to court against ICE, Thomases said.

Thomases said lawyers would specifically tackle violations such as entering an apartment without a warrant or pushing an immigrant to answer questions when he refuses to talk.

Thanks to reader USC for the tip.

THROWING FARMERS AND SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS "UNDER THE BUS"

The Tulsa World discusses how state legislators are having buyer's remorse when it comes to their passing one of the harshest immigration laws in the nation. It's sad that farmers and small business owners have gone from being revered as representing true Americana to being recast as greedy villains out to destroy our country.

December 05, 2007
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: SEBASTIAN THRUN - INVENTOR

Earlier this week I read the amazing story of the race to develop automobiles that drive themselves. In essence, we're talking about autopilot for cars. They steer, brake, change lanes, park themselves, etc. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (aka DARPA which, by the way, brought us the Internet) is sponsoring a competition to spur development of these vehicles which can really help mankind by saving lives by preventing accidents involving human error (which are most) and dramatically increasing the number of vehicles on the same roads (thus reducing urban sprawl). Plus, you can save a whole lot of stress each day if you didn't have to pay attention to traffic.

In 2005, German immigrant Sebastian Thrun led the Stanford University team in the creation of Stanley, an automated automobile that won his university the $2,000,000 prize. Stanley is a modified Volkswagon Taurag that managed to run through a 132 mile course in just over six hours without the benefit of a driver. Incidentally, Professor Thrun was on Popular Science's 2005 Brilliant Ten list. Very cool, Professor Thrun!

ROMNEY IMMIGRATION WOES CONTINUE

Man, karma can come back to haunt you...

FBI NAME CHECK DELAYS TARGETED IN LAW SUIT

Tuesday I reported on the good news that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security announced plans to expedite the processing of name check clearances. Today, the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center and other groups filed a law suit seeking the enforcement of a section of immigration law imposing a 120 day limit on name checks for naturalization applicants. This will surely keep up the pressure on DHS to keep its word. As Ronald Reagan said, "trust, but verify." It's good that DHS seems serious about speeding things up. But we've heard that many, many times before over the years.

LOU DOBBS IS AN AYATOLLAH?

These are the words of Thomas Friedman, the renown author of The World is Flat in his column in today's New York Times. Friedman's piece today is a tongue-in-cheek Iranian intelligence report that tells the story of US-Iranian relations from the other side's view point. Most has nothing to do with immigration, but I enjoyed this passage:

We have to note that obtaining open-source intelligence in America has become more difficult, because traditional news shows have become more comedic and more comedic news shows more authoritative.

For instance, CNN’s nightly business report is hosted by a man named “Dobbs.” Real journalists come on his show and present transparently propagandistic stories about immigration and trade and then he fulminates about them, much the way our ayatollahs used to do about “Satanic Americans” on late-night Iranian TV. So viewers have no real idea what’s happening in the U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, at 11 p.m., something called “The Daily Show,” which appears on Comedy Central, has fake journalists presenting what turns out to be the real news.

CHERTOFF: APPEALING "NO MATCH" RULE AFTER ALL

There has been an interesting development in the DHS "no match" saga involving the fight by DHS to implement a rule creating a "safe harbor" for employers who terminate employees who are the subject of letters from the Social Security Administration indicating employees whose social security numbers and names do not match in the SSA database. At the heart of the issue is whether an employer has constructive knowledge that an employee is unlawfully employed when they get one of these letters. If that is the case, then an employer could be liable for significant penalties. DHS has been reticent to draw this finding up until now, but under a rule issued last August that has been put on hold by a District Court in California, employers would be targeted and the one safe way to avoid targeting is if an employer notifies the employee of the letter, gives an employee 90 days to correct the problem and then terminates the employee if the problem is left uncorrected.

The rule has been attacked on two grounds. First, opponents of the rule are arguing that DHS did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act in terms of the way the rule was proposed and implemented. Second, there is concern that US citizens will be falsely identified as being a "no match." Opponents point to the fact that the SSA database is rife with errors and the SSA has a poor record when it comes to resolving these problems within 90 days.

Last month, the ACLU announced that DHS was abandoning the rule and would re-issue a new rule in December that would supposedly address the judge's concerns. Secretary Chertoff announced today that DHS is going that route but that it also was planning on requesting the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Judge Breyer's order suspending implementation of the "no match" rule. Presumably, the goal is to deal with the possibility that Judge Breyer will enjoin DHS from implementing the next version of the rule and then having to deal with the delay of waiting on an appeal of that future decision.

[UPDATE: Here are DHS' letter to the judge and the notice of appeal .