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

Bloggings: January 17, 2008

by Greg Siskind

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

January 16, 2008

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: DAPHNE RUBIN-VEGA - SINGER/ACTRESS

Daphne Rent, one of my favorite Broadway shows, will close on June 1st, after a twelve year run. It will end its run as the seventh longest running show in Broadway history, no small feat.  So with Rent on the mind, it's fitting that Daphne Rubin-Vega be our immigrant of the day. The Panamanian-born Ms. Rubin-Vega starred as Mimi in the original cast of the hit show. I have the CD of the original show and my kids listen to it all the time.  Ms. Rubin-Vega's distinctive vocals are one of the highlights of the show. While most of the original Broadway cast starred in the film version a few years ago, Ms. Rubin-Vega was pregnant and was the only leading cast member to miss being in the film. Ms. Rubin-Vega has had a busy career in the years since. She often performs in concerts and is also regularly acting. In 2006, Ms. Rubin-Vega starred as Fantine in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables and last year she co-starred with Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman in the play Jack Goes Boating.

JUDGE IS NOW CONSIDERING SUBSTANTIVE QUESTIONS REGARDING ARIZONA EMPLOYER LAW

Last month, anti-immigration groups cheered that a judge refused to block the new business license/E-Verify law from going in to effect in Arizona. However, the ruling only dealt with procedural issues and the judge did not make a determination on the substantive questions surrounding the new law. Now Judge Wake is asking questions and it is far from clear that the bill's supporters will have sufficient answers. In particular, the judge is focusing on an employer's ability to appeal a decision, particularly when an employer can prove E-Verify is not accurate and an employee is, in fact, a permanent resident or a citizen. Remember, the recent Westat report showed that nearly 10% of naturalized US citizens in the country show up in E-Verify as being unlawfully present in the US. So there is more than just a slight chance there will be false positives. There will be many.

Arizona can probably fix this law to deal with the due process concerns and that would be the appropriate response (as opposed to attacking the lawyers who have raised these issues - the response that we're starting to now see).

January 15, 2008
IV'S UNVEILS BANNER AD FOR LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN

Click the ad to get to the campaign page.

By the way, some have expressed concern that participating in the campaign could somehow jeopardize your green card application. That is absolutely NOT the case and you should not fear exercising your free speech.

January 14, 2008
IMMIGRATION VOICE LAUNCHES ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES CAMPAIGN

With Congress paralyzed when it comes to making needed reforms to the legal immigration system, Immigration Voice has not given up. The grassroots organization is taking its fight to the White House and pushing for the Bush Administration to make changes to the immigration system that do not require the consent of Congress. IV is hoping for the following fixes.

• Recapture administratively the unused visas for permanent residency to fulfill the congressional mandate of 140,000 green cards per year.

• Revise the administrative definition of “same or similar” to allow slight additional job flexibility for legal immigrants awaiting adjudication of adjustment of status (I-485) petitions.

• Allow filing of Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) when a visa number is not available.

• Implement the existing interim rule to allow issuance of multi-year Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) and Advance Parole.

• Allow visa revalidation in the United States.

• Reinstate premium processing of Immigrant Petitions.

IV's plan involves pushing members of Congress to pressure the Administration and to also have employers and immigrants advocate directly. Sample letters and talking points are provided by IV. Good luck folks!

PASS THE MICROPHONE TO THE PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE

Here's a nicely written opinion piece from ground zero in the immigration debate - Arizona.

WHO'S GONNA BUILD YOUR WALL?

Tom Russell's song has been out for a year or so, but I've just seen it. Folk music is still alive in America. Enjoy.

January 13, 2008
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: GLENDA BAILEY - FASHION EDITOR

Glenda British-born fashion editor Glenda Bailey has a new fashion accessory - a medal signifying her being named by Queen Elizabeth as part of the Queen's New Year Honours List. Glenda Bailey OBE is the editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar magazine. She came to New York twelve years ago to oversee the US edition of Marie Claire, the magazine she started in the United Kingdom twenty years ago. She took over at Harper's in 2001. Ms. Bailey has received several Magazine Editor of the Year awards as well as Magazine of the Year awards for the magazines she created.

January 12, 2008
USCIS TO HIRE BACK 700 RETIRED WORKERS TO PROCESS CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION

Good news. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) suggested this plan a few months back. Nice to see USCIS can accept a good suggestion.

January 11, 2008
DEPORT PEARCE?

The State Representative in Arizona who brought us that state's business license law is separately promoting a proposal that would deny regular birth certificates to babies whose parents are unauthorized immigrants. According to the Arizona Republic, Pearce believes the measure would mean the children would not gain US citizenship and could be denied any benefits of being a citizen. Pearce apparently knows what he is doing is considered illegal by the courts:

Pearce acknowledged courts have ruled the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed in the wake of the Civil War to provide equal protection under the law, guarantees citizenship to anyone born in this country.

So the measure would violate the US Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment. Doesn't that make Representative Pearce a law breaker. He did presumably swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and he is now conspiring to pass legislation mandating that Arizona hospitals violate the Constitution as well. And we need to rid the country of people who flout our laws, don't we? After all, that's the entire point the antis make every day.

I say to Representative Pearce, if you want to make law, do it the legal way. Get in line. Have Congress and 3/4 of the states pass an amendment barring birthright citizenship. Passing an illegal law is giving an unfair advantage to you over all those legislators around the country trying to change the Constitution the legal way.

Isn't it time to permanently exile Representative Pearce? </sarcasm off>

January 10, 2008
IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: CELINE DION - SINGER

OK, I'm continuing with my Las Vegas theme given my return from CES. Quebec-born Celine Dion changed Las Vegas with her recently concluded four year gig at Caesar's Forum. The show played in a 4000 seat theater and grossed in the nine figures.

Ms. Dion began her career nearly two decades ago and she became a household name back in 1992 with her duet with Peabo Bryson in the title song from the hit Disney film Beauty and the Beast. She won the Academy Award for the performance. She's had a string of hits over the years including the monster hit theme from the film Titanic.

Dion, one of the most successful recording artists alive today, is out with her first studio album in five years and is about to launch a one year international concert tour.

TRAVEL INDUSTRY PUSHES TO GET INTERNATIONAL TOURIST ISSUES IN TO PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

Let's hope they're successful in their new campaign. The TIA also released findings of a poll of voters in the upcoming primary states of South Carolina and Florida. From the Travel Industry Association:

"We've hit a tipping point," said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the TIA.  "Voters believe that government can do far more to improve the travel system and they are looking for a candidate who realizes that they too have a schedule to keep."

The first stop on the "Change the Debate" campaign is South Carolina where billboards are running in Myrtle Beach and Columbia and travel industry leaders are on the ground for tonight's Republican debate to discuss the critical contribution travel makes to the U.S. economy.  Looking ahead, TIA will be working with more than 400 convention and visitor bureaus across the country to highlight an American travel system that is in crisis and in need of national leadership. 

"Outdated tracking systems, delays and congestion combined with a 17 percent decline in overseas visitation to the United States since 9/11 have taken their toll on the American traveler, the economy and the U.S. image abroad," Dow said. "We're taking our campaign on the road to make sure the candidates know that improving the travel process is both good policy and good politics."

WILL MCCAIN IMMIGRATION VIEWS HELP HIM WIN FLORIDA?

Rudy Guiliani is banking everything on winning Florida. He's hoping all the ex-New Yorkers living in the Sunshine State will deliver him a win that will help get him back to the top of the heap.

But is Florida the state that will instead seal the deal for McCain? There's one place in America where being pro-immigration plays VERY well with Republican voters. And that's my home town of Miami, Florida where the anti-Castro Cuban community members have been reliable supporters of the GOP for decades. McCain's support for comprehensive immigration reform will help more than hurt with many Republicans in Florida. And those New Yorkers in South Florida are mostly Democrats (remember why Al Gore wanted each and every vote in South Florida to be counted?) so Guiliani may be on shaky ground if that's what he's hoping will save his campaign.

Of course, the further north you go in Florida, the more Southern it gets and Governor Huckabee will likely find support. And in the northern and central parts of Florida, the anti-immigration rhetoric will play better. 

And speaking of South Florida, Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheim has the same take on the meaning of the New Hampshire primary as I mentioned the other day. And the Daily Kos, the liberal blog, also has a similar view.

"THE SINGLE MOST DESTRUCTIVE ECONOMIC DISASTER SINCE THE DUST BOWL"

House bill 1804, Oklahoma's tough new anti-immigration law, is having the intended effect of driving immigrants from the state. But a lot of folks are concerned about its unintended effects on the Oklahoma economy.

NEBRASKA LEGISLATOR TARGETS TAX BREAKS FOR BUSINESSES HIRING UNAUTHORIZED IMMIGRANTS

This is sure to be a boon to Nebraska's efforts to lure new employers through tax breaks.

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: SIR HOWARD STRINGER - SONY CEO

Stringer I'm just back from Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show (took the red eye flight which lived up to its name and has left me very tired). In honor of CES, I am including Welsh-born Sir Howard Stringer as our immigrant of the day. Sir Howard has been an American citizen since the mid-80s and has the distinction of being the first non-Japanese CEO of a Japanese electronics company. In this case, it's Sony corporation, one of the planet's most important entertainment and electronics firms. Prior to heading up Sony, Sir Howard headed the CBS television network. Oh yeah, this Oxford University grad was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1999 - not too shabby.

Sony's booth at CES was, as always, a big hit with attendees. When I stopped by magician/comedians Penn and Teller were entertaining the crowd. The new VAIO TZ laptop is AWESOME (it should be at $3500) and I'm definitely getting one just as soon as I can justify replacing my current VAIO to my law partners.