Canadian-born Professor Cassian Yee makes news today as media outlets report on an exciting medical breakthrough led by Yee at the University of Washington in Seattle. A patient with a diagnosis of just a year to live due to melanoma has made a complete recovery thanks to responding to the injection of his own immune cells. This is exciting and since my father has had melanoma, I'm very familiar with just how big this news is. Melanoma kills a great many, particularly those diagnosed too late. Congrats Professor Yee!
My friend Tom Roach dispels some of the more common myths surrounding immigration law. Go get em' Tom!
Talk about our country lucking out. Lukasz Zbylut arrived only five years ago from his native Poland as a seventh grader who didn't speak any English. The Brooklyn teen was featured on the Today Show because he did something quite remarkable. He applied to seven Ivy League schools for college and was admitted to all seven. Which school landed Lukasz? Harvard.
Good luck Lukasz!
Hat tip to reader Nelson for telling me about Lukasz.
The hottest band on the planet is arguably Coldplay. The four Brits - Chris Martin, Jonny Bucklan, Guy Berryman and Will Champion have just released their latest CD, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, and on June 23rd will kick off a big tour of the US. They'll start in New York City and include a live concert on the Today Show.
Coldplay had a major hit a few years back with the song Clocks which one Song of the Year at the Grammys, one of the first songs my kids requested I download for their MP3 players.
Here's there new hit song Vida la Vida from the new CD.
While the US continues policies that punish Indians for being TOO successful in producing talented individuals seeking to work abroad, the UK is issuing new rules designed to attract those same individuals. We're being left in the dust, folks.
Thanks to Dan Kowalski for the tip.
As many of you know who have been following this issue here, I have been very concerned that US citizen and permanent resident employees could find themselves unjustly facing unemployment if DHS follows through on their pledge to issue final non-confirmations in E-Verify cases in ten days. Employers who receive a final non-confirmation letter are required to terminate the employee who is the subject of the inquiry.
I have suggested that DHS not require the termination of an employee if a worker is still trying to resolve the issue after ten days. The agency addressed this issue in a June 16, 2008 written response to a series of questions posed by American Immigration Lawyers Association member Josie Gonzalez (posted on AILA Infonet) including this one:
Gonzalez: We further recommend that you work with DHS to resolve tentative non-confirmations when the employee contests the discrepancy and the problem is not resolved within the 8 days allotted, through no fault of the employee.
DHS: Over 99% of DHS tentative nonconfirmations are addressed on the same day that the employee contacts DHS to contest. If a case is not resolved within the 8 days allotted, the case in put into continuance and the employer is directed to take no action against the employee until the matter is resolved.
Gonzalez: Item number 6 in Section C of the MOU [the E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding employers sign] states that the employer must notify DHS if it continues to employ an alien after receiving a final non-confirmation; it provides for civil money penalties for failure to do so, and concludes: “The Department of Homeland Security reserves the right to conduct Form I-9 compliance inspections during the course of E-Verify, as well as to conduct any other enforcement activity authorized by law.”
Please clarify how this would be handled. Is this information shared with ICE for the purpose of triggering enforcement activities?
DHS: USCIS and ICE are currently working on finalizing a MOA for purposes of establishing a referral process. Currently, information requests from ICE for E-Verify related data are handled on an ad hoc basis. Form I-9 compliance inspections are handled by ICE Worksite Enforcement.
2. Gonzalez: Generally, the reason an employer would continue to employ an individual after receipt of a final non-confirmation is an inability to resolve the discrepancy within the allotted time frame, and a belief that the employee has the right to work.
To accommodate the employer in such a situation, we recommend a system for necessary
extensions of time in limited increments in order to accommodate a resolution of the confirmation process. A threat of DHS enforcement rather than interim provisions for difficult resolutions deters employers from participation.
DHS: The E-Verify system currently grants extensions in situations where an individual’s work authorization status could not be determined in the allotted time frame. The status verification unit will place the case in a “Case in Continuance” status, and the employer will be informed when more time is needed and that no adverse actions should be taken against the employee during this time.
While this is encouraging, it still does not provide the assurance that DHS will be REQUIRED to withhold a final non-confirmation while a matter is in dispute. In other words, DHS holds all the cards here and employers and employees must rely on them to exercise their discretion. In addition to providing a process like Ms. Gonzalez suggests, I would suggest creating an appeals process where an independent review could be sought. And the employee should be permitted to work until the matter is resolved and be reimbursed for reasonable legal fees is the worker is ultimately successful. As I've said before, an illegally present worker is not going to risk the exposure that would come with fighting DHS on a non-confirmation. If DHS is serious that it does not want to harm American workers, they should be willing to accept such protections.
A few months back I wrote about a new movie that was getting rave reviews called "The Visitor." It just came to Memphis and I had the chance to see it this evening. The movie was an incredibly poignant, beautifully filmed story about immigrants in New York. One of the major parts is played by Hiam Abbass, an Israeli Arab actress who plays a Syrian immigrant in the film. I hope the Academy Awards remember the brilliant performance of Ms. Abbass and the fine work of the other actors as well (I'll try and include them in later posts). The film itself is deserving of greater recognition and I suspect that given the outstanding reviews it's getting, it will eventually reach a wider audience.
Here's a trailer from the movie. If you haven't seen it, you're missing a great film.
Not everyone deserves a shot at remaining in the US. PARTICULARLY Nazis. Some people might be surprised that we are still trying to deport World War II Nazi war criminals who have had decades of due process. I gave a lecture almost a decade ago about John Demjanjuk, a concentration camp guard who was in the process of being deported. Just a few weeks ago, the US Supreme Court finally slammed the door on his attempts to remain in the US.
The process is unbelievably long. First, the person needs to de-naturalized. The people in question all lied about their past in order to enter the US. Eventually they became US citizens and this is when the Department of Justice must prove that the person fraudulently entered the US because they really did engage in genocide and lied about it when entering the country.
Once the person is stripped of citizenship, they are then put in deportation proceedings. This can take additional years.
Finally, the US has to find a country willing to accept the person. And in the last few years, Germany and other countries that engaged in atrocities have refused to accept them.
Congress is stepping in to sanction Germany and other countries that refuse to take back these war criminals. The sanction of choice - removing the country from the Visa Waiver program. Gordon Smith has introduced the World War II War Crimes Accountability Act of 2008 in the Senate. Similar legislation is in the works in the House, according to my sources.
The threat of sanctions may be working. Just yesterday, Germany announced it is interested in putting Demjanjuk on trial.
It's time to close this chapter. Hopefully, Germany is serious and will indeed honor its promise to provide justice to the millions of victims and their surviving relatives.
The lawsuit was filed by environmentalist groups. Not a shock given the court's general environmental record
A lot of people may not realize that one of the country's most popular political commentators, British-born Andrew Sullivan, is HIV positive. You may know Andrew from his wildly popular Daily Dish blog, his regular op-ed contributions to the Washington Post and the Times of London and his regular appearances on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, CNN and the Chris Matthews Show.
Today on his blog, Andrew discusses his fears of being forced to leave his country of 25 years because a waiver allowing the admission of HIV positive individuals is set to expire in a few months. Congress needs to deal with this and soon. Write to your members of Congress to tell them to permanently extend the waiver.
The NY Times reports on a long American tradition of sending newly naturalized citizens to compete for the country. Nine immigrant athletes are set to be naturalized in time to compete in Beijing.
Representative Chris Cannon, a good friend of America's immigrants was ousted by a vocal anti-immigration former kicker for Brigham Young University. Guess the opponent got his revenge for being passed up for the NFL by all of those foreign players. Seriously, though, this is a sad day and the GOP's prime example of a Congressman with tolerance is out the door as the party's congressional ranks drift further to extremism.
We're honored, Lou. (hat tip to Dan Kowalski for the link)
I'm at the annual meeting of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Vancouver this week so blogging is a little lighter than usual. The hot topic here is the Fragomen labor certification audit and a number of Department of Labor officials have been on the hot seat (deservedly so).
The Fragomen firm has just released its first public response explaining why DOL's action is wrong and how it intends to go forward. I agree wholeheartedly that the firm (and its clients) have been subjected to outrageously unfair treatment and I wish them well in getting a speedy and positive resolution.
One of Britain's weirder celebrities is denied entry to the US. When I first saw the headlines on this, I assumed there was a drug issue. But the denial stems from pending charges relating to George's alleged false imprisonment of a 28 year old man in the UK.
The immigration bar lost one of its legends today. Steve Fischel, an immigration lawyer who spent most of his career in senior positions at the State Department, died here in Vancouver where nearly 3,000 of his fellow lawyers and many of his best friends were attending the annual meeting of the American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting.
Steve's distinguished career is described in his bio on his web site. Most people remember Steve as someone who always put the interests of the American people first, but also a person who had genuine compassion and one who even the most junior immigration lawyers were not afraid to approach since he was always willing to listen to our concerns. When he decided after more than three decades at the State Department to join the ranks of the immigration bar, he was welcomed with open arms.
Friends of Steve will remember him as a gregarious, humorous man who loved people (and his Washington Capitols hockey team). I was fortunate to get to know Steve in the last year and count myself in the ranks of those who are devastated by his loss. He will be fondly remembered. Rest in peace, Steve.
Russian native Nastia Liukin is one of America's best hopes for winning a medal in gymnastics at the Beijing Olympics. Nastia has won world titles on the balance beam and uneven paralel bars and is a leading contender for an all-around medal. The Texas athlete is the daughter of two Olympic champions, by the way.
The LA Times says not so far apart. But it might depend on exactly how McCain's position is defined. The anti-McCain video below gives a flavor of how the opponents of the Arizona Senator are trying to shape the issue.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association honored my friend Margaret Stock this weekend with the Michael Maggio Pro Bono Award. Margaret has led the creation of a wonderful pro bono program at AILA that helps American soldiers facing immigration problems. The AILA Military Assistance Program has taken off over the last few months thanks to Margaret's tireless efforts. I'm proud to be a volunteer in the program and encourage my fellow immigration lawyers to participate as well. Way to go, Margaret!
Canadian model Tricia Helfer made the successful leap into the acting world playing robot Number Six on the acclaimed television series Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi Channel. Helfer has been named to assorted most beautiful list including being named #8 in FHM Magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the world list for 2008.
A friend reminded me of a Senate hearing witness from a few years back who was called to testify about his immigrant experience. Romanian-born Ovidie Colea fled oppression 50 years ago and went on to create a very unique business. He is the largest producer of Statue of Liberty replicas in America. The New York Times wrote about Mr. Colea's unique story a while back, as did Ancestry.com and his web site tells more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org