The other day I named Howard Bach, the Vietnamese-born badminton Olympian as my Immigrant of the Day. Today, I'm honoring Khan Bob Malaythong, his doubles partner. Malaythong is a Laotian native who came to the US when he was eight years old. He only naturalized in 2006 and it was the inability to naturalize in a timely manner that knocked the player Malaythong replaced out of contention for the Olympic team. Bach and Malaythong are the #1 ranked team in the United States and ranked in the top 20 internationally. Bach and Malaythong have the obvious goal of wanting a medal in Beijing, but they're also working hard to raise the profile of the sport of badminton in the US. They recently starred in a well-received commercial for the new Coca Cola product Vitamin Water. Malaythong will be on the David Letterman show next month.
Bob Malaythong has a great immigration story and he's one of the few athletes I've seen that recount their journey in any detail. Check out his personal account on his web site. Hi sister was the first in his family to come and she took a very dangerous trip to get here that almost resulted in her death. She was able to acquire legal status in the US and ten years later she was able to bring her younger brother to the US. Malaythong's family was desperately poor and you can see photos on Malaythong's web site showing him with a bulging stomach that is an ironic sign of malnourishment.
Remarkably, within two years of his arrival in the US, he won the junior national badminton title and has risen steadily to the top of the sport over the years. But unlike athletes in more popular sports who can earn lucrative salaries, Malaythong faced an ongoing struggle of how to financially assist his destitute family, most of whom were still in Laos without dropping out of his sport. And he faced the ongoing stress of being separated from siblings who he had not seen since leaving Laos as a youngster. In fact, it was only when he competed in Thailand in 2003 that he as able to see two of his sisters for the first time since they were separated in 1990.
Bob's story is the classic tale of how refugees coming from the worst conditions can achieve great heights when given a chance in a place like America. He proudly proclaims on his web site that he's the first Laotian American Olympican and I wish him luck in becoming the first Laotian American to win an Olympic medal.
Simply shameful. Regardless of how the typical America feels about the war in Iraq, most would agree that individuals who have served as translators, medics and in other jobs aiding the US armed forces in the country should be granted safe haven in the US given that they face a ruthless and quick execution if they are left unprotected. And it's not just them - their family members and even their neighbors face death if they are discovered.
Now we learn that despite the fact that Congress and the President passed legislation authorizing 25,000 interpreters and other Iraqis who have aided Coalition forces (12,500 per year for this year and a like number for next year), the State Department won't work a sizable portion of the applications. For this year, 5,000 applicants were authorized and the State Department only managed to process less than 1,000.
One is reminded of other shameful periods in our past when we abandoned people we promised to help. The rapid US departure from Vietnam in 1975 and the abandonment of many people who played a similar helping role in that past war, for example. Or in an earlier period, the deliberate foot-dragging by the State Department in issuing visas to qualified immigrants seeking to flee Nazi persecution in Europe. So many lost their lives in both cases.
As it grows more and more apparent that the US will be exiting Iraq in the not so distant future, the stakes are growing higher. Will the State Department let us down and allow for a massacre to take place? There is still time to address this looming humanitarian disaster. Let us hope that I am not blogging in the future about how many people died because of DOS' failure to carry out its mandate.
The House of Representatives passed the PEPFAR AIDS funding bill which includes a provision finally doing away with the HIV bar to admission. The margin was 303 to 115. The Senate has already passed this bill which means that all that stands in the way of ending the bar is the President's signature. The President is expected to sign the bill shortly.
Farmers in California are worried about the impact that a new executive order requiring businesses that contract with the federal government must use the E-Verify electronic employment verification system. The Sacramento Bee reports one group that is concerned is the state's association of 500 peach growers. Those farmers supply 80% of the nation's peaches and many of those peaches end up in the federal student lunch program for impoverished youngsters. Given estimates that 50 to 75% of farm workers are illegally in the US, there seems to be no way farmers across the board can participate in the E-Verify program and continue to operate in the short term. And that will likely mean that farmers will be forced to stop supplying food to those supplying the federal student lunch program. That in turn could mean the program won't be able to continue operating due to a lack of suppliers or that the federal program will be forced to import all of the food used in the program. Talk about your unintended consequences!
Australian-born Phillip Dutton has won two gold medals (1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney), but he is competing on the US team for the first time this year. He has trained in the US since 1991 and recently became a US citizen. Dutton lives with his wife and three children in Pennsylvania where he owns, manages and trains horses.
Dutton, at 44, is one of the oldest members of the US team. Which means I'm not really getting old since there are still Olympic athletes older than me. Good luck, Phillip.
It's not immigration, but I know a lot of immigration lawyers read this blog. I've been a judge for the last two years for the InnovAction Awards granted by the College of Law Practice Management. Law firms from around the world enter the competition each year and many of the entries are truly impressive. Here's the press release with descriptions of the award winners:
College of Law Practice Management 08 winners - Free Legal Forms
I've been reporting that Congress has just eliminated the law requiring HIV be on the list of medical conditions that automatically make someone inadmissible. And President Bush will likely sign the bill as early as this weekend. But the Department of Health and Human Services still has the discretion to keep HIV on the list and they must act to take it off. Immigration Equality reports on the next phase of efforts to eliminate the travel ban.
I have not written nearly as much about this case as others, but the blogosphere will no doubt be abuzz about the upholding of convictions against to Border Patrol agents convicted of assault and other charges relating to the shooting of a drug smuggler. My only comment is that there's a bit of irony here since the loudest voices calling for mercy - okay, amnesty - for the officers are the same who cite the need for law and order in other contexts - namely, dealing with immigration law violators. I'd suggest we consider what is humane, and good, practical policy here and in other contexts and not get lost in the jingoism and sound bytes.
This case, incidentally, has been Lou Dobbs' big cause. I'm sure he'll have some choice words to say tonight and "law and order" won't be three of them.
Wow.This is pretty serious stuff and could result in indictments. Monica Goodling, the DOJ liaison to the White House, appears to be in the greatest jeopardy, based on the DOJ report (see below), but others are in trouble as well including the former Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. The long and short of it is that the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the office responsible for the nation's immigration judges, is governed by the civil service regulations and have pretty strict rules on hiring:
It is the policy of the Department of Justice to seek to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status,
political affiliation, age, or physical or mental handicap in employment within the Department and to assure equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for
The DOJ obtained emails between DOJ political appointees which appear to show that party official was a litmus test for the hiring of immigration judges by EOIR and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals.House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers issued a tough press release also raising the possibility of pursuing perjury charges against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as well as Goodling related to testimony they gave in the spring which is contradicted in the DOJ report:
Today's report describes ‘systematic’ violations of federal law by several former leaders of the Department of Justice. Apparently, the political screening was so pervasive that even qualified Republican applicants were rejected from Department positions because they were ‘not Republican enough’ for Monica Goodling and others. The report also makes clear that the cost to our nation of these apparent crimes was severe, as qualified individuals were rejected for key positions in the fight against terrorism and other critical Department jobs for no reason other than political whim. The Report also indicates that Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and Alberto Gonzales may have lied to the Congress about these matters. I have directed my staff to closely review this matter and to consider whether a criminal referral for perjury is needed.
The Politico reports that the McCain camp is polling barely half what President Bush earned in 2004 and with Hispanics expected to turn out in larger numbers this year than any election in the past, this could spell disaster for the GOP. Why the drop in support? You guessed it.
The biggest reason for the shift, though, has been the heated debate over immigration reform that has alienated many Hispanic voters previously receptive to the GOP — and that nearly cost McCain, a co-sponsor of the bipartisan 2006 immigration reform bill that inflamed conservatives, his party’s nomination.
In the 2006 midterm election, exit polls showed Latino support for Democrats had increased by 16 percentage points from 2004, compared to a six-percentage-point increase among whites.
While McCain’s support of the immigration bill — which was eventually voted down — appealed to many Hispanics, it infuriated some conservatives. McCain, his campaign then floundering, promised primary voters that he had "got the message," vowed to prioritize enforcement and even claimed he wouldn’t have voted for his own bill it if was to have come up again.
The shift in tone placated conservatives while infuriating many Hispanics.
6'9" Phil Dalhauuser, a Swiss native, towers over most of his beach volleyball competitors. His partner Todd Rogers and he have been winning titles left and right over the past few years and Dalhausser is one of the most highly ranked players on the tour.
Here's a quick video of Dalhausser in action.
Watch Dobbs go nuts when he's challenged by Paul Waldman of Media Matters on his failure to air a single positive story on immigration.
South Korean-born Kayla Bashore is one of two foreign-born players on the US Olympic field hockey team. Bashore plays for Indiana University where she serves as the team's captain and helped lead her team to its most successful season ever. She's been on the US team since 2006 and Beijing is her first Olympics. She's no stranger to world competition and has competed in several World Cup matches. Good luck, Kayla.
And in case you're not that familiar with field hockey, here's some clips of the winning goals that got the US team qualified for a spot in the Olympics.
The major terms -
1. A five year extension of E-Verify
2. DHS and SSA must reach an agreement where DHS provides SSA with funds needed to execute SSA's responsibilities.
3. GAO to conduct studies on erroneous nonconfirmations and the impact of E-Verify on small business.
The bill will probably come up on the House floor today on a suspension vote.
If enforcement activity is increasing, why do we have fewer judges than two years ago, especially when the Justice Department promised to increase the numbers? A Syracuse University study found
In summary, TRAC's analysis found that there has been no actual increase in the number of funded Immigration Judge positions since the Attorney General's proposals were announced, although some temporary positions that were first funded in 2006 prior to the Attorney General's announcement were subsequently made permanent. In addition, the EOIR acknowledges that as of July 2008 there are eight fewer Immigration Judges employed than there were back in 2006 at the time the Attorney General announced his plan for increased staffing. One surprising reason the number of judges have declined is that as of July 5 the Justice Department had left 28 positions — 11% of the immigration bench — unfilled.
The net result is that as the total number of matters handled by the Immigration Courts has increased over the last decade, today's Immigration Judges have less time to handle a case received by the court than they did ten years ago.
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 email@example.com