Congrats to Anh Cao who I wrote about yesterday in my Immigrant of the Day column. He is set to become the first Vietnamese-American ever elected to Congress. He's also likely to be one of the most pro-immigration Republicans in Congress. Given the make up of the district and the enormous advantage a scandal-free Democrat will have in 2010, I'm wondering whether Cao will remain a Republican. He's run previously as an independent. If I were Nancy Pelosi, I'd invite Congressman Cao out to lunch.
About 14 months ago I wrote about Catalino Tapia, a San Francisco Bay Area gardener who was raising thousands of dollars to send local Hispanic kids to college. Mr. Tapia's work has gotten some big recognition of late. He's just been awarded a $100,000 National Purpose Prize to support his good work. Congratulations, Mr. Tapia.
The Dallas Morning News discusses the site www.wehirealiens.com which allows people to anonymously post the names of companies it suspects of hiring unlawfully present immigrants. The site's owner claims no responsibility for the accuracy of the posts and damaged companies are up in arms. I understand the 1st Amendment arguments, but I also know that a lot of people equate being Hispanic with being an illegal immigrant and just assume that any worker with an accent is undocumented. Even the title of the web site seems to show the site's owners don't really distinguish between legally present and illegally present workers - they're all suspect. What do you think?
By the way, my friend Dan Kowalski has a good quote in the story.
It's now definitely on life-support - at least for a few more months. Judge Breyer announced today that he is denying the Bush Administration's request to expedite reviewing whether the recently issued revised social security no-match regulation satisfies the judge's objections and will convince him to lift the injunction barring DHS from implementing the massive enforcement program. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Instead, Breyer set a standard schedule for consideration of a lawsuit by labor unions and business groups challenging the rule, with written arguments planned through Feb. 24. He observed that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama might want to take another look at the issue, said Scott Kronland, lawyer for the AFL-CIO and several other unions in the case.
"There was no policy reason for trying to expedite things to prevent a new administration from looking at these last-minute rules," Kronland said.
So the ball is now in President-elect Obama's court. What a President Obama will do is far from clear at this point.
The Department of Defense is dropping its requirement that physicians and nurses must have green cards in response to persistent shortages in those fields. The MDs and RNs who sign on will be able to fast-track toward citizenship.
The ailing Senator is quitting the Judiciary Committee and its subcommittees and is planning on focusing on getting major health care reform passed. The Lion of the Senate's leadership on immigration issues will be missed.
While this question was not addressed in the recently issued R-1 regulation, USCIS has just notified some of the stakeholder organizations that a worker who holds a valid R-1 issued before November 26th may travel on that visa for the duration of the visa. The regulation is NOT retroactive. USCIS has indicated that CBP will be issuing instructions to the ports of entry along these lines. USCIS will also be updating its FAQ document to reflect this.
There's a very interesting election in New Orleans tomorrow. Louisiana's unusual runoff rules mean that the final congressional election in the Crescent City is actually a month later than the rest of the country. The Democrat in the race is Congressman William Jefferson who has been indicted for corruption (which includes the allegation that he stuffed $90,000 from his bribes in his freezer). The Republican is Vietnamese-born Anh "Joseph" Cao, a former philosophy professor at Loyola University who has worked for the last few years as an immigration lawyer.
Cao describes himself as a moderate Republican and when I heard him interviewed on the radio today, he made it clear that he supports immigration reform including legalizing the massive unlawfully present immigrant population. He's exactly the kind of candidate Republicans need to be fielding around the country if the GOP hopes to dig itself out of the hole in which it finds itself.
Cao would normally have no chance at winning this heavily Democratic district. But because of his opponent's serious legal problems, some of the pundits are saying he's got a decent chance. He also won the endorsement of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the city's daily newspaper.
Good luck Mr. Cao.
Seems like we've seen this basic story many times over the years. Keith Olbermann makes Lorraine Henderson the Worst Person in the World - quite the honor.
Now some of my pro-immigration cohorts may be upset with me for saying this - but I think the Center for Immigration Studies is right about something important. We know from various government and other reports that the number of unlawfully present immigrants in this country has been rapidly declining over the last year or so. Pro-immigration groups are blaming the recession. CIS and other anti-immigration groups are saying that the ramped up enforcement at the border and at work sites around the country explain the decline.
I agree with CIS. Yes, it's true that the economic decline is likely causing somewhat of a drop in demand for the services of immigrant workers. But the pro-immigrant groups argument assumes that the economic situation in Mexico and other countries sending immigrants to the US has not been affected by the global recession as well.
I think enforcement is having an impact. No one really knows exactly how fast the number of unlawfully present immigrants has dropped, but both the pro-immigration and anti-immigration community seem to agree that it is happening. They're just fighting over the "why" part. The Center for Immigration Studies estimated that the decline has been in the double digits just this year.The Pew folks have the number dropping by 500,000. Yesterday, according to US News and World Report, Secretary Chertoff was bragging about DHS' enforcement accomplishments:
Just within the past week, the number of Border Patrol agents serving in the department topped 18,000, Chertoff said. That's more than double the 9,000 agents on duty when President Bush took office in 2000. In addition, Chertoff said that the Bush administration will leave office having completed about 90 percent of the planned border fencing project along sections of the 700-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
But I think this is actually very good news for the pro-immigration community. A lot of the people who voted no on comprehensive immigration reform when it came up in 2006 and 2007 said that we needed to actually enforce our laws vigorously before turning our attention to the large unlawfully present population in this country. The people in the "enforcement first" camp say they are pro-immigration, but want real evidence that we're making every effort to secure the borders and go after employers violating the law.
The enforcement first folks are really in the middle in the immigration debate. On one side you have the "comprehensive reform" advocates that believe you needed to have legalization and a guest worker program simultaneously rolled out with a vigorous enforcement program. You can only solve our problems by addressing everything together rather than in a piecemeal fashion. And, of course, there has been the anti-immigration camp that believe that we should enforce immigration laws and then stop at that because we have too much immigration. They also believe that all of the unlawfully present immigrants should be forced to go home or make life so miserable for them that they leave on their own.
Because they're in the middle, the enforcement first members of Congress are really the swing voters on an immigration reform package. It is now possible to make the case to these persuadable legislators that they got what they asked for in 2006 and 2007 and they can now tell their constituents that they delivered - we have largely gained control over illegal immigration and it's time to turn to the next chapter in solving our immigration problems. The pro-immigration community that tries to say that immigration numbers are tied strictly to the state of the economy and enforcement has no impact are not helping matters, in my opinion. If that's true, why have immigration enforcement as part of a comprehensive plan at all?
In short, it's time for the pro-immigration community to stop using the term "comprehensive immigration reform." Instead, refer to "phased" immigration reform. And Phase 1 - enforcing our current laws and gaining control over the border - has succeeded. Now it's time for Phase 2 - implementing a legalization program and addressing problems in the legal immigration system.
Jock Scharfen is departing as USCIS' Acting Director just six months after taking the position. Now USCIS, ICE and the AAO are all leaderless.
Not every immigrant of the day needs to be famous. Some will likely find fame later on, like 18 year old Ramon Sampson, a recent immigrant from South Africa to my home town of Memphis. Ramon was recently profiled in the Memphis Commercial Appeal for his fabulous drumming skills. You can listen for yourself below:
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