Wow. Lofgren has done an admirable job keeping the anti-immigrants at bay during a very rough period in the nation's migration history. Now she is being tapped to chair one of the most important committees in Congress, according to this report in CQ Politics. So if this is true, Logren will presumably give up her seat as Chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee. Who will take over? There are some great choices including Sheila Jackson Lee who led the Democrats on the Subcommittee when they were in the minority. And don't forget Luis Gutierrez, one of the most vocal pro-immigrant members of Congress who has served on the Subcommittee for several years.
Well the new First Lady has turned another immigrant fashion designer in to an instant sensation. Tonight its 26 year old Jason Wu. Mrs. Obama is wearing a Jason Wu gown to ten Inaugural Balls this evening. The Taiwanese-born designer graduated from New York's Parson School of Design and opened up his own fashion house three years ago.
Two of the artists featured in the Inauguration ceremony were famed Israel-born violinist Itzhak Perlman, French-born Yo-Yo Ma and Venezuelan-born pianist Gabriela Montero who played a new John Williams piece along with clarinetist Anthony McGill. Millions of people will now remember the virtuoso for his participation in this wonderful contribution to the day.
In case you missed it, here is their performance.
There are many immigrants who played big and small roles in today's Inauguration ceremonies. One person's work will be noticed by millions, but will largely not be attributed. I'm talking about Cuban-born Isabel Toledo who designed the dress worn by the new First Lady. The designer worked in the fashion house of Anne Klein for twenty years before going out on her own. She's become a favorite of Mrs. Obama and we're likely to see her creativity in the years to come.
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the Lion of the Senate, had to be rushed to the hospital after having a seizure during the President's luncheon in the Capitol. As everyone knows, the Senator has been battling brain cancer for much of the past year. The Senator is also one of the best friends the pro-immigration community has in the Senate and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
Business Tennessee Magazine has included me on its list of the 150 best lawyers in the state. .
Senator Lindsay Graham, the South Carolina Republican, told NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell this hour that he will find Republicans like himself ready to partner with him on big issues including immigration reform. A good start.
WOAI, the NBC News affiliate in San Antonio, Texas recently reported on allegations of sexual assaults of detainees by guards at a privately owned immigrant detention facility in Pearson, Texas.
From the Associated Press:
Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were too harsh.
Rancor over their convictions, sentencing and firings has simmered ever since the shooting occurred in 2005.
I did not jump on the bandwagon of those demanding stiff sentences for Ramos and Compean because I just didn't think it was clear that the agents were acting with malicious intent. And so I will not criticize or praise the President for his actions. The jury made a judgment call and now the President has as well. I only hope that the case had the result of forcing the Border Patrol to look at its policies and training in order to reduce the likelihood that an unarmed person will be killed unnecessarily.
Hat tip a reader for sending this tip. Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology officer for Cisco (and Motorola before that) and Vivek Kundra, the CTO for the government of Washington, DC, are the leading candidates for the country's first Chief Technology Officer. Both candidates would bring superb experience to the Obama Administration.
Last August, I wrote about the horrible death of Hiu Liu Ng, a Hong Kong-born computer engineer who died in a privately-run Rhode Island detention center after he was denied medical treatment even though he was screaming in pain. Now ICE investigators have issued a report slamming the contractor and referring the matter to the US attorney in Boston for possible criminal prosecution. And they have cancelled the contract to house detainees at the facility. Hopefully, this will send a loud message to other privately run facilities around the country that there will be consequences for this sort of conduct.
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano had a relatively smooth confirmation hearing in the Senate this week. She did not offer a lot of specifics as far as her plans for the immigration system, though she did make it clear that major reform is a priority. She also indicated that she will not let up on the crackdown on employers around the country.
The death of two gentleman this week has me down.
One of my favorite writers, John Mortimer, died after a long illness at the age of 85. Mr. Mortimer was a successful and famous barrister in London before he embarked on a career as a novelist and screenwriter. He created the wonderful character Horace Rumple nearly 35 years ago. Rumpole, a lovable, irreverent and rotund elderly barrister who fights for justice even if the clients are most unpopular. As an immigration lawyer, I loved Rumpole and the Reign of Terror, Mortimer's second to last book. Rumpole takes on the defense of a Pakistani doctor accused of being linked to terrorists and facing deportation.
Many of you may remember the wonderful ITV television series Rumpole of the Bailey starring the great Australian actor Leo McKern who died in 2002.
The well-known Mexican-born actor Ricardo Montalban died this week at the age of 88. Montalban had a long career and was known to many generations for memorable stage, film and television roles. He'll long be remembered for his role as the title character in the film Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. And many in my generation will smile remembering Mr. Roarke, the suave man in the white suit who hosted B-list celebrity guests on Fantasy Island. My kids remember the actor for his role as the grandfather in the Spy Kids films.
Montalban played an important role in improving the lot of immigrant actors in Hollywood. He co-founded the Nosotros Foundation in 1970 which was an advocacy group for Latino actors in film and television.
This is a painful to watch clip. But it tells what is happening in Phoenix and many other cities better than 100 editorials.
Tim Geithner joins a long list of nominees over the last two decades who have seen their nominations jeopardized over having employed an illegally present immigrant. The most famous case involved President Clinton's first nomination for Attorney General, Zoe Baird. Ms. Baird's nomination was derailed after it was learned that she had hired an illegally present immigrant as a nanny to her children. Clinton's next nominee Kimba Wood had her nominationed scuttled over the same issue (except that unlike Baird, Wood paid taxes on her nanny's wages). The childless Janet Reno was the third choice, though coming from South Florida, I suppose the odds of her having employed a household worker with immigration problems might have been high as well.
A few months after the Wood and Baird debacles, Clinton nominated Judge Stephen Breyer for a US Supreme Court Justice seat and it was learned that he too had employed an illegally present immigrant in his household. But by this point, Congress was starting to figure out that if this was now the standard for holding high office, the pool of qualified candidates would shrink dramatically. So Breyer was confirmed.
The issue didn't pop up again until the Bush Administration's nomination of Linda Chavez to be the Secretary of Labor during his first term in office. Her nomination collapsed when it was learned she had an illegally present immigrant living in her home.
And there are several others where the issue has arisen. It does seem that one distinguishing point in teh various cases is whether the nominee would have any direct responsibility for administering immigration laws. At the time of the Baird and Wood nominations, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was in the Department of Justice, the department overseen by the Attorney General. And Chavez probably faced more problems because the Labor Department plays an important role in employment-based immigrant visa processing.
And that is why I think Geithner will be able to get past the nanny question. Were we talking about DHS Secretary, I think the story might be different.
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