If you used a cell phone today or listened to a CD, you probably have Alfred Cho to thank. The Chinese-born Cho was recently inducted in to the Inventors Hall of Fame which described his work as follows:
Because molecular beam epitaxy can produce compounds that do not exist in nature, it is used for research purposes as well, and as a real-world demonstration of quantum physics to university students worldwide.
Cho was born in Beijing, China and earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from the University of Illinois. His early work was for Ion Physics Corp. and TRW Space Technology Labs. He joined Bell Laboratories after completing his Ph.D. in 1968, where he ultimately became Vice President of Semiconductor Research for Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs. He is the recipient of many awards, including the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology.
April 06, 2009
Well, it's the DHS equivalent. This story is SPECTACULAR!
Jim Slaughter, an officer with DHS' Customs and Border Protection (he works at the San Luis, Arizona border station), has sued DHS' Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a raid on his home. Here's the story from KSWT, the CBS television affiliate in Yuma, Arizona:
A Customs and Border Protection officer says the Department of Homeland Security violated his constitutional rights. Jim Slaughter and his wife Sheila were doing laundry last July when, they say, a group of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up on their doorstep looking for a fugitive.
"My wife said is this candid camera and that kind of ticked him off a little bit and he says no mam you need to step back," says Jim. The couple claims they were ordered to stand in the middle of their living room as agents were about to search their home.
"I said do you realize i'm a U.S. Customs K-9 officer at San Luis, Arizona and they all just froze. The lead agent, his eyes got real big, and he's like what? You are?" In fact Jim has worked for CBP for seven years. He says the agents immediately retreated.
In March, Jim's attorney filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security citing a violation of the fourth ammendment for protection against unreasonable searches.
OK, just to be serious for a moment. Doesn't this story really tell you how out of control the raids have gotten?
That's an apt comparison. And for those not familiar with this guy, trust me, this is no compliment. By the way, for those Arpaio fans who will probably post something obnoxious in the comments, Connor had people who made identical arguments about African-Americans violated segregation laws. Mayor Phil Gordon is worried that Arpaio is ruining the state's reputation. The fear is certainly justified.
In a separate development that made me laugh, Sheriff Joe is calling the House hearing on Arpaio's activities a "witch hunt" that is just a "publicity stunt." Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? Google "Arpaio publicity stunt" and you'll get more than 4,200 hits. The man depends on publicity like it is oxygen.
April 04, 2009
This is actually encouraging news if you support the H-1B program. Actually, headlines like this are the protectionists' worst nightmare. The antis argue that H-1B workers are paid less than their American counterparts. But they really aren't interested in the foreign workers being paid more. They don't want them here at all no matter what they're being paid. You never hear them arguing for more enforcement of existing laws and that's because that would undermine their goal of barring all foreign workers regardless of what they're paid. Trust me - the government going after bad actors like the company that was the subject of this enforcement action does NOT make the restrictionists happy.
It may leave your head scratching, but many of the Programmers Guild whiners will try to convince you that they're actually the free traders. It reminds me of the brainwashing in Orwell's 1984 - "war is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength". That last one is particularly appropriate since these are the folks who are trying to keep out bright people from around the world they see as competition.
Actually, the only evidence they cite is an email exchange from several years ago with the economist Milton Friedman where he calls the H-1B visa a subsidy. Of course, Friedman is dead, he never actually wrote about the subject (answering a question by email doesn't count) and even if we assume he spent more than a nanosecond thinking about the H-1B visa, one can argue that he assumed that H-1B workers are paid less than the going wage rates, something that is barred by law. Incidentally, just ofr the sake of argument, even if H-1B workers were paid a lower rate, the existence of a quota on H-1Bs actually would have a trade distorting effect since companies that are lucky enough to get an H-1B visa in the annual lottery is better off than the one that doesn't. Scrap the cap and the issue goes away. More importantly, there has yet to be any serious piece of scholarship by an economist in this country making the case that H-1Bs actually are anti-competitive.
Of course, the best evidence that restricting H-1Bs (and L-1s) would be protectionist is the fact that the visas are specifically covered in the US' signing in 1994 of the General Agreement on Trade and Services, a key international trade agreement. The US is barred by our treaty obligation from cutting the number of H-1Bs to less than 65,000 or imposing any cap on L-1 visas.
We've already seen worrying signs of protectionism in recent legislation,. The "Buy American" language in the stimulus bill got the attention of the rest of the world and the H-1B restrictions on TARP recipients also is making our major trading partners wonder about the country's commitment to free trade. The Economist noted this fear in a recent article.
Fortunately, the White House seems to get it. The President has been emphasizing the need for the world's leading economic powers to work together to solve the economic crisis rather then each country launching trade warfare against the others. I also was pleased to see Labor Secretary Hilda Solis tell a BBC television interviewer yesterday that while she would work to preserve jobs for American workers, the President has instructed her to make sure that the US honors its trade agreements.
John Atalla is one of the inventors of the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), the most widely employed type of integrated circuit.
Born in Port Said, Egypt, Atalla came to the United States for graduate studies at Purdue University. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1949, he joined Bell Laboratories to investigate the surface properties of silicon semiconductors. By adopting a method of growing a layer of silicon dioxide on top of a silicon wafer, Atalla was able to overcome the surface states that prevented electricity from reaching the semiconducting layer. This is known as surface passivation, a critical step that made possible the ubiquity of silicon integrated circuits.
Atalla then suggested that a field effect transistor – first envisioned in the 1920s and confirmed experimentally in the 1940s but not yet achieved -- be built of metal-oxide-silicon. Atalla assigned the task to Dawon Kahng, a scientist in his group. Attalla and Kahng announced their successful MOSFET at a 1960 conference.
In addition to Bell Labs, Atalla also worked for Hewlett-Packard and Fairchild Semiconductor. He later developed the data security system that is used in most automated banking machines. He has founded several companies, including Atalla Corp., A4 Systems, and TriStrata.
Every time you start to buy in to the protectionist nonsense espoused by the anti-H-1B crowd, remember these kinds of statistics. 25% of all of the jobs in Silicon Valley are at companies started by immigrants. 47% of scientists and engineers in the US with Ph.D.s are immigrants. 25% of US patents are going to immigrant applicants. And so it's no surprise that immigrants are disproportionately represented in this year's class of inductees in to the Inventors Hall of Fame. Five of the seven are still living including Lifetime Achievement Award winner Andy Grove, founder of Intel. Grove was a previous recipient of Immigrant of the Day. The others will be be included this week.
In honor of the New York Yankees move in to the new Yankees Stadium, today I honor Taiwanese-born Yankees' starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. Since becoming a Yankee, Wang has become a national hero in Taiwan and all of his games are televised in his native land. Time Magazine listed him in 2007 as one of its 100 People Who Shape Our World for the the impact he's having on knocking down cultural barriers in this country.
April 03, 2009
John McCain, upset that Hispanics didn't vote for him in large numbers, is telling immigration reform advocates not to expect him to take a lead in pushing for passage of a bill. Stay classy, Senator McCain.
From the National Journal:
John McCain sounds angry and frustrated that, despite the risks he took in pushing immigration reform, Hispanic voters flocked to Democrat Barack Obama in last year's presidential contest. McCain's raw emotions burst forth recently as he heatedly told Hispanic business leaders that they should now look to Obama, not him, to take the lead on immigration.
The meeting in the Capitol's Strom Thurmond Room on March 11 was a Republican effort led by Sens. McCain of Arizona, John Thune of South Dakota, and Mel Martinez of Florida to reach out to Hispanics. But two people who attended the session say they were taken aback by McCain's anger.
What began as a collegial airing of views abruptly changed when McCain spoke about immigration, according to these sources, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. Anonymity was also requested by a third source, who was not at the meeting but was told, independently of the other two, that McCain had displayed his notorious temper.
"He was angry," one source said. "He was over the top. In some cases, he rolled his eyes a lot. There were portions of the meeting where he was just staring at the ceiling, and he wasn't even listening to us. We came out of the meeting really upset."
NBC earlier reportedd the gunman may have been a Vietnamese immigrant named Jiverly Voong.Then they reported the name is an alias, though the shooter was "no stranger" to the ACA. We'll have to see since the story seems to keep changing.
NBC is reporting that they have made an identification of the shooter in Binghampton but are not releasing it yet. Also, there are 13 dead including the gunman.
NBC's Pete Sessions says police now believe there was just a single gunman in the Binghampton shooting and has killed himself. Still no information on who he was.
Here is a little information on the work done at ACA and we're obviously all praying for a quick end to this tragedy:
The American Bar Association has partnered with mega-firm Bryan Cave to educate the public on the criminal activities of "notarios" preying on immigrants around the US. Notarios use the name because in much of Latin America, a Notario is a high level professional carrying out the same kinds of duties that a lawyer in the US does. In the US, one can get the title of Notary Public, which sounds a lot like "notario", just by paying a few dollars to a county clerk. Notaries Public main duties in the US are simply witnessing signatures.
And you can probably guess what has happened. People have gotten designated as notaries in the US and are holding themselves out as being immigration lawyers despite the fact that they have no legal training and no oversight by a licensing authority or ethics board. The practice is a crime in every state, but the amount of enforcement has been uneven.
I've seen a lot of serious harm caused by notarios over the years, much of it heart breaking, so I'm glad to see the ABA educating the public.
The New York Times, which has rightly earned a reputation for providing perhaps the most in depth immigration coverage of any newspaper in the country, has an important story this morning on how Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not been forthcoming on reporting deaths of detainees in its custody. Nina Bernstein's outstanding report initially focuses on the death of Ahmad Tanveer, a Pakistani New Yorker who died in 2005 at the Monmouth County Correctional Facility in Freehold, New Jersey.
The difficulty of confirming the very existence of the dead man, Ahmad Tanveer, 43, a Pakistani New Yorker, shows how death can fall between the cracks in immigration detention, the rapidly growing patchwork of more than 500 county jails, profit-making prisons and federal detention centers where half a million noncitizens were held during the last year while the government tried to deport them.
The case underscores the secrecy and lack of legal accountability that continue to shield the system from independent oversight, despite years of escalating Congressional inquiries and new efforts by Obama administration appointees to promote transparency.
“We still do not know, and we cannot know, if there are other deaths that have never been disclosed by ICE, or that ICE itself knows nothing about,” said Tom Jawetz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been battling in court for months to obtain government records on all detention deaths, including the Freehold case and those named on the first government list, obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act and published last year.
Read this story and pass it on.
April 02, 2009
Apparently, Mitt Romney finally read the memo that said you will NEVER become President if Hispanic Americans hate you. I warned him about this a year and a half ago. Romney told the Hill newspaper this about immigration:
Romney believes that one way to attract more minorities to the GOP is to pass immigration reform before the next election, saying the issue becomes demagogued by both parties on the campaign trail.
The Houston Chronicle has run a report showing Immigration and Customs Enforcement is paying detained immigrants in Houston detention centers $1 per day for performing work such as cleaning, doing laundry, washing dishes, working as barbers, working in the medical clinic and more. 11,000 detainees participated in the Houston work program over the last year. ICE insists the program is voluntary, but some are seeing an irony:
April 01, 2009
When I was a rookie lawyer nearly 20 years ago, I remember being thoroughly embarrassed because I calculated a fee incorrectly on a visa application and ended up costing the client several weeks delay in getting their visa. It's a mistake that was easy to make given the myriad of forms and separate fees that are included in many applications. And I've learned over the years that this is one of the public's top frustrations with dealing with USCIS.
It's also one that is potentially the easiest to solve, particularly in the Internet age. USCIS' Ombudsman has issued several helpful suggestions for how USCIS could better handle fee payments.
I'm glad one of America's greatest companies is not afraid to tell it like it is on the subject of skilled worker immigration even if they'll get flak.
Mean time, protectionist Senator Chuck (wait, I'm a Republican?) Grassley continues to beat the drums for destroying the H-1B program.
Finally, on this first day of the H-1B filing period (which will still probably get used up right away), various organizations are weighing in on the value of the program. NAFSA: Association of International Educators makes a strong case as does AILA.
Is the Obama Administration preparing to torpedo plans for comprehensive immigration reform this year in exchange for a series of lesser interim reforms? I'm trying to read the tea leaves and am really curious about something Vice President Biden said on his recent Central America trip.
"It's difficult to tell a constituency while unemployment is rising,
they're losing their jobs and their homes, that what we should do is in
fact legalize (illegal immigrants) and stop all deportation," Biden
told a news conference in the Costa Rican capital.
"We believe, the president and I, that this problem can only be
solved in the context of an overall immigration reform," Biden said,
asked about the chances of extending temporary migrant protection
"We need some forbearance as we try to put together a comprehensive approach to deal with this."
I've never heard the term "forbearance" used in the immigration context before. Dictionary.com says it means "an abstaining from the enforcement of a right". I know banks use the term when they allow a borrower to put off making payments on a loan.
Perhaps Biden is talking about ending work site raids for a while, something that many observers think will happen. But does this really do much other than end some of the disturbing images we've seen on television? Unless we get in to a Great Depression situation (where the unemployment rate was about triple the current rate), we're not likely going to be in a situation where nearly enough Americans are available to replace the millions of immigrants currently working around the US without proper documentation. And G-d help us if that becomes the case since the jobs filled by these folks are bottom rung positions and this would certainly not bode well for the long term prospects of an economic superpower.
But perhaps the Vice President also means looking at a policy that offers a very limited form of relief to those millions of workers beyond a raid moratorium until the economic situation in the country is better. Former House Immigration Subcommittee Minority Counsel Nolan Rappaport and I wrote an article recently calling for a relief similar to Temporary Protected Status for those workers that would provide a short term employment card that would also allow for travel in and out of the country. And that's it. No path to a green card or citizenship. No right to bring over relatives. Just some interim relief until economic times are better and Congress is ready to deal with something more comprehensive.
This might also explain why the DREAM Act was just reintroduced. Is the AgJobs bill and maybe an employment immigration reform measure benefiting STEM workers coming as well? Perhaps the plan is to do something short of full scale reform that will include some of the key reforms on the table for the last few years. Perhaps these proposals would be bundled with some key reforms that the enforcement advocates want to see such as permanently reauthorizing e-Verify and requiring its use by US employers and getting a social security no-match system in place. US employers are more likely to be able to handle massive changes like these if workers have employment documents as noted above.
The question may be whether immigration activists on both sides of the debate are willing to compromise and accept proposals short of what they've envisioned? Will they decide that there is still a good chance to get a whole deal? Will they decide the status quo is a better alternative than partial reform?
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