Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has announced he is switching to the Democrats and will run for the Democratic nomination for Senate in the Keystone State next year. The Democrats will have a filibuster-proof sixty seats after Al Franken is soon sworn in. As far as immigration politics go, however,this will not really change much. Specter was already a pro-immigration vote and that won't change. In fact, it is a bit disappointing to lose a pro-immigration voice in the GOP leaving just a handful of Senators with a solid record in this area (and one wonders whether the two pro-immigration GOP Senators in Maine are the next ones to jump ship?).
Your Snoutbreak update (hat tip to Jon Stewart). From the State Department's swine flu memo:
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. Consulates throughout the country have suspended all non-essential services to the public until May 6. Consular services for U.S. citizens will be limited to emergency assistance and to citizenship applications (passports and consular reports of birth abroad, or CRBA). Notarial and other routine services will not be available; anyone with passport or CRBA appointments is encouraged but not required to reschedule to a later date. Additionally, Federal Benefits Units are requesting all persons to postpone interviews on Social Security claims. The Embassy will monitor this situation continuously during the week and advise before May 6 if this suspension needs to be extended
The Embassy’s visa unit has suspended all nonimmigrant visa appointments until May 6. The Embassy will reschedule all nonimmigrant visa appointments which have been made between April 27 and May 5. The Embassy’s scheduling center will call or e-mail applicants to reschedule appointments. Alternatively, applicants may re-schedule visa appointments without being charged by calling 01-800-719-2525. If there is an emergency visa issue please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, U.S. consulates in Mexico will suspend some nonimmigrant visa operations until May 6, but may see a limited number of applicants. More information will be provided on April 28, 2009 about nonimmigrant visa operations at U.S. consulates. If visa operations need to be suspended beyond May 6, we will inform the public as soon as possible.
separate notice about immigrant visa appointments at the U.S. Consulate
General in Ciudad Juarez will be issued on April 28, 2009.The Benjamin
Franklin Library will be closed to the public.
April 27, 2009
Universal health care does not just mean that every American has health insurance. It also means that they have access to doctors and nurses. And right now there are dire shortages in both fields. I've posted articles here on the nurse shortage (and you can see a lot more of my writing on this subject at my health care immigration blog at http://www.visalaw.com/blog_hc/blog_hc.html). Today's front page of the New York Times has a story describing the White House's worry that the physician shortage (which could reach more than 150,000 by the end of the next decade) could hamper efforts to extend health care to all Americans.
Senator Conrad's S.628, a bill introduced last month, would do a great deal to help get doctors to the worst medically underserved areas. Hopefully, legislators will remember that RN and MD visas are a health care issue as much as an immigration one.
April 26, 2009
This is encouraging. Here's how DHS says it will work:
After arriving at the FIS area, participants proceed directly to the Global Entry kiosk. A sticker affixed to the participant’s passport at the time of acceptance in Global Entry will provide visual identification that the individual can be referred to the kiosk. Global Entry participants need not wait in the regular passport control primary inspection lines.
After arriving at the kiosk, participants activate the system by inserting into the document reader either a machine-readable passport or a machine-readable U.S. permanent resident card. On-screen instructions guide participants to provide fingerprints electronically. These fingerprints are compared with the fingerprint biometrics on file to validate identity and confirm that the individual is a member of the program. Participants are also prompted to look at the camera for a digital photograph and to respond to several customs declaration questions by use of a touch-screen.
When the procedures at the kiosk have been successfully completed, participants are issued a transaction receipt. This receipt must be provided along with the passport or permanent resident card to the CBP Officer at the exit control area who will examine and inspect these documents. CBP Officers stationed in booths next to the kiosk lanes also oversee activities at the kiosk.
April 24, 2009
The White House today announced the appointment of Cuban-born attorney Alejandro Maryorkas as the nation's new Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Congratulations to Mr. Mayorkas on his appointment.
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:
Alejandro Mayorkas, Nominee for Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
Mayorkas is currently a partner at O'Melveny and Myers, and previously served as the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. As a litigation partner at O'Melveny, Mr. Mayorkas represents Fortune 100 and other companies in their highest profile and most complex and sensitive matters throughout the country and the world. He advises boards of directors and top executives, tries cases, leads internal investigations, and litigates bet-the-company matters in a wide array of industries, including telecommunications, health care, consumer safety, sports and entertainment, aerospace, media, and real estate. At 39 he was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the nation and the first in the Central District of California to be appointed from within the Office. Mayorkas led an office of 240 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the prosecution of cases in varied areas of law enforcement, including cases of public corruption, investment fraud, civil rights violations, high-tech and computer-related crime, organized crime, environmental crime, and international money laundering. The National Law Journal recently named Mr. Mayorkas one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.”
The Senate Immigration Subcommittee will kick off Congress' consideration of an immigration reform bill with a hearing on April 30th entitled "Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?" Here is the lineup:
J. Thomas Manger
Chief of Police, Montgomery County, MD
Director, Major Cities Chiefs Association
Federal Reserve of the United States
Dr. Joel Hunter
Senior Pastor, Northland Church
Member, President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute
Former Commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Executive Vice President
Service Employees International Union
The hearing will be webcast and the link is here.
April 22, 2009
Rasmussen Reports indicates in their latest poll that only 5% of Americans list immigration reform as a top priority, a number that is consistent with historical numbers but is much reduced from the last few years when anti-immigration activists whipped up a wave of nativism not seen in many years in the US. One of the reasons immigration measures big and small have not succeeded in recent years is because the entire issue of immigration has been perceived as radioactive and no one wanted to take on the crazies. As it becomes clear that dealing with immigration issues isn't something that is going to sway many voters one way or the other, it actually might be easier to get down to dealing with bread and butter fixes to problem areas in the system.
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