I am fortunate enough to have a pretty good arts and sports immigration practice. I've met a lot of really talented people from both fields over the years. I can't say I remember a family that has had members who have achieved as much as the Kleiza family, originally from Lithuania. Mother Kristina and afther Egidijus are two very successful painters. Kristina was a very successful artist in Lithuania and Egidijus was an art professor and furniture designer. The two moved to the United States with their children 14 years ago and run an art studio in New York. You can see their work on their web site.
Their son is actually the best known member of the family, however, and it is not because of any artistic skills he may have inherited. Linas Kleis is a starting forward for the NBA's Denver Nuggets which are now in the NBA playoffs leading the Dallas Mavericks. Linas averages 10 points and 4 rebounds per game and was a starter on the Lithuanian national team which placed fourth in the Beijing Olympics.
Good luck, Linas!
The family is profiled in today's New York Times.
May 04, 2009
Some of you who visit my web site may know I've been publishing a newsletter on immigration law online for the last 15 years, making it, to the best of my knowledge, the oldest online law firm newsletter. The newsletter is distributed by email as well. I normally don't post much relating to my law practice here, but my co-writer Ken Bragdon and I put a lot of information out in this newsletter that I don't get a chance to post on the blog. So I'm posting the contents of my latest newsletter.
-Immigrant Deaths Increase Despite Dip in Undocumented Crossings
- ICE Officials Break Up Large Ariz. Human Smuggling Ring
- Majority of US Hispanics Have Trust Issues with Law Enforcement
- Report: NJ Police Abusing State Directive to Profile Hispanics
- Salt Lake City Police Refuse to Use State Immigration Enforcement Law
- State Department to Increase Passport System after GAO Finds Flaws
6. News Bytes
- Study: Almost Half of 2008's New Citizens Hispanic
- Obama Appoints New
"Border Czar" for Justice Department
- NY Senators ask for Posthumous Citizenship for Slain Immigrants
From the NY Times:
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that the federal government has been going too far in using identity-theft laws to prosecute undocumented workers who use fake identification to get and hold jobs.
In limiting the use of a law enacted in 2004 that has become a favorite weapon of the authorities who go after illegal immigrants, the justices said that to use it, a prosecutor must be able to show that a defendant knew that the identification he used actually belonged to another person.
The ruling in Flores-Figueroa v. United States, No. 08-108, was written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer and relied heavily on the wording of the statute, specifically its language regarding when a defendant can be properly accused of “knowingly” and unlawfully using another person’s identification.
“As a matter of ordinary English grammar, it seems natural to read the statute’s word ‘knowingly’ as applying to all the subsequently listed elements of the crime,” Justice Breyer wrote, going on to discuss transitive verbs, their objects and the appropriate placement of adverbs.
The decision was 9-0, a resounding defeat for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In a number of high profile work site raids over the past few years, DHS has used or threatened to use identify theft in order to criminally prosecute illegally present workers as opposed to the traditionally used deportation process.
I don't think identity theft prosecutions are going to end. In fact, one of the consequences of the expansion of E-Verify and the eventual publication of a social security no-match rule is that there will be MORE pressure to engage in identity theft. If workers find that merely providing a bogus social security number and a bogus identification document are not enough to get through the verification system, then it is more likely the worker will try and get a name and a number that actually match and assume that identity. E-Verify and the no-match rule won't necessarily catch these kinds of cases.
The case requires a showing that an employee had actual knowledge that the identity was stolen and in a case, for example, where a person assumes both a false name and a false social security number, prosecutors may still seek criminal charges, especially if they have evidence to independently support the claim that the worker knew.
But cases like Postville where employees quickly pleaded guilty to criminal identity theft charges based on little more than the evidence that the worker used a false document are going to be less likely in the future.
[UPDATE: Here is the actual case]
Flores-Figueroa v. United States - Free Legal Forms
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama will become the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee under which the Immigration Subcommittee is included. Sessions has been one of the Senate's most vocal opponents of immigration reform. Sessions may only be in for the remainder of this Congress and then he is expected to pursue the ranking position on the Budget Committee. Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley has indicated his interest in pursuing the Judiciary job when the next Congress is sworn in.
On the heels of the CBS/New York TImes poll showing substantial support for legalizing illegally present immigrants, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows similar strong support.
May 03, 2009
Interesting. The Chair of the Senate's Immigration Subcommittee is sounding pretty confident that an immigration plan will be signed by the President before 2009 is over.
The New York Times published a poll this week that only 30% of Americans would like to see the twelve million illegally present immigrants in the US deported. And 65% would like to see them legalized either on a temporary basis or given a path to eventual citizenship. In fact, while the number wanting to see legalization dropped by one percent since the same question was asked in late 2007, a significantly higher percentage polled preferred a path to citizenship versus temporary status. For all of those saying that the public won't accept legalization during a severe economic downturn, the numbers just don't back that up. The antis just don't seem to get that Americans are instinctively pro-immigration and don't view the subject strictly in economic terms.
Here is the actual polling result:
Which comes closest to your view regarding illegal immigrants who are currently working in the US? 1. They should be allowed to stay in their jobs and eventually apply for US citizenship; or 2. They should be allowed to stay in their jobs only as temporary guestworkers, but NOT allowed to apply for US citizenship; or 3. They should required to leave their jobs and leave the US.
Stay and Stay as Required to leave DK/NA
apply for citzenship guestworkers jobs and US
12/5-9/07 38 28 28 6
4/22-26/09 44 21 30 5
May 02, 2009
The third of three immigrants on the the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology is Professor Ahmed Zewail, the winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Dr. Zewail is a professor of Chemistry and Physics at Caltech and is the Director of Caltech's Physical Biology Center. Dr. Zewail describes his research as follows:
The second of three immigrants on the the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology is German-born Barbara Schaal. Professor Schaal teaches biology at Washington University in St. Louis and is the first woman to ever hold the position of Vice President of the National Academy of Sciences. Schaal's field is plant genetics and she has done a great deal of research in to evolutionary processes and plant species.
President Obama has selected three foreign-born scholars to serve on his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The first of the three immigrants on PCAST is Mario Molina.
Professor Molina, a Mexican native, is the winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. It was awarded based on his discovering the threat posed by CFCs to the ozone layer. Professor Molina is a member of the Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty at the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He is also the Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment in Mexico City.
May 01, 2009
Very shortly, Congress will consider legislation that could allow 60,000 foreign nurses to come to the US. We face a shortage that will approach a million by the end of the next decade. On a daily basis, the lack of nurses is a serious problem, but not so noticeable to the typical American. But what happens if we have a pandemic and all of a sudden hospitals around the country are called on to deal with hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - of sick patients at the same time? We're getting a little preview of that right now with just a few dozen cases of swine flu. The LA Times reports today that hospitals around the US are already feeling the strain and almost no one is even infected. It's obvious that we are treading in very dangerous water when we allow a nurse shortage to fester and allow immigration and labor union politics to get in the way of securing the American public. The time is now to aggressively pursue every means available to solve the health care worker shortages we're facing. That means pouring money in to nursing education. It means providing incentives to encourage nurses to come back to the profession. It means subsidizing nurses who choose to teach nursing so they can earn a competitive salary. And it means having a generous nursing immigration program that will help alleviate the shortage until we can produce enough nurses on our own.
This is a pretty thoughtful analysis that discusses the good and bad points of E-Verify, looks at how the mandatory E-Verify program is going in Arizona and discusses proposals to improve the electronic employment verification system. Definitely worth the read if you're following this topic.
As the swine flu maybe pandemic dominates the news and immigrants are being falsely blamed by demagogues on the airwaves, its nice to hear about an immigrant who is helping to save us all from this bug.
Dr. Richard Webby, a New Zealand native is right here in my home town of Memphis leading the team at the world renown St. Jude Children's Research Hospital working on the flu vaccine. St. Jude is one of five institutions across the world that the World Health Organization has tapped to help quickly develop a vaccine. Six years ago Webby led a team that quickly developed a vaccine for the bird flu which many feared would become a pandemic.
April 30, 2009
Congrats to President Obama on his first 100 days in office. And well done on keeping immigration reform on the front burner. During his prime time press conference last night, the President had this to say about immigration reform:
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, when you met with the Hispanic caucus a few weeks ago, reports came out that the White House was planning to have a forum to talk about immigration and bring it to the forefront. Going forward, my question is, what is your strategy to try to have immigration reform? And are you still on the same timetable to have it accomplished in the first year of your presidency? And also I'd like to know if you're going to reach out to Senator John McCain, who is Republican and in the past has favored immigration reform?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we reach out to Senator McCain on a whole host of issues. He has been a leader on immigration reform; I think he has had the right position on immigration reform, and I would love to partner with him and others on what is going to be a critical issue. We've also worked with Senator McCain on what I think is a terrific piece of legislation that he and Carl Levin have put together around procurement reform. We want that moved and we're going to be working hard with them to get that accomplished.
What I told the congressional Hispanic caucus is exactly what I said the very next day in a town hall meeting and what I will continue to say publically, and that is we want to move this process. We can't continue with a broken immigration system. It's not good for anybody. It's not good for American workers. It's dangerous for Mexican would-be workers who are trying to cross a dangerous border. It is putting a strain on border communities who oftentimes have to deal with a host of undocumented workers, and it keeps those undocumented workers in the shadows, which means they can be exploited at the same time as they're depressing U.S. wages.
So what I hope to happen is that we're able to convene a working group, working with key legislators, like Luis Gutierrez and Nydia Velázquez and others, to start looking at a framework of how this legislation might be shaped. In the meantime, what we're trying to do is take some core -- some key administrative steps to move the process along to lay the groundwork for legislation, because the American people need some confidence that if we actually put a package together we can execute.
So Janet Napolitano, who has great knowledge of this because of having been a border governor, she's already in the process of reviewing and figuring out how can we strengthen our border security in a much more significant way than we're doing. If the American people don't feel like you can secure the borders, then it's hard to strike a deal that would get people out of the shadows and on a pathway to citizenship who are already here, because the attitude of the average American is going to be, well, you're just going to have hundreds of thousands of more coming in each year. On the other hand, showing that there's a more thoughtful approach than just raids of a handful of workers -- as opposed to, for example, taking seriously the violations of companies that sometimes are actively recruiting these workers to come in -- that's again, something that we can start doing administratively.
So what we want to do is to show that we are competent in getting results around immigration, even on the structures that we already have in place, the laws that we already have in place, so that we're building confidence among the American people that we can actually follow through on whatever legislative approach emerges.
Q: Do you feel confident --
THE PRESIDENT: I see the process moving this first year, and I'm going to be moving it as quickly as I can. I've been accused of doing too much. We are moving full steam ahead on all fronts. Ultimately, I don't have control of the legislative calendar. And so we're going to work with legislative leaders to see what we can do.
The New York Times reports that tomorrow Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be sending instructions to agents in field offices aimed at changing their enforcement focus from work site raids that largely resulted in mass arrests of workers to I-9 audits and undercover investigations mainly targeting employers. However, workers will still be subject to arrest.
According to the Times, the guidelines are partly a response to ICE's blindsiding DHS Secretary Napolitano with an unauthorized raid on a Bellingham, Washington mechanic's shop, which I discussed here.
UPDATE: Here is the DHS Fact Sheet.
DHS Worksite Enforcement Strategy press statement - 04/30/2009 - Free Legal Forms
Sometimes you overplay your hand. Keith Olbermann's take is here.
April 29, 2009
Some of you may know that I've been a co-author of the annually published LexisNexis' J-1 Visa Guidebook for the last dozen years. J-1 visas are used by a variety of folks including students and researchers training in a lot of fields. For many decades, J-1s from developing countries have been required to comply with a requirement to return to their home countries for two years following their J-1 time in the US. The idea is that the J-1 program is a part of the US foreign aid system and the two year requirement is a way to ensure that needed skills learned in the US are transferred back to the J-1 visa holder's home country.
The State Department maintains something called the Exchange Visitor Skills List and it lists all of the countries in the world that it considers to be developing and the particular skills and occupations where the country needs help. If you're a J-1 visa holder from a country on the list and your skill area is included, you're very likely subject to the home residency requirement. The list has not been updated since 1997 and was sorely in need of updating. For example, Iran is on the list of countries we assist via the Skills List.
The State Department today finally released a 2009 Skills List which will become effective June 28th. Sure, Iran is off. But to my great surprise, China remains on the list and most of the math, science and technology skills are still listed. This basically means that we are training a lot of super smart math and science whizzes and then ordering them to leave the US with all of that new knowledge so that they can then help their country compete with us.
India is also on the list even though they are becoming a major economic competitor. At least the IT occupations for India were not included in this new version (though almost all of the other engineering, science, math and technology fields are still there).
Is the State Department completely asleep at the switch?
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