A lot of people influenced my decision to become an immigration lawyer nearly two decades ago, but one person that certainly deserves mention is Judge Diane Wood. I first took her international trade law class at the University of Chicago and it turned out to be my best grade in law school. I then did an independent study with Professor Wood and wrote about the integration of the European legal profession, a topic that introduced me to the subject of employment immigration law.
Five years after I graduated U of C, Professor Wood was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and has distinguished herself over the years as one of the country's leading judicial thinkers. Interestingly, she is best known for her decision in the Nazarova deportation case where she ruled that an immigration judge was out of bounds when he ordered a woman deported because her interpreter showed up late for her hearing.
The New York Times has a great article on Judge Wood this morning explaining why she has emerged as a leading candidate to fill the Souter seat on the US Supreme Court. Professor Wood would be a sensational choice and I hope President Obama gives serious thought to appointing his former faculty colleague.
May 11, 2009
Ten years ago I gave a lecture on Demjanjuk case and reported that this accused Nazi war criminal was on the verge of being deported. At that point, his case was already almost a decade old. He has since pursued every avenue of appeal - some I didn't know were possible - and managed to remain in this country all these years.
Today time ran out and at this moment, the man who is a suspect in the murder of 29,000 people at the Sobibor concentration camp is on a plane to Germany where he will face a trial - no doubt one of the last war crimes trials that will ever be conducted for Nazi atrocities.
As I mentioned Friday,I'm going to be hosting regular teleconferences to discuss the latest immigration news, answer listener questions and interview invited guests.
The first call will be this Wednesday at 4 pm eastern/3 pm central/2 pm mountain/1 pm pacific time. The calls are free and you can click here to register.
Business Week has kicked off a series of stories exploring the impact of immigrants in today's economy with a fairly balanced piece discussing the arguments for and against increased work-based immigrant visa numbers. Worth the read.
May 09, 2009
This is a good omen. It seems that immigration restrictions really started to get worse around 9/11 which is also when the crown of Lady Liberty, America's symbol of our commitment to a generous immigration policy, was closed to the public.
May 08, 2009
I've been planning this for a while, but have been distracted by other projects. But given the angst surrounding the new Visa Bulletin as well as everything else in the news, now sounds like a good time to begin. Starting next Wednesday at 4 pm eastern/3 pm central, I'll be hosting a regular (and free) national teleconference that will give me a chance to talk about what's in the news regarding immigration and also discuss questions and topics that folks request. I'm also planning on having programs with invited guests from time. I'd like the calls to be interactive and will try and have chat/email going throughout the call. We're working on those details now.
I'll have a link to a web form to sign up shortly. Or you can just email me and put "send me teleconference details" in the subject header. I'm looking forward to interacting with you in a new way!
[Forgot to mention that I'll be making the calls available online afterwards for those who miss them and want to hear via the web or as a podcast.]
The EB-2 category for Indian nationals has retrogressed four years and will be set at January 1, 2000 for applications received beginning June 1st. If you are from China, the backlog is five years less - February 15, 2005. And if you are from any other country in the world, there is no wait at all.
I am really appalled that Congress allows such an unjust distribution methodology to remain the law. No country is permitted to claim more than 7% of the numbers in a green card category. That means tiny countries like Andorra and Botswana get the same number of green cards as the world's most populous nations. And a country like India that disproportionately produces extremely bright and qualified professionals is actually punished for doing too good a job in its education system.
Indian immigrants - over the last few years you have started to get organized to push for improvements in visa processing with some success. Now is the time to really take this to the next level and push for real changes to employment-based processing. Or you can simply accept the reality that you have to wait ten years longer than everyone else to get a green card.
Here is a summary of the June bulletin:
Family 1st - Advancement of worldwide, China and India numbers by ten weeks to 08 NOV 2002. Mexico remains stalled (again) at 8 OCT 1992. The Philippines advances one month to 1 SEP 1993.
Family 2A - Worldwide, India, China and the Philippines numbers advance nine weeks to 15 DEC 2004. Mexico jumps six weeks to 15 MAY 2002.
Family 2B - Worldwide, India and China numbers advance ten weeks to 01 FEB 2001. Mexico is still stuck at 1 MAY 1992. The Philippines advances two months to 01 APR 1998.
Family 3rd - Worldwide, India and China advanced one month to 08 OCT 2000. Mexico is stalled at 22 OCT 1992. And there was a one week advance for the Philippines to 01 JUL 1991.
Family 4th - Worldwide numbers and India advance nine weeks to 15 AUG 1998. China moves nearly five months to join the worldwide number 15 15 AUG 1998. Mexico moves two weeks forward to 15 MAY 1995. The Philippines moved three weeks to 01 AUG 1986.
Employment 1st - All categories remain current.
Employment 2nd - Worldwide, Mexico and the Philippines remain current. India, as noted above, retrogresses to 01 JAN 2000. China remains stalled at 15 FEB 2005.
Employment 3rd skilled/professional workers –This category remains unavailable and it is not clear yet when it will again be available.
Employment 4th – All categories remain current.
Employment 5th – All categories remain current.
May 07, 2009
Computerworld, which has been the media outlet of choice for the protectionist crowd, reports on one subject addressed by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano during her testimony this week. Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee that USCIS is stepping up enforcement in the H-1B program. Anti-fraud measures being instituted include site visits.
Some of the antis out there probably think that I have a problem with this. They would be wrong. Many of the anecdotes of bad behavior reported by critics of the H-1B program are quite unlawful under existing law.The vast majority of employers comply with the law and are using the H-1B program legitimately. A small minority of bad actors hurt the reputation of the program and give ammunition to protectionists who seek to impose new "anti-fraud" provisions that are really just new trade barriers.
Crack down on the abusers of the program using the array of existing rules on the books. Then we can focus the debate on what really is the issue - free trade in services or imposing protectionist trade barriers.
My friend Tamar Jacoby has an excellent editorial in today's Los Angeles Times providing an overview of the current political landscape for comprehensive immigration reform:
The question for the months ahead: Will these differences undo the reform movement, or will left and right find ways to compromise, broadening their base and expanding their power?
Here's the other big question: How strong are the anti-immigrant activists who dominated the debate last time -- talk radio and CNN's Lou Dobbs and their inflamed, angry followers. In fact, as poll after poll showed, these naysayers represented a relatively small segment of Americans -- no more than 20% to 25%. But they were loud and well-organized, and they managed to generate doubts about reform among a much larger group of uncertain, ambivalent voters.
Dobbs and former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo are already ratcheting up their anti-immigrant rhetoric, and the recession may help them. But it's also possible that things will play out differently, that some of the far-right's anger is spent, and that the doubts won't catch on as they did last time among the broader public. Voters are anxious and self-absorbed, but as Obama's election and continued popularity show, voters want things fixed. They want Washington to act boldly, to tackle hard problems, to make the compromises necessary to pass fundamental reforms. And immigration may well benefit from the new can-do, reformist mood.
Will it be immigration deja vu in 2009? It could be -- the same old stale debate or an equally uncompromising one. But enough has already changed that it could be different this time around. Who knows, this time, we as a nation might even get to "yes."
May 06, 2009
In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano discussed the DREAM Act when answering a question from Illinois Senator Richard Durbin:
Madam Secretary, thanks for being here. As a former governor of a border state, the story I'm about to tell you may sound familiar.
Two weeks ago, I had a meeting in Chicago with student from one of our leading high schools. I met a young woman who was valedictorian of her class and was on a winning team in a science competition who had been accepted at an Ivy League university and was looking forward to pursuing a degree in biology which may lead to medical research or becoming a medical doctor.
But she had a problem. She same to the United States when she was two years old. She was brought by her parents from Mexico. Her parents sold corn on the street corners. And she grew up here. She speaks perfect English. She's never known another country in her entire life. And she's undocumented.
I've introduced a bill for eight years now called the Dream Act. My co-sponsors this year include Senators Lugar and Menendez. And it says, for young Americans -- or young people living in America in her circumstance, that they be given a chance through either two years of service in the military or the completion of two years of college, to move toward legal status. I'm hoping, praying, for so many young people who are counting on this that we will have a chance to consider and pass that this year.
Could you tell me your opinion of the Dream Act?
NAPOLITANO: Yes, Senator.
As a governor of a border state, this is one of -- this is one of those areas where everyone wants the immigration law enforced. We must enforce it. It's part of our national sovereignty, among other things. On the other hand, we have to have the ability to deal with some of the human issues that arise here. And the one that you have identified is one of the most acute.
I supported the Dream Act when I was governor. I support it now. One of the most moving things I've been privileged to do as secretary is to administer the oath of citizenship to men and women in our military who have been serving in Iraq, who were not citizens, who have elected to become citizen. In a way, it kind of mirrors what you're talking about in the Dream Act.
But it seems to me that the Dream Act is a good piece of legislation and a good idea.
Indian-born Renu Khator is the president of the University of Houston and the first Indian immigrant to head a major research university. Khator received a Ph.D. in political science and public administration from Purdue University and then went on to spend 20 years rising through the administration ranks at the University of South Florida. She assumed the University of Houston position in January 2008.
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