Senator Durbin says the votes are there, but that a vote on DREAM is not likely right now. Instead, the legislation is seen as an attractive item to include in a comprehensive reform bill.
The Senate has passed a resolution sponsored by Senators Kohl (D-WI), Voinovich (R-OH), Brownback (R-KS) and Wyden (D-OR) that recognizes June 6th, 1939 as one of the most shameful days in American immigration history. The text of S. Res. 111 tells the story:
Recognizing June 6, 2009, as the 70th anniversary of the tragic date when the M.S. St. Louis, a ship carrying Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, returned to Europe after its passengers were refused admittance to the United States.
Whereas on May 13, 1939, the ocean liner M.S. St. Louis departed from Hamburg, Germany for Havana, Cuba with 937 passengers, most of whom were Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution;
Whereas the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s implemented a program of violent persecution of Jews;
Whereas the Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, pogrom of November 9 through 10, 1938, signaled an increase in violent anti-Semitism;
Whereas after the Cuban Government, on May 27, 1939, refused entry to all except 28 passengers on board the M.S. St. Louis, the M.S. St. Louis proceeded to the coast of south Florida in hopes that the United States would accept the refugees;
Whereas the United States refused to allow the M.S. St. Louis to dock and thereby provide a haven for the Jewish refugees;
Whereas the Immigration Act of 1924 placed strict limits on immigration;
Whereas a United States Coast Guard cutter patrolled near the M.S. St. Louis to prevent any passengers from jumping to freedom;
Whereas following denial of admittance of the passengers to Cuba, the United States, and Canada, the M.S. St. Louis set sail on June 6, 1939, for return to Antwerp, Belgium with the refugees; and
Whereas 254 former passengers of the M.S. St. Louis died under Nazi rule: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) recognizes that June 6, 2009, marks the 70th anniversary of the tragic date when the M.S. St. Louis returned to Europe after its passengers were refused admittance to the United States and other countries in the Western Hemisphere;
(2) honors the memory of the 937 refugees aboard the M.S. St. Louis, most of whom were Jews fleeing Nazi oppression, and 254 of whom subsequently died during the Holocaust;
(3) acknowledges the suffering of those refugees caused by the refusal of the United States, Cuban, and Canadian governments to provide them political asylum; and
(4) recognizes the 70th anniversary of the M.S. St. Louis tragedy as an opportunity for public officials and educators to raise awareness about an important historical event, the lessons of which are relevant to current and future generations.
The story of the St. Louis was the subject of the Academy Award nominated 1976 film Voyage of the Damned starring Faye Dunaway, Lee Grant and Dame Wendy Hiller. That film was based on a book of the same title by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts.
There are still some survivors alive today including Professor Clark Blatteis at the University of Tennessee here in Memphis (who is also the father of a good friend of mine).
One of the legacies of the St. Louis tragedy and, more broadly, the Holocaust, was the US signing on to the UN Convention on Refugees which would require the US to grant asylum to people fleeing for their lives. We can be proud that for 60 years, we have had a robust refugee program that welcomes people in such circumstances as the passengers of the St. Louis.
Just a reminder that I'll be hosting a teleconference today on the immigration consequences of downsizing and layoffs. If you have been laid off, are worried about being laid off or are an HR employee with a company or institution that may have to downsize and you're worried about how to not make a bad situation worse for your foreign employees, you'll want to listen to the call.
You can register for the free program here.
May 21, 2009
The Washington Post reports on data released from the Border Patrol. Among the findings:
- The number of Border Patrol agents has more than doubled from 9,000 in 2001 to 20,000 this year.
- 626 miles of the border with Mexico are now covered by fencing and vehicle barriers which is about half of the planned coverage on the 2000 mile border.
- Border arrests are down from nearly 1.75 million in 2000 to 723,000 over the past year
While the economy obviously plays a role, the dramatic uptick in enforcement sure is playing a role and Senator Schumer's contention that we can make a credible claim that real enforcement is occurring is truthful .
In the anti-immigration camp, there is the major group which opposes any form of legalization and is of mixed thinking on future worker provisions. And then there is a more moderate group that is against immigration reform but is not against the concept of legalization out of hand. Rather, they want to proceed with immigration reform in stages. First secure the border, then move forward with legalization.
It is this last camp that Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chair Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems to be courting when he told CBS News that the border was now secure enough to proceed with immigration reform this year. Being able to report to constituents significant progress in cutting down on illegal entries to the country will provide critical cover for legislators that are likely in favor of immigration reform, but dealing with skeptical voters.
As I've reported on this blog, the data backs up what Schumer is saying. The number of illegally present immigrants has been dropping and DHS is reporting significant decreases in illegal border entries. A surprising (and likely hostile) source of support could be groups like the Center for Immigration Studies which have been touting the evidence of decreasing illegal immigration as evidence that tough enforcement tactics are working. Of course, they would like the next step to be .... more of the same. Their end goal is getting rid of all illegally present immigrants followed by a virtual ban on all new immigration.
Pro-immigration groups can take CIS' claims, however, as giving critical support to Schumer's argument to the anti-CIS moderates. The borders ARE under control and the federal government is finally able to report significant progress on reducing the illegally present immigrant population in the country. It's time for the next stage of the reform process.
H.R. 2536 has been introduced in the House by Congressman Robert Wexler. This is the first step in what will be a very tough process. The bill's text has not yet been released, but it is going to be highly similar to H.R. 5924, introduced last year. The bill would allocate 20,000 additional green cards per year for three years for nurses and physical therapists. Spouses and children will get green cards and will not be included in the 20,000 figure. Employer petitioners will pay a $1500 fee in addition to regular green card fees. The fee will support nurse training programs around the US.
President Obama recently mentioned plans for holding a White House meeting to discuss proceeding with immigration reform legislation. And now he is keeping that promise by setting June 8th, just three weeks from now, to hold the meeting.
According to Politico:
"The meeting will be an opportunity to launch a policy conversation that we hope will be able to start a debate that will take place in Congress later in the year," the official, who asked not to be named, said.
Asked if the session would be billed as a summit or a forum, like similar meetings on health care and fiscal responsibility earlier in the year, another official said, "This isn’t a forum or a summit with outside groups, this is solely a meeting with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the issue."
Another aide said about possible labels for the meeting: "I don't know that we're going to brand this in any particular way."
My next teleconference will be on Tuesday, May 26th at 4 pm eastern/3 pm central/2 pm mountain/1 pm pacific and will provide information for immigrant workers who have been or may be laid off as well as employers trying to figure out how to handle a potential lay off of an immigrant worker. I will also be answering questions that listeners may have.
You can sign up for this free program by going here.
From Business Week:
A report released on Tuesday makes the case that increased immigration is not a cause of increased unemployment in the U.S. The study, “The Unemployment Disconnect: Untying the Knot,” was issued by the Immigration Policy Center, the research arm of the American Immigration Law Foundation, an association of immigration lawyers that generally supports pro-immigration policies.
The study sets out with the assertion that if immigrants are taking jobs away from native-born workers, “one would expect to find high unemployment rates in those parts of the country with large numbers of immigrants.” Examining state, county, and metropolitan area data, the study finds no correlation between levels of immigration and native-born unemployment. “The numbers of recent immigrants in an area provide no indication of what the unemployment rate might be.”
Other factors, like an area’s mix of industries, are better indicators of unemployment than immigration numbers, say the authors. In fact, the report concludes that the highest unemployment rates are found in counties located in manufacturing centers and in rural areas, which tend to have relatively fewer immigrants.Business Week's Moira Herbst does raise some questions regarding the results including the question of why illegal immigrants are leaving the country in droves as unemployment has risen. Nevertheless, the report does raise real doubts about just how close a link there is between employment and immigration numbers.
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