From the LA Times:
A “forgery-proof” worker ID card, secured with biometric data such as fingerprints, is a favored idea of the new chairman of the Senate immigration subcommittee, Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Schumer, who will lead the effort to craft the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform legislation, has publicly espoused the card as the best way to ensure that all workers are authorized.
“The ID will make it easy for employers to avoid undocumented workers, which will allow for tough sanctions against employers who break the law, which will lead to no jobs being available for illegal immigrants, which will stop illegal immigration,” Schumer wrote in his 2007 book, “Positively American.”
“Once Americans are convinced that we will permanently staunch the flow of illegal immigration, they will be more willing to accept constructing a path toward earned citizenship for those who are already here.”
With all of the publicity recently received in the cases of the abortion clinic and Holocaust museum slayings, I'm surprised that this crime has not been getting a lot of publicity:
Shawna Forde, 41, and two associates in her Minuteman American Defense group are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of aggravated assault, according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department in Arizona.
The May 30 killings were believed to be premeditated and part of a plan to steal money and drugs to finance the Minuteman group she leads. Forde's own family said that the woman weeks ago had discussed using robberies to raise money for her cause.
Aside from Forde's connections to the Minutemen, she appears to be connected to FAIR - the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Two sources - the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, and Huffington Post report on the connection.
The smoking gun appears to be this news special from KYVE the public television station in Yakima, Washington. Fast forward to about five minutes in to the one hour show and Ms. Forde is the first guest. She is introduced as a member of the Minuteman and a "representative of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national group concerned about border security, illegal immigrants and our immigration policy."
You can see a brief clip of her her appearance here:
So did Forde really represent FAIR? According to the SPLC's Hatewatch blog, SPLC contacted the PBS station and learned this:
Contacted by Hatewatch, Enrique Cerna, the host of the show and an executive producer, said it’s difficult to remember all the production details of a segment produced three years ago. Still, he said his producers had contacted FAIR, asking for a representative to appear on the show. That representative cancelled at the last minute and was replaced by Forde, who identified herself as a FAIR official. “We wouldn’t have identified her with that organization if she hadn’t said she was speaking on their behalf,” said Cerna.
SPLC also tried to contact FAIR, but was unable to get a response to the question of what kind of connection Forde has with the group.
[UPDATE: At least one anti-immigrant group is claiming it broke ties with Forde months ago]
June 15, 2009
The American Civil Liberties Union has a web site devoted to opposing the Real ID Act of 2005, the federal law that requires states to spend vast sums of money to revamp drivers licenses to make it impossible for illegally present immigrants to get the documents.
Opponents of Real ID include an interesting mix of civil liberties groups, pro-immigration advocates and conservatives opposed to too much government intrusion in our lives.
It's amazing that this happened. It's more amazing that this has happened several times. And it is most amazing that the media rarely covers these stories. Shouldn't this be the lead on the Today Show? This is not the most sympathetic lady in the world, but exile is pretty serious.
The New York Times recently ran a profile piece on radio show host Filemon Lopez who broadcasts in native languages from a station in Fresno, California to poor Mixtec Indians from Mexico working in agriculture in central California. Lopez, a beneficiary of the 1986 legalization program, has been in the US for 30 years. He brings a little piece of home to immigrants performing backbreaking work to put food on our tables.
I had breakfast today with a few advocates and an Obama Administration official who noted that the immigration summit will now be held on June 25th. Encouraging. I also learned that the current expectation is that the immigration reform bill will likely start in the Senate and that Senator Reid is hoping for reform legislation to be considered in the fall.
June 13, 2009
Welcome news from the US Travel Association:
"America's travel community is grateful to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for their leadership on this critical reform to America's visitor entry process," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "The State Department has made great strides in reducing visa wait times in the last year. Allowing tourist visa interviews to be conducted via secure remote videoconferencing technology is another step in the right direction."
In geographically large countries such as India, China and Brazil, a lack of access to U.S. consular offices has meant that entire tour groups or families must travel hundreds of miles to the nearest U.S. consulate just to apply for a visa. For example:
• Although China has 450 cities with more than one-half million people, only 3 cities have a U.S. consulate that offers tour group visa interviews.
• In Brazil and India - with a total land area equal to or greater than the United States - there are only four consulates in the entire country.
Secure, remote videoconferencing technology will enable U.S. consulates around the world to expand access to visa services without the cost of opening additional offices and without reducing the level of security for interviews.
Just days after the Obama Administration told a court it needed another month to decide how it plans to proceed with respect to litigation seeking to kill DHS' proposed no-match rule, the LA Times reports
No immigration agents descended on Overhill Farms, a major food-processing plant in Vernon. No one was arrested or deported. There were no frantic scenes of desperate workers fleeing la migra through the gritty streets of the industrial suburb southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
For more than 200 Overhill workers, however, the effect was devastating: All lost steady jobs last month and now find themselves in a precarious employment market, without severance pay or medical insurance. It wasn't a hot tip or an undercover informant that helped seal their fates, but a computer check of Social Security numbers.
"A desktop raid" is how the workers' representative, John M. Grant, vice president of Local 770 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, described the scenario.
Overhill, a $200-million-a-year company that provides frozen meals for clients such as American Airlines, Panda Express, Safeway and Jenny Craig, says it had no choice: An Internal Revenue Service audit found that 260 workers had provided "invalid or fraudulent" Social Security numbers. The government took no action against the workers. But Overhill did: All of the employees were fired May 31.
The Social Security Administration has issued these letters in the past, but has not sent the letters for the past few years while it has waited on the DHS regulation to be finalized. The IRS says it regularly issues such letters, but if they have, they must be few in number as there has been virtually no discussion of this within the immigration bar.
I've heard from police before who believe that turning local law enforcement officers into immigration enforcement officers discourages people from reporting crimes and distracts the police from doing their jobs. They also know that illegally present immigrants are targets for criminals and this drives up the crime rate for everyone as crime is rarely contained in one community.
The chiefs all called on Congress to pass immigration reform.
This week, leading police officers from around the US held a press conference held a press conference in Washington that included
Chief of Police Art Acevedo of Austin, TX
Chief of Police Jon Zumalt of North Charleston, SC
Art Venegas, the former Police Chief of Sacramento, CA>.
You can listen to the call here:
June 12, 2009
June 11, 2009
The Wall Street Journal reports from India on the obscenely long security clearance delays affecting a number of scientists and engineers who thought they were going back to India for short visits. Instead, they're waiting on clearances based on their being experts in a critical technologies area. The White House has finally gotten the message that this is ridiculous and is now promising clearances in just a few weeks rather than multiple months.
But the story is still just as bad for people stuck in security delays because they have names that are similar to those on the terror watch lists. I've got a few clients in this situation and trying to get answers on these cases is extremely frustrating. The problem is not the security check itself. It's that no one seems to actually be DOING the security check. My clients are just waiting in a line that doesn't seem to be advancing.
The White House has has asked for an additional month to formulate its position on the Social Security no-match rule that was released by President Bush but which has been held up in litigation. Assuming the judge agrees, the extension will mean that the President will have until July 10th to respond to a motion for summary judgment in the case.
This is a decision thousands of couples face every year in America thanks to the anachronistic Defense of Marriage Act:
They had to move, he said, because there was no legal way for them to remain together in the United States.
"It wasn't a decision that any U.S. citizen should have to make," former Mayor J.W. Lown said in an interview from Mexico. "I left a home. I left a ranch. I left a promising political career."
His local prominence and his run for the border on the day he was supposed to be sworn in for a fourth term caused jaws to drop, but it also became a high-profile example of the thousands of Americans who face a similar choice — separate or move abroad — because they can't secure green cards for their partners like heterosexual spouses can.
President Obama mentioned in his NBC interview this week that he doesn't think the Federal government should be in the business of defining marriage when he was explaining why he didn't want to tell states to legalize same sex marriage. That cuts both ways, however. The Defense of Marriage Act says the federal government won't recognize same sex unions even if they are in one of the growing number of states allowing for such marriages. Isn't that, in fact, the federal government taking a position on what should be a legal marriage? It's time to pass a bill allowing same sex couples immigration rights and it's time to scrap the Defense of Marriage Act and live up to our country's ideals when it comes to civil rights.
Harry Reid says he's got 60 votes to support an immigration reform bill. That's a pretty confident tone he's taking and I hope he's right. And for those of you who say that you don't have provisions in the bill helping your group - particularly employment immigration advocates - I'll remind you that the immigration reform bill is what is standing in the way of many other bills moving forward. Once it is passed, we should be back in a normal environment where other problems can be more easily addressed.
For those of you unable to participate in yesterday's call, here is our recording.
We're about to get some expensive new phone equipment that should make the overall sound quality somewhat better.
I'm getting a lot of good feedback from you on the conference calls. We're going to do our next one on June 25th at 4 pm eastern/3 pm central/2 pm mountain/1 pm pacific and the hour will be devoted exclusively to answering audience questions.
As always, the calls are free. If you want to sign up, please click here.
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