Despite being on the books for nearly two decades and there being little evidence of any abuse of visa categories designed to help immigrant victims of violence, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives is seeking to strip out provisions in VAWA relating to immigrants despite the fact that the Senate has already voted to keep that section in the law.The White House is threatening to veto the bill if those protections are taken out.
From the LA Times:
Republicans in Congress are proposing to strip away existing protections for immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence.
Currently the law offers anonymity to victims of domestic abuse who are applying for residency visas so that their applications cannot be sabotaged by their abusers. To encourage victims of domestic abuse crimes to remain in the U.S. and cooperate with police, witnesses are able to apply for a special residency visa and eventually apply for permanent residency.
Both of these safeguards have been removed from the House bill.
“It’s never been this nasty,” said an administration official involved in the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly. “We’d rather not have a bill than have this be the bill,” the official said.
The green card lottery has come under fire from many immigration restrictionists for years, but pro-immigration advocates have held off the naysayers largely because proposals to eliminate the lottery haven't come with any sort of attractive trade. But Senator Jon Cornyn (R-TX), the chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee thinks he has a deal that will appeal to enough members of Congress to cause the elimination of the lottery. The STAR Act would add an additional 55,000 green cards annually to science, technology, engineering and math graduates of "US research institutions" which broadly includes any colleges or universities receiving more than $5,000,000 in federal research grants. Students coming to pursue such degrees would be "dual intent" non-immigrants and could pursue green cards while in student status. Also, applicants could file adjustment of status applications for an extra fee even if no green card numbers available. They would have to wait on a green card number as is the case today, but could work legally while in the queue.
In general, I'm in favor of proposals like this. While there are cases where lottery entrants have important contributions to make, STEM degree holders have the stronger case and this proposal would do much for making the US more competitive.
Earlier today I blogged about Senator Cornyn's STAR bill promoting the immigration of science, technology, engineering and math professionals. Another bill just introduced that received a little less publicity, but which also is targeted at promoting STEM immigration is the SMART Bill (Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology). Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons and Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander are co-sponsors. The bill revives a concept in comprehensive immigration reform proposals from the recent past that calls for the creation of an F-4 visa for STEM students that tracks in to a green card.
Despite the lack of media coverage, Senator Alexander says he has quietly garnered broad bipartisan support - about 35 members of each party.
Well, I guess the money is worth the bar on returning to the US. In case you haven't been watching the news, Facebook founder Eduardo Saverin, a Brazilian born, naturalized US citizen has renounced his citizenship, just in time to avoid taxes on the fortune about to land in his lap from the company's initial public offering. Talking Points Memo interviews a few friends of mine - Crystal Williams and Adam Green - who explain that renouncing your citizenship to avoid taxes comes with a heavy price tag - loss of one's ability to reenter the US. I guess he'll be able to afford to have everyone he wants to see flown to him.
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.