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Immigration Daily

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Immigration Daily July 15, 2002
Previous Issues

Editor's Comments

The Arizona Daily Star quotes Attorney General Ashcroft "The Department of Justice has no plans to seek additional support from state and local enforcement in enforcing our nation's immigration laws beyond our narrow anti-terrorism mission." (A link to the article appears below.) Presuming the quote is accurate, Mr. Ashcroft deserves to be commended for taking strong measures aimed at thwarting terrorism while implicitly recognizing that our current immigration laws are in some degree unenforceable since they are out-of-sync with reality. Ultimately, however, the burden lies on Congress to relieve the Attorney General of the wholly un-necessary and counter-productive duty of chasing down undocumented laborers toiling to the benefit of themselves and all Americans. Congress must bear in mind that Homeland Security cannot be improved by destroying the Homeland Economy.


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Featured Article

The Prevalence Of Closed Hearings, Secret Evidence, And Denial Of Access To Information Troubling Trends In Recent Department Of Justice Directives
Cyrus D. Mehta writes "Unfortunately, history has shown that in times that are deemed to be times of national crisis, the judicial system has not always stepped up to protect the due process rights that are guaranteed to all persons within the United States, not just its citizens."

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Immigration Law News

TPS For El Salvadorans Extended
INS issued a news release about the Department of Justice's grant of a 12-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible El Salvadorans.

Press Secretary Fleischer Quizzed On Mid-East Visas
At a press briefing, the White House Press Secretary was quizzed on the improper issuance of visas in the Middle East.

Meeting To Solicit Views Of Public To Limit Asylum Access
INS gave notice of a meeting to solicit views from the public concerning the formal negotiations between the INS and the Department of State with the Canadian government "to enter into an agreement that would limit the access of asylum seekers, under appropriate circumstances, to the system of only one of the two countries (safe third-country agreement)."

OF Form Replaced By DS Form
The General Services Administration announced that the Department of State cancelled the Optional Form OF 230, Part 1, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. This form is now a State Department form (DS Form 2083 Part I).

DOS Announces Grants
The Office of Citizen Exchanges of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State announced "an open competition for cooperative international projects that introduce American and foreign participants to each others' social, economic, and political structures and international interests."

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Secretary Powell Yields Visa Authority To DHS
The Washington Times reports "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said [...] that he is willing to let the proposed Department of Homeland Security write rules for entry visas now the State Department's job so that better guidance will be given to those who issue them. [...] Mr. Powell told the [Congressional] panel, which is considering President Bush's proposal for the new department, "I yield all of that authority willingly to the secretary of homeland security."

No Local Enforcement Of Immigration Laws Beyond Anti-Terrorism Mission Says Attorney General Ashcroft
The Arizona Daily Star quotes Attorney General Ashcroft "The Department of Justice has no plans to seek additional support from state and local enforcement in enforcing our nation's immigration laws beyond our narrow anti-terrorism mission."

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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:
I am writing this letter to make my voice heard-- in hopes that there is someone out there with the power to make decisions on immigration policy, who will consider a type of case that has been left out of the immigration dialogue.

Why is it that US immigration policy is so non-merit based? The concept of "merit" is debatable, yes, but there are certain qualities that the majority of countries in this world consider essential in determining residence or citizenship of a person in a certain country. Long-term presence in the country; degree of acculturation; acquisition of the official language; socioeconomic contributions; adherence to the country's laws; and loyalty to the country are common categories of judgment.

I grew up in this country, and have been here for more than half my life. I was an A+ student and graduated from a top-notch university. I have no criminal record, not even a traffic violation, and I have not been illegal for one day. It just so happened that after I had spent many years in this country as a child, I accompanied my parents back to their home country upon the termination of their business assignment in the states. I returned to the US to attend college and have been here since-- struggling on an H-1b visa. I spent several years of my life starting every school day pledging allegiance to the flag, and upon my return, I am treated as an alien. How could this possibly be justified?? The knowledge that I am illegal the moment I am fired in this fragile economy, that I have no way of obtaining a green card unless I marry someone or find a sponsor in this ailing economy (not much of an incentive for an employer to engage in a process that's going to take years and years for completion), the fact that I have to sit here and wait for another two years before my labor certification is approved anyway (or not approved) because I live in a state heavily populated by illegal aliens who applied before me, that I cannot find freedom of employment outside my college major (not a major nearly as H-1b-practical as economics. How was I to know how to tailor my college major toward my future H-1b application??) Despite my ambitions, that the kids I grew up with look at me in bewilderment when I tell them I do not have the mobility that they have-- is just devastating. How could this be? My native tongue is English, acquired through my long-term residence here (my first language is a non-Indo-European language), my memories of childhood lie in the suburbs of a state I currently "exist in" (not legally a resident in) as an alien, and for every juicy start-up company idea or invitation, I have to simply explain that I will not have the freedom to do so until the line gets shorter. In the meantime, I have already taken half a dozen jobs that barely exceed the prevailing wage... some employers take advantage of the fact that I am in no position to challenge my wages.

There are amnesties for illegal aliens, and there are TPS programs for nationals of certain countries. People with criminal records file "waivers" if a problem arises. Corporate executives obtain green cards in less than a year, since they file through EB-1 and do not have to deal with the grueling Labor Certification process. People win green cards through a "lottery". Family-based immigration guidelines allow permanent residents to sponsor family members that have never seen the US nor have any allegiance to it.

So, we have a great range of options for obtaining a green card... and somehow someone like me does not qualify. My allegiance to the country, my longtime residence, my education and cultural fluency, the impeccable English I acquired upon my arrival in this country... none of these even count as factors.

I understand the U.S.'s acceptance of immigrants from a multitude of languages and cultures, and I applaud its efforts to accommodate those who are coming to seek better lives here. However, in the process, it has created a system that has largely ignored people like myself- long-term residents who have been schooled in this country, who identify themselves as "American", yet have no path towards applying for a green card. Moreover, the green card predates citizenship by five years, so it will be another five more years from that point, whenever that point in time is, that I will have residence and citizenship consistent with my identity.

I think it is of utmost importance that U.S. immigration law keeps its arms open towards those who, in appreciation of the U.S.'s generous acceptance of newcomers (or without choice, because they grew up here as a child and know no other identity), have demonstrated their adherence to its laws and standards.

More than once I have been cat-called by non-English speakers on the street who somehow obtained a green card to work (or not work!), and I've run into plenty of cab drivers (green card holders) who'd filed through amnesties for illegal workers, lived here for decades and spoke almost no English because they have had very limited contact with people outside their own ethnic group. I also personally know people who came into this country with a strong negative political opinion of the US... because they won the green card lottery and figured they might be financially better off. I feel that the system is jeering at me. I mention these things because I personally find this situation questionable; yet again I realize that many who read this publication find the above perfectly reasonable, and in such a case I will just say: well, sure, I'm glad that a variety of people find a way to reside here. However, where is the path for the long-term resident alien with no criminal record or illegal stay, whose self-proclaimed identity is no other than "American"??

So there are two questions I would like to pose: 1. Will US immigration continue to exclude one's long-term residence and sense of identity and belonging (categorizing oneself as "American") from the dialogue? And 2. How do you justify such an outrageous immigration system?

Name Not Supplied

An Important disclaimer! The information provided on this page is not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers must not act upon any information without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney. Send Correspondence and articles to Letters and articles may be edited and may be published and otherwise used in any medium. Opinions expressed in letters and articles do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

Editorial Advisory Board
Marc Ellis, Gary Endelman

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