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Immigration Reform: Is it really coming?

Immigration Reform: Is it really coming?

Question: I have heard that there is going to be immigration reform. Can you shed some light on the subject and what we might expect?

Answer: Conservatives have tended to oppose immigration reform and amnesty for undocumented workers. Prominent Republicans, however, have recently come out in support of massive immigration overhauls. We could speculate as to why this is the case, but suffice it to say, immigration is on the table and both sides are talking.

At a Jan. 29 event in Las Vegas, President Barack Obama called for broad changes to the nation’s immigration laws. President Obama said the following:

“The time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform. … I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix the system that’s been broken for way too long. I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity.”

Obama’s immigration reform proposal includes providing undocumented workers a path to citizenship, a requirement for employers to check workers’ immigration status as well as stiffer penalties for those who break immigration law.

Although in the past many GOP lawmakers have been reluctant to support immigration reform, the tides may be changing. The immigration reform tide turned once and for all on Nov. 6, 2012. The elections produced a mandate for immigration reform and now it is time to act.

The 2013 State of the Union address and the President’s call for comprehensive immigration reform led to one of the only bipartisan standing ovations. Although the anti-immigrant movement has always been loud … their influence today is much diminished. Meanwhile, the power of the immigration reform movement is growing every day in depth and breadth.

A growing number of conservatives, including Tea Party lawmakers, religious groups and conservative media leaders, are part of the growing momentum calling for comprehensive immigration reform.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said in an interview with Politico after the 2012 elections that he plans to pursue measures that have long been avoided by his party, including carving an immigration plan with an “eventual path” to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Many Republicans are beginning to question the sources for their information on the economic and social impacts of immigration.

Question: What can we do to help?

Answer: At this point since the ball is finally rolling after the draconian 1996 Anti-immigration bill, it is time to let your representatives know you support immigration reform and to keep the pressure on to move forward. Call, e-mail, write and speak out. You can do it tactfully and methodically, but the more the congressional representatives know that their constituents are behind them with immigration reform, the more likely we will have a new and complete comprehensive immigration reform bill.​

Immigration Reform may be on the Horizon!

Assistant Attorney General Tony West Speech on State Immigration Laws

DOJ speech transcript from Assistant Attorney General Tony West’s speech at the American Constitution Society Sou

January 2011 Migration Policy Institute report

A January 2011 Migration Policy Institute report that assesses the implementation, outcomes, costs, and community impacts of the 287(g) program, which enables state and local officers to directly enforce federal immigration law and is now operating in 72 jurisdictions.

Preparation of Asylum Application

How to prepare an Asylum Application – Avvo.com http://ping.fm/1mlAo

2002 Immigration Highlights

 Question: I understand that there are usually a lot of immigration laws that pass and either help or hurt immigrants. Now that we are in 2003, can you give a summary of some of the highlights of immigration regulations which were considered or passed in 2002?

ANSWER: The regulations issued during the 107th Congressional session have an immediate effect on foreign workers’ ability to obtain visas, enter, and remain in the United States in valid status. Human resources personnel should therefore expect to receive numerous questions about the scope of these new rules. The following is a brief overview of some of the more important immigration-related and business immigration-related regulations the INS and other agencies issued during the past year:

The Department of State raised Fees for Nonimmigrant Visa Processing: The State Department raised the machine-readable visa (MRV) fee charged for the processing of a nonimmigrant visa, or a combined nonimmigrant visa and border crossing card application, from $65 to $100, effective November 1.

Special Registration: The INS, on August 12, finalized a rule that requires certain nonimmigrants to undergo various registration processes, and imposes sanctions on those who do not follow the processes. Four groups so far have been ordered to Special Register.

Change of Address Notification: A July 26 INS proposed rule would require every applicant for immigration benefits to acknowledge having received notice that he or she is required to provide a valid current address to the Service, including any change of address, within 10 days of the change. In absentia removal orders could flow from failure to so provide.

Concurrent Filing: A July 31 INS interim rule provides that an Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker (Form I-140) and an Adjustment of Status application (Form I-485) may now be filed concurrently when a visa number is immediately available. In addition, eligible individuals with I-140 petitions pending on July 31 may now file the I-485 and associated forms. The rule took effect upon publication.

Proposed PERM Rule on Labor Certification for Permanent Employment: The DOL, on May 6, published the proposed ‘PERM’ rule that would amend the agency’s regulations governing the filing and processing of labor certification applications for permanent employment in the U.S. The rule would also amend the regulations governing an employer’s wage obligation under the H-1B program. The final PERM rule is expected to be published in April 2003 and to take effect in July.

Foreign Health Care Workers: An October 11 INS proposed rule would implement a process for the certification of certain foreign health care workers, and would add a requirement that all nonimmigrants coming to the U.S. to work as health care workers, including those seeking change of status, be required to submit a certification. This rule is not yet in effect.

B-2 Visitors Visa: An April 12 INS proposed rule would eliminate the minimum admission period for B-2 nonimmigrant visitors, reduce the maximum admission period for B-1 and B-2 visitors, and restrict B visitors’ ability to extend stay or change to student status. This rule is not yet in effect.

Adjustment of Status under LIFE: The INS issued a final rule on June 4, implementing the adjustment of status application procedures under the LIFE Act’s ‘late legalization’ provisions. The rule extends the filing deadline to June 4, 2003, and makes various other changes based on comments received to the interim rule.

S Nonimmigrant Visa: The State Department, on November 4, finalized a rule implementing the ‘S’ nonimmigrant visa program. The S visa category is available to nonimmigrants determined by the Attorney General to have critical and reliable information concerning a criminal organization or enterprise.

Passenger Manifest Requirements: On January 3, 2003, the INS issued a proposed rule requiring all commercial carriers to submit a detailed passenger manifest electronically before either departing from or arriving in the United States. The information required for each passenger includes: complete name, date of birth, citizenship, sex, passport number and country of issuance, country of residence, U.S. visa information, address while in the U.S; and other necessary information. The rule took affect January 1, 2003.

Border Crossing Cards: The INS promulgated an interim rule that establishes procedures to terminate the use of current non-biometric border crossing cards (BCCs), eliminates certain former versions of BCCs, and clarifies the validity period of waivers of inadmissibility. The rule took effect retroactive to October 1.

State and Local Law Enforcement of Civil Violations of Immigration Law: The Justice Department, on July 24, finalized a rule permitting the Attorney General to authorize any state or local law enforcement officer, with the consent of those whose jurisdiction the individual is serving, to perform certain functions related to the enforcement of the immigration laws during the period of a declared “mass influx of aliens.”

As you can see there are lots of changes in the law. Hopefully, the new laws coming will have a positive impact on immigrants.


Question: I have different petitions going through for my family. Other relatives are unfortunately in Removal/Deportation Proceedings. I understand that government is planning on restructuring certain departments. Will they restructure INS, and if so, what does that mean for us?

Answer: It appears as though either some or all of INS will be part of the new cabinet level division of the government. It will be known as Homeland Security. However, if it is done in a rash manner without giving the immigrants their rights, then it will hurt those immigrants trying to get her legally and to become legal in the future.

An effective, efficient, and fair immigration system is crucial to our national security and is fundamental to which we are as a people and as a nation of immigrants. Our immigration system must be reorganized. Our immigration system needs to be restructured on the basis of longstanding principles outlined by lawmakers, policy experts, and immigrant advocates.

These principles include: coordinating the separated enforcement and service functions, placing a strong leader in charge of both functions, and adequately funding enforcement and services.

If our immigration functions are included in the new Homeland Security Department, they must be reorganized within a separate division headed by a strong leader.

Question: What exactly will this new department do?

It is unclear at this time exactly what will happen and when it will happen. However, a new division, Immigration Services and Security, should be created within the Department of Homeland Security, headed by an Undersecretary who is knowledgeable about both services and enforcement. Immigration Services and Security should be made up of three sections: Immigration Services, Border Security, and Interior Security.

To enhance our security and support our border functions, a Transportation and Commercial Goods Security division also should be created. This division, along with the Immigration Services and Security division, would replace the proposed Border and Transportation Security Division.

The proposed Homeland Security Department must address concerns about civil rights, oversight, privacy, due process, and visa processing. The new agency must include an office to ensure that the constitutional and civil rights of all persons are protected as the agency carries out its national security mandates.

Policy development for visa issuance needs to remain a function of the State Department to avoid the chaos that would result from separating policy and process and to best address our foreign policy and U.S. business interests.

The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) must remain outside of the Department of Homeland Security, and be constituted as an independent agency in order to guarantee the impartiality and checks and balances of our justice system. Otherwise, it will be as though the Prosecutor is both the opposing attorney and the judge on the same case.

In order for any reform to be effective, Congress must take the time to get it right, overhaul our immigration laws, and protect both our nation and our values and traditions.

Creating a Department of Homeland Security is an enormous undertaking, and Congress must take the time to get it right. We cannot afford the mistakes and oversights of a hasty examination. There is too much at stake.

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