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Posts Tagged ‘US Immigration News’

9th January 2011

Those who keep up with the news in the United States of America may have seen recent news reports regarding the recent shooting of a United States Representative and Federal District Court Judge. To quote directly from the website Indianexpress.com:

Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and 18 others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Giffords was meeting with constituents.

Six of the victims died, among them John M Roll, the chief judge for the United States District Court for Arizona, and a nine-year-old girl…

It seems as if the shootings were motivated by the suspected gunman’s opposition to the political and legal positions held by some of the victims with respect to United States Immigration policy. To quote Indianexpress.com further:

The shootings raised questions about potential political motives, with Pima County Sheriff Clarence W Dupnik blaming “the toxic political environment in Arizona”.

Giffords, who represents the Eighth District in Arizona, has been an outspoken critic of the state’s tough immigration law, which is focused on identifying, prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants, and she had come under criticism for her vote in favour of the health care law. Friends said she had received threats over the years.

Generally, immigration issues are considered somewhat mundane by those who are interested in American policy, but the American immigration debate has grown increasingly intense since the State of Arizona recently passed controversial legislation aimed at stemming the inflow of illegal and/or undocumented immigrants entering the State of Arizona by way of the international border between the United States of America and its southern neighbor Mexico. To quote directly from an article in the New York Times from April 2010:

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants. The move unleashed immediate protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally. Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.

It is interesting to note that American Presidents rarely ever even comment upon legislation passed at the State level as State legislation is often viewed as being within the exclusive bailiwick of State authorities. However, there are strong arguments that Arizona’s passage of the aforementioned legislation represents an infringement upon the Federal government’s right to set and maintain United States Immigration policy. The New York Times’ article went on to note further:

The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

The Arizona law represents an interesting controversy from a legal perspective as fundamental Constitutional issues such as Separation of Powers and Federalism are directly impacted by the enactment and subsequent enforcement of this law. The tragic aspect of this situation is that the immigration issue is one which could, and arguably should, be solved through the legislative process and reasoned debate. The fact that American immigration policy may be at the source of the recent shootings is tragic due to the loss of life. Also, it is likely that this shooting will exacerbate an already heated debate on the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the enforcement of US Immigration law in general.

For related information on American immigration please see: I-601 waiver or Department of Homeland Security.

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11th October 2010

The issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is frequently discussed on this blog as it could be one of the most significant issues of the forthcoming legislative sessions as so many individuals could be impacted by changes to the laws upon which the American Immigration system is based. With that in mind, this author discovered an interesting question and answer session between members of the American press and President Barack Obama. The following is a direct quotation from the transcript of this Q & A session as posted upon the American Immigration Lawyers Association website. To quote the transcript and the President directly:

I have consistently, even before I was a presidential candidate, but when I was a U.S. senator and when I was running for U.S. senator, said that we have to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.

Bill Richardson and I have had a lot of conversations about this. This is a nation of immigrants. It was built on immigrants — immigrants from every corner of the globe who brought their talent and their drive and their energy to these shores because this was the land of opportunity. Now, we’re also a nation of laws so we’ve got to make sure that our immigration system is orderly and fair. And so I think Americans have a legitimate concern if the way we’ve set up our immigration system and the way we are securing our borders is such where people just kind of come and go as they please, well, that means that folks who are waiting, whether it’s in Mexico City or in Nairobi, Kenya, or in Warsaw, Poland — if they’re waiting there filling out their forms and doing everything legally and properly and it takes them five years or six years or 10 years before they’re finally here and made legal, well, it’s not fair to them if folks can just come and ignore those laws.

So what we — I think is so important to do is for us to both be a nation of laws and affirm our immigrant traditions. And I think we can do that. So what I’ve said is, look, yes, let’s secure our borders; yes, let’s make sure that the legal immigration system is more fair and efficient than it is right now because if the waiting times were lessened then a lot of people would be more prone to go through a legal route than through an illegal route; let’s make sure that we’re cracking down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers to not pay them overtime or not pay them minimum wage or not give them bathroom breaks; let’s make sure that we’re cracking down on employers to treat all workers fairly. And let’s provide a pathway to citizenship for those who are already here, understanding that they broke the law, so they’re going to have to pay a fine and pay back taxes and I think learn English, make sure that they don’t have a criminal record. There are some hoops that they’re going to have to jump through, but giving them a pathway is the right thing to do.

Now, unfortunately, right now this is getting demagogued. A lot of folks think it’s an easy way to score political points is by trying to act as if there’s a “them” and an “us,” instead of just an “us.” And I’m always suspicious of politics that is dividing people instead of bringing them together. I think now is the time for us to come together. And I think that economically, immigrants can actually be a huge source of strength to the country. It’s one of our big advantages is we’ve got a younger population than Europe, for example, or Japan, because we welcome immigrants and they generally don’t. And that means that our economy is more vital and we’ve got more people in the workforce who are going to be out there working and starting businesses and supporting us when we’re retired, and making sure Social Security is solvent. All those things are important.

So this is a priority that I continue to have. Frankly, the problem I’ve had right now is that — and I don’t want to get into sort of inside baseball by Washington. But basically the rules in the United States Senate have evolved so that if you don’t have 60 votes, you can’t get anything through the United States Senate right now. And several years ago, we had 11 Republican senators who were willing to vote for comprehensive immigration reform, including John McCain. They’ve all reversed themselves. I can’t get any of them to cooperate. And I don’t have 60 Democrats in the Senate.

And so we’re going to have to do this on a bipartisan basis. And my hope is, is that the Republicans who have said no and have seen their party I think use some unfortunate rhetoric around this issue, my hope is, is that they come back and say, you know, this is something that we can work on together to solve a problem instead of trying to score political points. Okay?

One major concern voiced by those making visa petitions and applications outside of the United States is that of the seeming inequities posed by the possibility of some sort of an amnesty for undocumented aliens currently in the United States. Many prospective immigrants feel that it is somewhat unjust to allow those who broke immigration rules at the outset to be granted a benefit while those waiting for their visa petition or application to process through various agencies and Departments are not accorded any special treatment while they assiduously obey relevant American Immigration laws. When one ponders this situation it would seem rather obvious that the current system is in need of reform, but as the President’s remarks imply, the problem is multi-faceted and cannot be solved quickly or easily as so many individuals and organizations have considerable interests which could be effected by a change to current US Immigration laws, regulations, and policies. Hopefully, some sort of framework can be devised which will deal with the plight of undocumented aliens while maintaining some sort of equitable position for those who chose not to travel to the USA without proper documentation.

Meanwhile, there are many who hope that any Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation will address the issues associated with same-sex bi-national couples who wish to enjoy immigration benefits equal to those of their different-sex counterparts. In the past, legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in an effort to remedy the current restrictions imposed by provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but such legislation has yet to be passed by the American Congress. It was recently announced that a bill proposed in the US Senate would address CIR issues and includes language designed to redress the discrimination imposed upon LGBT couples by DOMA. Although it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved many are hopeful that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will redress many of the inequities arising from the current state of US law pertaining to immigration.

For related information please see: Comprehensive Immigration Reform or Same Sex Bi-National Visa.

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1st October 2010

As the previous post on this blog pointed out the issue of LGBT Immigration and the cause of same sex bi-national couples seeking equal rights in the realm of American immigration law has been an issue for some time. It has recently been noted on the lezgetreal.com website that Senator Robert Menendez has introduced a new proposal for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, to quote Melanie Nathan of the aforementioned website directly:

Kathy Drasky from OUT4Immigration, the group responsible for most of the grass root outreach and letter writing campaign announced on the www.Out4Immigration.org blog today that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation that is truly comprehensive – it includes provision for same-sex binational couples.

“This monumental achievement comes after months of phone calls, letters and visits to Congressional representatives and their staffers by Out4Immigration, Immigration Equality and many, many other individuals and groups dedicated to ending immigration discrimination against LGBT Americans with foreign partners or, as we are collectively known, same-sex binational couples.

It remains unclear whether this legislation will ultimately be adopted by the United States Congress and become US law, but introduction of this legislation in combination with two pending cases in the United States Federal Courts drastically increases the odds of seeing at least some form of change in the restrictions imposed upon same sex bi-national couples under the language of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

That said, there are some who feel that passage of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill may not necessarily mean that this current bill’s UAFA-like language will be included in the final draft. As legislation does not become law until final adoption by both the United States Congress and Senate with Presidential approval. Should the President opt to veto the legislation, then there may be no change to the current immigration restrictions placed upon same sex couples (even those legally married in a US jurisdiction) seeking American visa benefits. Furthermore, should the language of this bill change prior to final adoption, then there may be no change to the current circumstances in which many same sex bi-national couples find themselves in. Therefore, until this legislation is fully adopted, it remains likely that supporters of this legislation, as well as opponents, will remain active in promoting their respective causes.

For related information please see: Same Sex marriage visa.

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1st October 2010

Those who follow this blog frequently may take note of the fact that the administration carefully follows the issues associated with LGBT Immigration rights in the United States of America. In a recent posting by Melanie Nathan on the website LezGetReal.com it was noted that LGBT immigration legislation may be introduced in the US Congress quite soon:

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is expected to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation before the Senate adjourns this week for the midterm recess, according to Politico, and a source tells The Advocate that the legislation will be LGBT-inclusive.

In the past, there have been other attempts by Federal legislators to rectify the current legal restrictions placed on LGBT bi-national couples when it comes to the issue of obtaining US Immigration benefits. To continue to quote directly from LezGetReal.com:

There are an estimated 36,000 (minimum the number since the determination in the year 2000 – also not taking account of social media and current increase in internet meeting) Gays and Lesbians who are either American citizens or residents (all referred to as Americans for the purpose of this article,) who are in love and relationship with a foreigner. Gay and lesbians are denied equality under the Federal Immigration laws of this Country, to sponsor same-sex partners or  State recognized spouses for immigration (greencards) to the USA.

LGBT couples (and the appellation LGBT includes Bi-sexual and Transgender couples and individuals as well as Lesbian or Gay couples and individuals) are currently barred from receiving the same family based immigration benefits as different-sex couples. This restriction is imposed pursuant to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA prevents same sex couples (even those lawfully married under state law) from receiving recognition of their marriage in the eyes of the Federal government (and the benefits which may arise therefrom, including immigration benefits such as the K3 visa, CR1 visa, or IR1 visa or in cases where a couple intends to enter into a marriage in the USA: a K1 visa). There are those who argue that application of DOMA violates the doctrine of States’ Rights. At the same time, others point to the violation of the civil rights of the American Citizen (or Lawful Permanent Resident) petitioners whose Constitutional rights may be being violated through continued enforcement of DOMA. That said, the issue remains a highly charged political matter, to quote further from the aforementioned website:

So here we are – a Congress that may well go into lame duck, a Congress that failed to repeal DADT, that showed no compassion for the children of the immigrant DREAM ACT – and a UAFA barely in the conscience of leadership, unknown to mainstream America and also barely in the minds of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers. The question is are we going to be in the Menendez Bill as a pawn, a promise or yet another wedge that will render Immigration Reform impossible in this political climate.

Remember it IS the American who lacks the Equality – and is being discriminated against.  ALL Americans in committed relationships, except gays and lesbians,  have the right to remain in the USA with the person whom they love.

It is not the immigrant per se, who has the right, as immigration is a privilege afforded a foreigner; it is the American who has the right and it is indeed a Civil Right and a Human Rights issue.

The UAFA noted above is an acronym for the Uniting American Families Act, a bill that has, in different forms, been floating around the US Congress for some time. One of the major proponents of this legislation is Representative Jerrold Nadler who has repeatedly supported and introduced legislation which would give equal immigration rights to LGBT couples. It is interesting that the above cited piece brings up the issue of the American Citizen’s rights with regard to US Immigration matters. Although foreign nationals do not necessarily have the same rights under the US Constitution as Citizens there is no doubt that Americans are protected by the provisions of the Constitution. It is this authors opinion that this situation may very well be ultimately decided by the US Courts rather than the US legislature as there are currently two cases pending in two different circuits which could result in the full or partial repeal of DOMA. With regard to immigration, DOMA compels the US Federal government to restrict US family immigration benefits to different-sex couples. Notwithstanding that jurisdictions such as Massachusetts allow same sex marriage. Therefore, the Federal government may be in violation of the “Full Faith and Credit” Clause of the US Constitution by failing to provide equal immigration benefits to same sex couples married in a jurisdiction in the US where such unions are lawful.

Whether the issue of LGBT immigration rights will ultimately be resolved in the US Courts or the US Congress remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the issue has many implications from both a legal and political perspective.

For related information please see: Same Sex Visa.

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16th March 2010

On this blog, we have previously discussed the notion of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Many people feel that the time has come for a complete overhaul of the American Immigration apparatus. It would seem that most groups in the United States feel that a change is necessary, but no one seems to be able to agree about what kind of change needs to occur. Recently, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) made their opinion known in a press release:

“The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed President Obama’s announcement that his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform is unwavering and that he would proceed with an overhaul of the immigration system this year if he could attract necessary Republican support…”

The announcement went on to list the ways in which the organization hopes to see the United States Immigration system reformed:

“AILA believes any effective, long-term solution to the immigration problem must: 1) require the undocumented population to come out of the shadows and earn legal status; 2) ensure that American businesses are able to hire the workers they need to help grow our economy while protecting U.S. workers from unfair competition; 3) reduce the unreasonable and counterproductive backlogs in family-based and employment-based immigration by reforming the permanent immigration system; and 4) protect our national security and the rule of law while preserving and restoring fundamental principles of due process and equal protection.”

Another blog post promulgated on the AILA Leadership blog was somewhat more critical of the recent Presidential announcement:

“[N]ews that Senators Schumer and Graham met with President Obama about immigration reform would have been a whole lot better if they had all committed themselves to actually rolling up their sleeves and getting to the hard work of introducing a bill, rather than just talking about one.”

There seems to be a feeling among many conservatives and liberals that the Immigration reform process is not moving forward at all and any official discussion of immigration issues simply results in political rhetoric. To quote the AILA Leadership blog further:

“True, the President reaffirmed his “unwavering” commitment to comprehensive immigration reform. But he didn’t actually commit the Administration to doing anything about it at this time. Rather, Obama’s carefully worded statement made clear that he will not likely do anything about the broken immigration system until it is politically feasible. As it stands now Congress is embroiled in a nasty partisan fight over health care reform, and not likely to be receptive to an immigration overhaul as the November election nears.”

Many have asked why this blogger writes about CIR in the USA as it will likely have little practical impact upon those seeking US Immigration benefits in Thailand. This author feels that although the family-based immigration system is unlikely to see a great deal of change, Comprehensive Immigration Reform will probably have many repercussions for those processing a visa application from Southeast Asia. If nothing else, the delays caused by processing changes could have a dramatic impact upon the process as a whole.

For further information about US Immigration from Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

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