Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘CIR’

22nd March 2010

The authors of this blog keep a close eye upon pending legislation in both the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America. Vigilance must be maintained in order to be fully aware of all of the current Immigration policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and laws in both countries. This blog has repeatedly reported on issues involving same-sex couples seeking United States Immigration benefits as this poses one of the most politically pressing and legally confusing issues of United States Immigration at this time.

Currently, the United States Congress is debating legislation that would attempt to tackle some of the major problems in the area of US Immigration. Recently a bill was introduced that would reform current American Immigration law with regard to refugees. Some feel that an even more pressing piece of legislation is that which would provide comprehensive immigration reform in the USA.

Same Sex Immigration issues have been dealt with in separate proposed legislation called the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), but there are those who hope that a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill will eventually include immigration benefits for same sex couples. A very popular website and blog, Immigration, has been posting updates regarding the situation in Washington D.C. where marchers will be falling upon the US Capital to demand Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation. Most notable, is the fact that among the marchers LGBT rights activists are campaigning for equal rights in the US immigration process. To quote Immigration Equality’s blog directly:

“In the midst of the tens of thousands rallying for reform, a contingent of 300 to 500 people will on hand, with rainbow flags in hand, to bring attention to the struggles of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) immigrants and their families. And before they set their first foot on the grassy lawn off Constitution Avenue, their presence is already being felt and making change.”

The blog added a personal touch to its report of this demonstration:

“[Laurie] Larson will be marching with the Immigration Equality contingent in honor of her close friend Steve – an American citizen – whose partner of nearly a decade, Joe, was recently forced to leave the country after losing his job and, by extension, his work visa, too. Had Steve been in a heterosexual relationship, he could have married his partner and they would have qualified for residency. But because Steve and Joe are both male, that option doesn’t exist for them. Under current U.S. immigration law, Steve cannot sponsor Joe for residency simply because they are gay.”

The idea that an American Citizen, who could legally marry a foreign national of the same sex in some US jurisdictions, cannot obtain a US family based visa for their same sex loved one definitely smacks of inequality where the same American could petition for visa benefits for their loved one if the loved one was of a different sex. That being said, these issues have yet to be played out and there are some who believe that the issues of same sex family based immigration will likely be dealt with in the US Courts as the Defense of Marriage Act‘s (DOMA) constitutionality is currently being challenged by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

For information on US Immigration in general please see: US Visa Thailand.

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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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17th September 2009

Congress is set to end their recess soon and one of the important issues that will be on the legislative agenda is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In the last Congressional session, this important legislation was sidelined by other important issues such as Health Care Reform and issues the impact of Americans upon the environment. To quote Immigration Impact: Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), “has grown increasingly complex, partisan, and ideological, the chances of completing CIR legislation before 2009 ends further diminish. That’s not to say, however, that nothing is happening.”

One of the major obstacles in getting a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill through Congress is the fact that it is, well…so…Comprehensive. What I mean to say is: Comprehensive Immigration Reform would require a complete overhaul of the Immigration system which impacts many political factions and such an overhaul is bound to have detractors and proponents of each facet effected.

For example, in the realm of United States Family immigration, there are some who believe that the minimum 6 to 7 month wait to bring a foreign fiancee or spouse to the United States is far too much time to wait. One proposed solution to this problem is: allowing non-immigrant dual intent family visa to be filed directly at the Embassy or Consulate overseas. The K1 visa and the K3 visa are dual intent non-immigrant visas which means that the visa holder can intend to both go to the US temporarily and simultaneously have the intent to remain long term.  Those entering the United States on one of these visas will eventually need to adjust status to permanent residence. At that time, the officers at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service will adjudicate whether or not the applicant should be accorded lawful permanent resident status. The current Immigration situation begs the question: how does pre-authorizing K1 and K3 non-immigrants add value to the US Immigration Process? The system, at the very least, seems redundant.

A likely result of Comprehensive Immigration Reform will be a large backlog of cases involving undocumented aliens in the United States of America. The current resources used to pre-authorize K1 and K3 visas could be rediverted to adjudicating cases of undocumented aliens while those seeking K1 and K3 visas could begin filing directly with the United States Consular posts abroad. The argument that preapproval is necessary for Immigrant visas (such as the IR1 and CR1 visa) rings a bit more true since those entering the United States on this visa receive permanent residence upon entry.

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28th August 2009

As many people around the globe have no doubt heard, the venerable Senator Kennedy recently passed away. We on this blog would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to his family as they mourn his death. The loss of Senator Kennedy is something of a setback for the immigrant rights movement as he was a staunch supporter of many initiatives aimed at helping those who had immigrated to the United States of America. To quote an email sent out by the American Immigration Law Foundation:

Senator Kennedy was the driving force behind every significant piece of immigration legislation over the past 40-plus years. Most recently, Senator Kennedy co-authored a comprehensive immigration reform bill which failed to pass in 2007. Upon its defeat Senator Kennedy said, “Immigration reform is an opportunity to be true to our ideals as a nation. Our Declaration of Independence announces that all of us are created equal. Today, we failed to live up to that declaration for millions of men and women who live, work, and worship beside us. But our ideals are too strong to be held back for long.”

With an impending debate upon the future course of American Immigration policy one wonders if the loss of Mr. Kennedy will have an impact upon the ultimate outcome of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Senator Kennedy was an ardent defender of same sex couples. Senator Kennedy took many stands in support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Trans gender (LGBT) community.To quote another website:

“In the 1990′s Kennedy became the clear Senate leader in the fight to end discrimination against members of the LGBT community, and to fund programs for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. He was also one of the very few senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).”

As we have mentioned previously on this blog, one of the interesting issues involved in the current debate about US Immigration Reform is that of same sex couples who are currently barred from reuniting with loved ones due to the fact that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) precludes Federal acknowledgment of their relationship. This means that a same sex couple who validly marries  and tries to obtain Immigration benefits will be denied because DOMA does not recognize their marriage, even if the marriage occurred in a US state which recognizes same sex marriage (like Massachusetts). Further, under current legislation the same sex couple cannot obtain a K1 visa if the underlying intention is to marry in the US.

Mr. Kennedy’s death is sad, but his spirit lives on in the continued debates about Immigration reform.

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22nd August 2009

As the Obama Administration continues to put together a cogent piece of Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation, immigrant communities in the United States of America are becoming more politically active in an effort to make their views regarding the Immigration situation known.

One immigrant group of particular interest is that of first and second generation Asian-Americans. The blog Immigration Impact recently discussed the political clout that these Asian groups are beginning to harness:

“According to the Asian American Justice Center, there are currently more than 15 million Asian Americans residing in the United States—the majority of whom are foreign born and thus have firsthand knowledge of our woefully outdated immigration system. Countless Asians are caught in the family immigration backlogs and remain separated from close family members, and there are more than 1 million undocumented Asians in the U.S. today. Because the broken immigration system affects them in such a personal way, many in the Asian American community are banding together this week to attend town hall meetings with members of Congress, hold press conferences and petition lawmakers to fix our currently broken immigration system that restricts due process rights, breaks up families, and ultimately hurts the economy.”

The United States Embassy in Thailand processes a large number of US visa cases each year. Among the many US family based petitions are those for the K1 visa and Immigrant visas based upon an I-130 application and these are probably the most popular American visa categories.  The people entering on these types of visas eventually take up Permanent Residence either through adjustment of status or upon entry as an intending immigrant. Once stateside, many of these Thai immigrants in the United States eventually go on the naturalize as United States Citizens. These immigrants and their children have something of a unique opinion regarding immigration reform and as such it is most likely a net positive if they enter the public discourse on this important issue.

As Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States, Asian American Immigrants probably account for a disproportionately large number of family based petitions in lower preference categories. A result of this situation is the fact that many of these families remain apart for long periods of time due to the quotas set on the various immigrant visa categories and the large caseload being processed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Hopefully, Comprehensive Immigration Reform will untie the Gordian Knot of US Immigration for these separated families while at the same time assuring that America is safe and secure.

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17th August 2009

There appears to be growing frustration among many groups who supported President Barack Obama when he was campaigning for the White House. During his bid for the Presidency, Mr. Obama was quite vocal about the need to reform the current immigration system in the United States of America. However, as Mr. Obama’s Presidency has begun as a very busy administration, Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) has seemed to have been shunted to the “back burner.”

In a recent web posting entitled, “Obama Pushes Immigration Reform to 2010, Jokes About Being Called ‘an Illegal Immigrant’” the author, Diego Graglia,wrote:

“Obama added he can’t get immigration reform passed on his own. “It’s important that people realize that things don’t happen because the President snaps his fingers. I can’t do all this by myself,” he said. He asked that grassroots groups continue to organize and mobilize for reform and that members of Congress face the political risks involved.”

Although it is correct that the President cannot solve all political problems by snapping his fingers, this comment does beg the question: then what can he do? Certainly it takes more than simply snapping one’s fingers, but at the same time the President wields a great deal of hard, soft, indirect legislative, and overt executive power. Certainly, he of all people could at least attempt to bring about some sort of compromise measure that would not require as much political capital.

At the same time, there are those who argue that Obama has too many current problems to deal with and Immigration reform is an issue that should be dealt with when the President has enough time to devote his full attention to this incredibly important issue. With the economy only beginning to show signs of recovery and foreign commitments to sort out, the President has many urgent and pressing problems to deal with. However, many have argued that Immigration reforms are more important as Immigration problems have an impact upon both the domestic economy and foreign policy.

An issue that is increasingly becoming entangled with Comprehensive Immigration Reform is that of US Immigration benefits for same sex couples. There are some who believe that United States Immigration benefits for same sex bi-national couples will likely be dealt with in provisions of CIR legislation. It is too soon to tell, but it seems logical that if Comprehensive Immigration Reform is considered to be a secondary issue, then Immigration benefits for same-sex couples may get short shrift as well, at least for now.

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