Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’

28th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a United States Senator introduced legislation designed to engage the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In order to provide further information regarding these developments it may be best to quote directly from the official website of The Nation,

United States Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Republican Leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced legislation encouraging United States officials to initiate Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which presently accounts for the fourth largest export market of the United States. ”I am continuing my efforts to encourage the Obama Administration to announce a comprehensive and long-term strategy toward engaging ASEAN in FTA discussions,” Lugar said…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more on this story.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the ASEAN community is likely to become more economically important in an international context as time passes. Clearly, Senator Richard Lugar’s proposed legislation will have a significant impact upon the trade relations between the United States of America and the countries which make up ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). Assuming appropriate circumstances, it could be surmised that the United States and the ASEAN community could share a strong trade relationship notwithstanding the growing trade between the United States and countries of the so-called BRICS grouping which includes nations such as India and China. Hopefully the business relationship between the US and ASEAN continues to thrive as these issues are discussed among relevant legislators.

In other matters pertaining to the United States Senate, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that this legislative body was also the forum in which a new UAFA-inclusive piece of immigration legislation was introduced. To provide further insight into these events it may be prudent to quote directly from the website

U.S. Senators introduced Wednesday the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 which includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), legislation allowing U.S. nationals to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners for citizenship. The bill, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) alongside Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Kerry (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has a UAFA-inclusive counterpart measure in the House as introduced by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA). LGBT groups including the Immigration Equality Action Fund praised the reintroduction of the legislation…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks note above to read more.

As the struggle for LGBT equality continues, legislation such as that noted above could have a significant positive impact upon the LGBT community. Importantly, the inclusion of language similar to the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a stand alone piece of legislation originally introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler in the House of Representatives, would permit same sex bi-national couples to petition for American family immigration benefits similar to those routinely granted to different sex bi-national couples. Currently, the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude such benefits from same sex couples even if a couple has entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States that legalize and/or solemnize such unions. Hopefully this proposed legislation can gain traction and thereby end the current discrimination imposed upon same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Company Registration or Legal.

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21st April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the official blog of the American White House posted an article regarding Immigration reform. For those who are not familiar with the current debate in the United States regarding immigration there are many factors which touch upon this controversial issue that continues to vex lawmakers and law enforcement officers in virtually all areas associated with visas and immigration. To quote directly from Melody Barnes on the official White House Blog:

As we work toward immigration reform, the Administration will continue to look for ways to improve our legal immigration system, secure the borders, and enhance our enforcement strategy so that it is smarter and more effective at removing criminals and prosecuting unscrupulous employers. But enforcement alone will not solve our immigration problem.  We need reform that affirms our history as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants – and to do that, we need to work together to pass legislation.

Immigration reform has always been a bipartisan issue, and the President believes it can and should be again.  Democrats, Republicans and Independents working together can enact meaningful, lasting reforms and make the right choices for our future.

It should be noted that Melody Barnes is an Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council. The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this blog posting in detail in order to gain some perspective and context on this important issue.

This blogger sincerely hopes that any type of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, would take into consideration those same sex bi-national couples who are currently unable to receive immigration benefits of the same quality as their different sex counterparts pursuant to current policies stemming from the enactment of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). It was recently reported that Representative Jerrold Nadler has reintroduced legislation colloquially referred to as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). This legislation would allow the foreign same sex partner of a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident to receive immigration benefits as a “permanent partner”. As a result, the current restriction on same sex visas could be legally circumvented. Meanwhile, legislation such as the “Respect for Marriage Act” would grant Federal recognition to same sex marriages legalized and solemnized within the jurisdiction of those sovereign States which currently license such unions or in those foreign nations which legalize same sex marriage.

How the overall issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and equal rights for the LGBT community will ultimately play out has yet to be discerned, but hopefully through prudent leadership this issue can be dealt with to the benefit of all concerned.

For related information please see: Legal.


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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

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 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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5th November 2010

As the recent mid-term elections dealt something of a blow to the Democrats in the United States Senate and a significant setback for said party in the United States House of Representatives many are pondering the future of legislation such as UAFA (Uniting American Families Act). Those unfamiliar with LGBT Immigration issues should note that under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex bi-national couples are not permitted equal access to US family visa benefits even in cases where the same sex couple has legally solemnized a marriage within a jurisdiction of the USA. Due to the fact that bi-national LGBT couples still cannot receive equal immigration rights compared to their different-sex counterparts many couples are left separated from their loved one(s), sometimes by great distances. Other websites are noticeably vocal about their opinions regarding the future of UAFA, the past strategies utilized by LGBT Immigration Rights activists, and the future tactics that may be employed in the quest to see bi-national same-sex couples receive the same immigration benefits as different-sex couples. To quote directly from the website

The Uniting American Families Act was introduced into Congress during January of 2009, by Rep. Jerold Nadler, D, NY.  Since that time there have been more co-sponsors than any other LGBT equality legislation on record.  Yet instead of pursuing UAFA as a stand alone Bill – with the fervor and impetus provided by the June 03, 2009 hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rachel Tiven, of Immigration Equality turned its limited resources to Immigration Reform and has spent the past 18 months chasing Comprehensive Immigration Reform for the longest time when it did not even exist. Now we have been included in the Menendez Senate version – but so what? Who in heavens name imagines Immigration Reform with Amnesty in it passing through the new Congress? And it is way to complicated and far behind to get through during the lame duck. I assure you of that!

The aforementioned website is often quite vocal in its support for LGBT Immigration rights. It would seem that some feel as though UAFA should not necessarily be pursued within the context of a broader Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. This is likely due to the fact that Immigration reform remains a very controversial issue and some LGBT-rights advocates feel that pursuing a unilateral strategy of seeking equal equal rights for same-sex bi-national couples outside of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) would be more effective than trying to pass CIR with UAFA-like language included since CIR may not pass at all. Bearing this in mind the reader should note that the website made a clarification regarding their overall strategy for securing equal rights for same sex bi-national couples:

Our philosophy has always been the same. We will pursue every available option for ending discrimination against our families. When we opened our Washington, D.C., office last year, we were clear: When it comes to passing UAFA, we mean business. Since then, our policy team has been working around the clock on a strategy that builds support for UAFA either as a stand-alone bill, or as part of comprehensive immigration reform. If Congress tackles comprehensive legislation – and it offers the first opportunity to win – we want to be part of that bill. And if the political reality becomes one that presents an opportunity to pass UAFA on its own, we want to be prepared to seize that opportunity as well.

It will be interesting to see what will happen to UAFA in the upcoming “lame duck” legislative session. There are some who would argue that a “lame duck” Democratic Congressional session is the perfect environment for pursuing UAFA as a stand alone piece of legislation since there are presumably still many supporters of such a policy on Capitol Hill who may have little to lose politically by supporting such legislation. As the future of UAFA has yet to be determined, but the plight of many same-sex bi-national couples remains untenable under the current circumstances.

It should also be noted that the US Congress is not the only forum in which this issue may ultimately be decided as the US Courts, and possibly the United States Supreme Court may be the body that ends up adjudicating this issue since the lower Courts’ hearing of cases challenging the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

For related information please see: Same Sex Visa or K1 visa.

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13th October 2010

ประเด็นเรื่องการปฏิรูปการเข้าเมือง (CIR) เป็นเรื่องที่ได้รับการกล่าวถึงในบล็อกนี้อยู่หลายครั้งซึ่งเป็นประเด็นที่สำคัญของช่วงการร่างกฎหมายที่กำลังจะมาถึงนี้ บางคนได้รับผลกระทบจากการอนุมัติเป็นกฎหมายตามระบบของการเข้าเมืองอเมริกัน สิ่งที่พึงระลึกถึงคือ ผู้เขียนพบคำถามและคำตอบที่น่าสนใจระหว่างสมาชิกของสื่อมวลชนอเมริกันและประธานาธิบดี บารัค โอบามา สิ่งที่อ้างถึงข้างล่างนี้คัดลอกมาจากบันทึกการถามตอบ (Q&A) ซึ่งโพสต์ในเว็บไซต์สมาคมทนายความคนเข้าเมืองอเมริกัน

อ้างตามบันทึกดังนี้ :

ก่อนที่ผมจะเป็นผู้สมัครประธานาธิบดี แต่อยู่ในขณะที่ผมเป็นวุฒิสมาชิกและเมื่อสมัครเพื่อรับตำแหน่งเป็นวุฒิสมาชิก ผมมักกล่าวอยู่เสมอว่า พวกเราต้องก้าวไปสู่การปฏิรูปการเข้าเมือง

บิล ริชาร์ดสันและผมได้พูดคุยกันหลายครั้งเกี่ยวกับเรื่องนี้ นี่คือชาติของผู้อพยพซึ่งถูกสร้างโดยผู้อพยพ ผู้อพยพจากทั่วทุกมุมโลกนั้นนำความสามารถ การขับเคลื่อน พลังมาสู่ดินแดนแห่งโอกาสนี้ และเรายังเป็นชาติที่มีกฎระเบียบที่จะทำให้ระบบเข้าเมืองนั้นเป็นไปตามขั้นตอนและเป็นไปอย่างถูกต้องยุติธรรม และผมคิดว่า ชาวอเมริกันตระหนักถึงเรื่องนี้ที่จะทำให้ระบบการเข้าเมืองและการรักษาความมั่นคงในดินแดนที่มีคนเข้ามาและออกไปตามความปรารถนา รวมความไปถึงคนพื้นเมืองที่รอคอยอยู่ในเม็กซิโก หรือไนโรบี เคนยา หรือวอร์ซอว์ โปแลนด์ ถ้าคนเหล่านั้นกรอกแบบฟอร์มและทำทุกอย่างเป็นไปตามกฎหมาย ใช้เวลา ห้าปี หกปี หรือ สิบปีก่อนที่พวกเขาจะเข้ามาที่นี้และทำให้เป็นไปตามกฎหมาย มันเป็นการไม่ยุติธรรมที่คนพื้นเมืองจะเข้ามาและเพิกเฉยต่อกฎระเบียบบ้านเมือง

ผมคิดว่า เป็นสิ่งที่สำคัญสำหรับพวกเราที่จะเป็นประเทศชาติที่รักษากฎระเบียบและยึดมั่นในประเพณีคนเข้าเมืองของพวกเรา ปกป้องเขตแดนของเรากันเถอะ มาทำให้ระบบคนเข้าเมืองที่ถูกกฎหมายนั้นมีความเป็นธรรมและมีประสิทธิภาพมากขึ้น หากเวลาที่ใช้ในการรอคอยนั้นลดลง คนส่วนมากมีแนวโน้มที่จะเข้ามาในเส้นทางที่ถูกกฎหมายมากกว่าเส้นทางที่ผิดกฎหมาย มาทำให้แน่ใจกันเถอะว่า พวกเราได้จัดการกับนายจ้างที่เอาผลประโยชน์จากแรงงานที่ไม่มีเอกสารในการไม่จ่ายค่าล่วงเวลา หรือไม่จ่ายค่าแรงขั้นต่ำหรือไม่ให้ลูกจ้างพักเข้าห้องน้ำ มาทำให้แน่ใจว่า เราได้จัดการให้นายจ้างปฏิบัติอย่างเป็นธรรม มาเตรียมวิธีการที่จะทำให้พลเมืองที่อยู่ที่นี่มีความเข้าใจที่ว่า หากพวกเขาละเมิดกฎหมาย เขาต้องจ่ายค่าปรับและจ่ายภาษีย้อนหลัง ผมคิดว่า การเรียนรู้ภาษาอังกฤษจะช่วยทำให้ไม่มีประวัติคดีอาญา แม้จะมีช่องทางที่ช่วยหลีกเลี่ยง แต่การที่จะไปสู่วิธีการตามกฎหมายนั้นเป็นสิ่งที่ถูกต้องที่ควรกระทำ

เป็นที่น่าเสียดาย ปัจจุบันมีการปลุกปั่น คนพื้นเมืองจำนวนมากคิดว่าเป็นวิธีที่ง่ายที่จะทำคะแนนทางการเมืองโดยพยายามที่จะเป็นพวกเขาและพวกเรา แทนที่จะเป็นแค่พวกเรา และผมมีประเด็นทางการเมืองที่น่าสงสัยว่า เป็นการแบ่งแยกแทนที่จะรวมกลุ่มกัน ผมคิดว่า เป็นเวลาที่จะร่วมมือกัน และผมคิดว่า ผู้อพยพเป็นทรัพยากรที่สำคัญทางเศรษฐกิจในการที่จะสร้างความเข้มแข็งแก่ประเทศ เป็นประโยชน์อย่างยิ่งที่พวกเรามีประชากรที่เยาว์วัยกว่ายุโรป หรือญี่ปุ่น เพราะพวกเราต้อนรับผู้อพยพ และนั่นหมายถึงเศรษฐกิจมีความสำคัญมากขึ้นและเรามีคนมากขึ้นในการที่จะทำงานและเริ่มต้นทำธุรกิจและสนับสนุนพวกเราในเวลาที่พวกเราปลดเกษียณ และทำให้ระบบประกันสังคมมีเงินที่เพียงพอ ทั้งหมดที่กล่าวมานี้เป็นสิ่งที่สำคัญ

นี่เป็นเรื่องที่สำคัญ ตามความเป็นจริงแล้ว ปัญหาที่เกิดขึ้นอยู่ในปัจจุบัน และผมก็ไม่ต้องการเป็นเหมือนเกาะติดเบสบอลโดยวอชิงตัน แต่โดยหลักแล้วกฎของวุฒิสภาสหรัฐนั้นมีการเปลี่ยนแปลงอยู่เสมอ ถ้าไม่มีเสียงสนับสนุน 60 เสียง กฎหมายนั้นก็จะไม่ผ่านวุฒิสภาสหรัฐ หลายปีที่ผ่านมาวุฒิสมาชิกของรีพลับบลิกัน 11 คนที่จะลงคะแนนให้กับการปฏิรูปการเข้าเมือง รวมทั้งจอห์น แมคเคลน พวกเขากลับความเห็นของพวกเขา และในวุฒิสภาไม่ได้รับคะแนนเสียงจากเดโมแครต 60 เสียง

และพวกเรากำลังจะต้องอยู่บนพื้นฐานของสองขั้วพรรคการเมือง และความหวังของผมคือ รีพลับบลิกันผู้ที่บอกปฏิเสธ ผมคิดว่า การใช้วาทศิลป์ท่ามกลางสถานการณ์ ในการที่จะให้พวกเขากลับมาและพูดว่า ทำงานด้วยกันเพื่อจะแก้ปัญหาแทนที่พยายามจะทำคะแนนทางการเมือง โอเค?

สิ่งที่ต้องตระหนักถึงในการยื่นคำขอวีซ่านอกสหรัฐอเมริกา ซึ่งดูเหมือนจะเป็นการไม่เสมอภาคที่จะมีการนิรโทษกรรมแก่ชาวต่างชาติที่ไม่มีเอกสารในสหรัฐอเมริกา มุมมองของผู้อพยพนั้นอาจจะมองว่าไม่เป็นธรรมที่จะอนุญาตให้ผู้ที่ละเมิดกฎมีสิทธิได้รับสิทธิประโยชน์ในขณะที่รอการดำเนินการวีซ่าจากหลายหน่วยงานและกระทรวงต่างๆซึ่งไม่เกี่ยวกับการปฏิบัติที่เป็นพิเศษ พวกเขาต้องยึดตามกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองอย่างเคร่งครัด ระบบในปัจจุบันจำเป็นต้องมีการปฏิรูป ประธานาธิบดีได้บอกเป็นนัยๆ ปัญหานี้มีหลายแง่มุมและไม่สามารถแก้ได้อย่างรวดเร็วและง่ายดายซึ่งเป็นสิ่งที่หลายๆคนและองค์กรอื่นๆตระหนักถึงการเปลี่ยนแปลงกฎหมาย กฎระเบียบและนโยบายของคนเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกา หวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า กรอบการทำงานนี้จะสามารถจัดการกับชาวววต่างชาติที่ไม่มีเอกสาร ในขณะเดียวกันยังคงต้องรักษาความเสมอภาคของผู้ที่เลื่อกที่จะไม่เดินทางเข้ามายังสสหรัฐอเมริกาโดยไม่มีเอกสารที่ถูกต้อง

ในขณะเดียวกัน หลายๆคนหวังว่า กระบวนการตราการปฏิรูปการเข้าเมืองจะสามารถจัดการกับคู่เพศเดียวกันที่เป็นคู่ของคนสองเชื้อชาติให้สามารถใช้สิทธิประโยชน์เรื่องการเข้าเมืองได้อย่างเท่าเทียมกันกับคู่ต่างเพศ ในอดีตการร่างกฎหมาย อย่างเช่น พระราชบัญญัติการรวมกลุ่มของครอบครัวอเมริกัน (UAFA) ซึ่งถูกตราขึ้นเพื่อลดข้อจำกัดของบทบัญญัติในพระราชบัญญัติคุ้มครองการแต่งงาน (DOMA) แต่การตรากฎหมายดังกล่าวนั้นยังต้องผ่านสภาคองเกรสของสหรัฐอเมริกา เมื่อเร็วๆนี้มีการเสนอร่างพระราชบัญญัติในวุฒิสภาสหรัฐเพื่อจะจัดการกับประเด็นเรื่องการปฏิรูปการเข้าเมือง (CIR) และแก้ไขเรื่องการแบ่งแยกความแตกต่างของคู่เพศเดียวกัน(LGBT)โดยDOMA ยังคงเห็นได้ว่า การออกกฎหมายจะสามารถแก้ปัญหาความไม่เสมอภาคโดยการมีกฎหมายที่เหมาะสมกับเรื่องคนเข้าเมือง

To view this post in English please see: CIR.

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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 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 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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16th September 2010

The issue of LGBT Immigration rights for the loved ones of American citizens is an often discussed topic on this blog. This is mostly due to the fact that this issue is a pressing concern for many bi-national families and it is also an interesting and important legal issue that will likely be resolved by the Federal judicial branch of the United States of America. The provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act currently bar family visa applications for LGBT couples, even those lawfully married in a US jurisdiction which recognizes same sex marriage. There are other areas of American immigration law which touch upon this important issue. The following quote comes from Mr. Matthew J. Bajko writing on the Bay Area Reporter website:

LGBT immigrants in the United States face many hurdles to seeing their applications for asylum be granted. The first of which is a ticking clock.

Under U.S. immigration law, a person seeking asylum has one year from the first day they step foot on American soil to file their paperwork. The deadline presents quite an obstacle for many LGBT people, who either are unaware of the time limit or often have yet to grapple with or come to terms with their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

Even if an asylum seeker does get their paperwork in on time, then they face another series of challenges. Foremost is proving that they are indeed gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and if sent back to their home country, that they are likely to face persecution for being an LGBT person.

Many lack the resources to hire an immigration lawyer to represent and guide them through the process. And language barriers can further complicate matters.

Although this issue is somewhat novel in an immigration context, there are many who feel that LGBT issues will be at the forefront of certain aspects of the overall debate on Comprehensive Immigration Reform as current restrictions imposed by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) have a tremendously negative impact upon bi-national same sex couples.  This author is of the opinion that the immigration restrictions imposed by DOMA are unconstitutional because they violate the doctrine of States’ Rights which is embodied in the Constitution of the United States. It would appear, that some US Courts are currently in agreement with this assertion although the issue is likely to remain unresolved until the matter is brought to appeal and the question of Federal and interstate recognition of same sex unions is answered.

In the context of asylum, the Constitutionality of DOMA and issues surrounding immigration benefits for the partners of American Citizens are less prevalent. As the aforementioned publication went on to note:

But advocates and lawyers who handle immigration cases say the issue will only grow as more people around the world come out and flee anti-gay persecution.

“There is a lot of work out there,” said Ann Lewis, an attorney in the New York office of Ropes and Gray, which was the recipient of the 2010 Safe Haven Award from Immigration Equality for its pro bono work assisting LGBT asylum seekers.

In 2009 the firm won asylum for 10 clients referred to it by Immigration Equality, more than any other law firm in the country. The asylum seekers included a lesbian from India; a gay HIV-positive Jamaican and his son; a gay HIV-positive Ghanaian; a gay Ukrainian; and a gay man from the Dominican Republic.

Lewis told the Bay Area Reporter that a key first step in a successful asylum case is to meet the one-year filing deadline. By doing so the process is friendlier than fighting a deportation, she said, and moves rather quickly. Most applicants will wait up to five weeks to be interviewed by immigration officials, and most receive an answer within two weeks, said Lewis.

“People should be aware if you file an affirmative application you are not in immigration proceedings,” said Lewis. “It is a lot less scary and adversarial than federal removal proceedings.”

This is a significant issue that warrants further explanation. Expedited removal or general removal proceedings can be a daunting experience for foreign nationals in the United States. These types of adjudications differ substantially from asylum proceedings and should not be viewed as the same type of adjudication. The article went on:

Just as important is for the asylum seeker to be as truthful as possible during their interview about the anti-gay treatment they have faced. At times, Lewis acknowledged, it is not easy for an LGBT person to recall past ill-treatment or to understand what sorts of experiences would apply to their asylum case.

“It is very painful. To make a case like this it is difficult; these people often have been closeted since early adolescence or learned to keep their feelings to themselves,” said Lewis. “We were just talking about a specific case I am working on where the young man didn’t actually think he suffered past persecution. But he had been sexually abused because he was effeminate.”

Truth is a critical factor in any immigration proceeding. Although the facts surrounding an asylum claim can be difficult for some individuals to relive as persecution of LGBT communities can be truly terrifying in some locales. That said, it is admirable and reassuring to see American attorneys, such as Ann Lewis mentioned above, taking the initiative to pursue US LGBT immigration benefits on behalf of others in an effort to provide assistance to those seeking asylum and forestall possible further persecution by governments, individuals, communities, and regimes abroad.

For further related information please see: LGBT Immigration or US Visa Thailand.

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11th September 2010

The United States is an interesting country to analyze from the standpoint of immigration. Immigrants coming to the United States have provided the engine for economic growth throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. However, in recent years there have been those who have questioned US Immigration policy as spotty enforcement and a lack of clear Comprehensive Immigration Reform measures have left some feeling as though major change to the system is necessary for legal, political, and economic reasons. One aspect of US Immigration that some Americans fail to take into consideration when researching American immigration policy is the so-called “business argument”. Many feel that skilled immigrants can provide a much needed boost to the US economy particularly in economic areas where companies in United States are not as technically proficient compared to companies abroad. To quote a recent posting on the Financial Times website:

[T]he “business argument” for an increase in skilled immigrants is being politically sidelined because of the failure of the federal government to resolve the status of the more than 11m illegal and undocumented immigrants living in the shadows, and the unwillingness – not the inability – of the government to enforce current immigration laws.

This seeming lack of political will on the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform may stem from the current lack of a clear Immigration policy enshrined in American law. The United States Immigration system has not seen a large scale reform in many years and this has lead to systemic inefficiencies in dealing with real time issues. However, this author believes that American Citizens and American lawmakers have the ability to craft sound immigration policies. To quote the aforementioned publication further:

A world power – founded and built by immigrants – that has prospered, in large part due to its immigrant intake over the years, must do better than depend on an immigration policy that condones “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Once a rational and comprehensive immigration policy is properly forged – and, more importantly, enforced – one hopes that business’s demand for additional skilled immigrants will be an integral part of it.

The idea of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” US Immigration policy is a bit controversial as there are laws on the books which speak directly to issues such as unlawful presence in the United States, but the enforcement of such laws is difficult as the problem of undocumented immigrants in the US has become ubiquitous and therefore difficult to deal with. Overcoming this problem will likely result in an overall benefit to the US economy as Comprehensive Immigration Reform could pave the way for legitimate business immigration to the USA.

The benefits which can be accrued to the American economy’s favor should not be underestimated. Foreign direct investment in the United States economy will likely come from immigrants who wish to invest in American business while maintaining lawful status through utilization of some form of US visa. Meanwhile, skilled technical labor from abroad would make the US economy that much more attractive to foreign and domestic investors and increase the likelihood of future American technological innovation: which has consistently remained the American economy’s “Ace in the Hole” when making comparisons to other economic areas around the globe.

For related information please see: E2 visa or EB5 visa.

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1st September 2010

Employment based visas are sometimes more difficult to obtain during periods of acute economic stagnation. It is this author’s opinion, that one of the main strategies to spur growth in the United States of America is through immigration. An influx of foreign skilled labor and investment would create an environment in the USA that fosters both innovation as well as tangible economic growth. The current President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) was recently discussing the EB5 visa in the context of the overall American economic recovery. To quote directly from the AILA Leadership blog:

One of the strongest arguments in favor of comprehensive immigration reform is that it will make America more prosperous and competitive.  All credible studies show that an immigration system which meets the needs of businesses and US workers will add trillions to the economy, raise wages, and put Americans back to work.  Simply stated, immigration reform is good business and good for America’s future.

That’s why I was very excited to attend and give the opening remarks at the EB-5 Investor’s Conference which took place last Friday in Boston before a sell-out crowd.  Last month in my installation speech at the AILA Annual Conference I recalled Ronald Reagan’s final farewell to the nation in which he described his vision of America as beckoning immigrants with “the will and the heart” to get here.  Reagan understood that America’s strength is its openness: its celebration of creativity and new ideas.  And who is a better example of that then an immigrant who is willing to risk hard earned resources for the chance at the American Dream?

In his introductory remarks EB-5 Investor Visa conference chair Lincoln Stone referred to the visa as the “Golden Ticket.”  His description is spot on.  The visa has lead to investment across the US in areas that suffer higher rates of unemployment.  To be sure, it is a fast developing area.   Practitioners and entrepreneurs must master not only the intricacies of the law, but be sure to be aware of the ethical and fiduciary issues that come with the territory. Yet, it is beyond dispute that by attracting much needed capital to the US this visa category has the potential to indeed become a “Golden Ticket” for America.  What else can you say about a visa that by definition directly creates jobs for US workers and helps stimulate the US economy?

This author is of the opinion that any investment in the United States economy is a benefit to the nation as a whole. The beauty of the EB-5 visa program is that it provides for foreign nationals seeking a “Win-Win” situation for all of those involved in the process. The visa itself is a substantial benefit for the visa holder while the US economy gets the benefit of new jobs as well as fresh insights into business practices and methods for increasing productivity, efficiency, and in some cases employee morale.  That said, those seeking an EB-5 visa are well advised to contact an American attorney with experience in US Immigration matters as such a professional can provide highly beneficial information about the dynamics of the EB-5 program itself and the processing protocols for US Immigration petitions and applications arising therefrom.

The EB-5 program should not be confused with the E1 visa or the E2 visa. These programs offer differing visa benefits compared to the EB-5 visa.

For further information about American Immigration issues please see: Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

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