Monthly Archives: June 2009

WILL OBAMA’S “IT FACTOR” BE ENOUGH TO PUSH THROUGH IMMIGRATION REFORM THIS YEAR?

Either you have it or you don’t, a pacakge of characteristics that defies description…the “it factor”.  Needless to say, President Obama has “it”.  He is the one person who could eloquently precisely why our nation needs to reform its immigration laws. 

According to an article on washingtonpost.com:  “A bipartisan group of lawmakers emerged from a White House meeting with President Obama today confident that the president is ready to put his political weight behind an comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.”

Efforts at immigration reform failed twice in the past few years and although the economy is improving, US unemployment remains high.  Throw in the vocal anti-immigrants and we have three reasons why passing CIR will not be a walk in the park.

Having said that, there are always reasons for the government to delay tackling this vitally important issue.  Anyone who is involved in the “imigration machine” on a daily basis will attest to the fact that the current system is not working.  If the IRS treated taxpayers the way immigrants are treated by the bureaucratic agencies that handle US immigration, Congressional hearings would be sure to follow and heads would roll.

We need immigration reform to improve the flow of legal immigration, reunite family members and not leave foreign-nationals in limbo and at the mercy of a broken, schitzophrenic system.  We need to bring the undocumented out of the shadows so that these people can: contribute to our economy by paying back taxes and a fine, learn English, and protect our nation by identifying these individuals by running thorough background checks.

From the comments in the article by Senators Reid and Schumer, it seems that the Senate has the votes to pass CIR.  Considering the silence from the House and Press Secretary Gibbs’ comment about not having the votes – it seems that the President will need to cast his spell on a few congressmen and women. 

Getting CIR through both houses of Congress won’t be easy, but it is the right thing to do and President Obama is the right man to do it.

Please visit our website at www.immigrantconnect.com.

NOT ENOUGH VOTES FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM

According to an article on The Hills Blog:  “The votes aren’t there for the Obama administration to achieve its desired immigration reform, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday.”

Counting probable votes behind the scenes before moving forward with a plan that has failed to pass Congress twice in the recent past is good strategy.  Obama should support immigrants while working on getting the votes for CIR to pass.  Issuing Executive Orders or using other available methods of countering the anti-immigrant environment that the Bush administration left in its wake would be a good start.  Many opponents of CIR simply focus on the legalization component of the proposals, however improving avenues for legal immigration is equally important as the system we have now is frankly out of control.

WOULD YOU LIKE AN NTA WITH YOUR DENIAL?

A recent trend has been for Service Centers to issue Notices to Appear (NTA) in Immigration Court for those who have applied for immigration benefits whose cases are denied.  This means that the foreign-national is put into removal/deportation proceedings.  Sometimes these notices specify a date for the hearing before an immigration judge and other times they do not.

It is therefore imperative to carefully examine one’s eligibility to adjust status prior to filing an I-485 Application.  The answer to the question “what’s the worst that can happen?” is no longer that the USCIS simply denies the case, but that they place the foreign-national in removal proceedings. 

If you receive an NTA, you should consult a qualified immigration lawyer immediately to explore all available options.

COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM A THORNY ISSUE FOR DEMOCRATS

According to an article on latimes.com:  “Lawmakers will gather at the White House next week for a working session on immigration reform, a meeting that has been highly anticipated by Latino leaders eager for President Obama to honor his campaign promise to put millions of undocumented workers on a ‘pathway to citizenship.'”

Change in the immigraion arena is needed.  If CIR has to be delayed, piece-meal initiatives such as the DREAM Act and perhaps an Executive Order or at least policy directive halting certain enforcement measures would be in order.  If this Congress and Administration are serious about passing CIR and understand how the current system is just not working for anyone, at least subtle changes should be implemented while waiting for true CIR to come to fruition. 

Politically, getting right-winged Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot yet again by demonizing immigrants would be a good strategy and would probably gain Democrats even more congressional seats in the 2010 elections.  However, Obama needs to balance his credibility regarding campaign promises with political expediency – and that is never an easy thing to accomplish. 

When Democrats raise the immigration issue, while controlling the White House, Congress and the President has a high approval rating – it would be a shame if CIR were to fail given this is what a majority of Americans clearly want.       

ICE TO BE GIVEN AUTHORITY TO INVESTIGATE DRUG CRIMES

According to an article on nytimes.com:  “In an expansion of its crackdown on drug cartels, the Obama administration plans to announce Thursday that it will give Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents the authority to investigate drug crimes.”

This is a smart allocation of resources.  As opposed to concentrating on apprehending non-criminal aliens, having ICE focus on drug crimes and criminals should help to make us safer, which is the goal of law enforcement agencies.  Apprehending dishwashers and factory workers who may have overstayed, entered the US illegally or worked without authorization may be easy work, however it does little to benefit Americans.

IMMIGRATION DEBATE LINKED TO INCREASE IN HATE CRIMES

According to an article on washingtonpost.com:  “U.S. civil rights leaders said yesterday that an increase in hate crimes committed in recent years against Hispanics and people perceived to be immigrants ‘correlates closely’ to the nation’s increasingly contentious debate over immigration.”

Those who oppose immigration get their traction by appealing to emotion.  Hate is a very strong emotion.  From time to time, mentally unstable individuals will commit crimes motivated by hatred and in their minds may even justify such acts by dehumanizing the victims.  Anti-immigration organizations and some radio and cable television commentators use labels such as “criminal aliens” and the all-to-familiar term “illegals” to describe the undocumented.  Some unbalanced anti-immigrants may equate all Hispanics (regardless of their immigration status) with “illegals” leading to an increase in violent crimes against this group. 

Strong hate crime legislation would be a step in the right direction.  Enforcement, prosecution and sentencing under such laws would probably have the greatest deterrence effect. 

FIVE CONFIRMED CASES OF SWINE FLU AT IMMIGRATION DETENTION FACILITY

According to an article in examiner.com:  “Five cases of swine flu A/H1N1 have now been confirmed at the Miami Krome Detention Center, a temporary detention center that houses individuals waiting for determination of their immigration status or who are scheduled for repatriation .”

Considering the recent problems the agency has experienced in providing appropriate health care to immigrant detainees, let us hope that ICE, its contractors and medical personnel know what they are doing when dealing with those who present symptoms of the swine flu.

OBAMA IMMIGRATION REFORM MEETING DELAYED, AGAIN

According to an article on upi.com:  “After being scheduled for June 8, last Monday, it was rescheduled for June 17, next Wednesday. The indefinite delay suggests President Barack Obama and his staff are finding immigration more difficult than they expected, the report said.”

Immigration is undoubtedly a difficult issue to address as the last two failed attempts by Congress demonstrated.  However, tackling the tough issues head on was why President Obama was elected.  This is a smart administration.  There are probably good reasons for postponing the meetings.  First is probably the President’s desire to get somewhere with his Health Care Plan.  It is tough to have two hot-button issues on the table simultaneously.  Another thought is that a “behind the scenes” tally of members of congress did not reveal adequate support for CIR at this time.  Given the state of the economy, the idea of US jobs going to foreign nationals may not be palatable for some.

We will probably hear about the adminitration’s reasons for the delays.  Avoiding the subject would be a mistake and certainly very uncharacteristic of Obama’s open and honest character so far into his presidency.