According to the USCIS, as of May 21, 2010, the agency has received 19,600 Cap-Eligible Petitions out of 65,000 available and 8,200 H-1B Master’s Cap Exemption Petitions out of an available 20,000.  This is a sign of the times as just a few years ago, all cap-subject petitions were used up in a matter of weeks if not days.

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According to a Press Release:  “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it has revised the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or Form I-766, to incorporate the addition of a machine-readable zone on the back of the card..”

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Poll results need to be taken with a grain of salt.  Issues regarding the ability to extrapolate a national opinion from a random sample of participants, what questions are posed and finally the biases of the organization commissioning the poll all need to be considered.  Polls are also a snapshot of people’s opinions on a particular day, which is why we often see weekly polls commissioned by different organizations, often with different results.  For example, if one poses the question:  “Do you support amnesty giving citizenship to illegals?”  The majority answer would be “no”.  However, if the complete question is:  “Do you support a path to legalization the status of undocumented workers if they (1) pay a fine, (2) pay back taxes, (3) undergo a criminal background check that comes up clean, (4) learn English and (5) go to the back of the line behind those who have applied under existing laws.”  The results would be different.  This would especially be true if in addition to the question above, it would be clear the the interviewee that such a legalization process would be offered in conjunction with increased border security, tamper-proof work authorization cards, and increased enforcement against employers who violate the law.

Attorney General Holder and DHS Secretary Napolitano have both been criticized for not having read the Arizona immigration law on which they remarked.  It is fair to assume that almost all of those who were randomly polled about this law did not read it either.  Therefore, support for the law by poll participants is based on the second-hand accounts that they have either heard or read about the law.  The conclusion one may draw from these results is that the majority of Americans want something done about illegal immigration.  This is true on both sides of the aisle.  Unfortunately, Arizona has taken a punitive stance on a national issue that has led or will lead to boycotts of the state likely to cost local businesses tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue and lead to a loss of hospitality jobs.

Arizona’s actions should be a catalyst for Congress and the President to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Immigration is a national issue and if the existing laws are outdated and ineffective, which they are, they need to be changed.

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As the debate over the Arizona immigration law and the prospects for national comprehensive immigration reform continues, there are a few misconceptions that understandably, the general population seems to have about many undocumented workers.  U.S. immigration laws are complex and out-dated and a great deal of time needs to be devoted to gain even a reasonable understanding of how the system works.

The most frequent and frustrating among these misconceptions that the general population has about the undocumented is that these people just need to get their papers in order rather to be here legally.  For the great majority of these individuals, this is exactly what they would like to do.  Current law does not offer that option.  This is what comprehensive immigration reform should help to take care of in part.  A law that would require undocumented individuals to pay a fine, get their fingerprints taken, learn English and file the appropriate forms to “get their papers” is precisely what the far right has in the past decried as amnesty and opposes so harshly.

Moreover, in most instances, undocumented persons who came to the United States to work hard and support their families are not violent criminals.  Some “journalists” who are masters of manipulating this issue, will provide isolated examples of undocumented individuals who commit crimes to prove the point that most of these people are violent, criminal illegals that must be stopped before they kill us all.  This is fear-mongering, selective reporting, and is not based in fact.  Remember from  logic class:  If Johnny ate a rotten tomato, it does not mean all tomatoes are rotten.

Those who have entered the country illegally usually have not had opportunities to do so legally in the context of our current immigration system.  These people frequently spend more money paying a human smuggler and risk their lives doing so than it would cost them to hire a lawyer, and file the appropriate form to come legally – once again, our laws do not provide for such options.  There is a demand for these individuals to do work for U.S. businesses because if there were not, they would be be here.

I think that pro-immigrant groups have done a reasonable job making their points.  However, the anti-immigration groups have been masters at framing the immigration issue for years.  The term “illegal” that is now used by the mainstream media is one example of the great success anti-immigration groups have had in framing the immigration debate.

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I have found a channel and in particular a host, that examines the immigration issue from what I believe to be a “fair” (pun intended) viewpoint.  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has been analyzing the alleged motivations behind those who helped to draft Arizona’s new controversial immigration law.  For those of you who have not seen Rachel Maddow’s intelligent, thought-provoking show, check out links to Ms. Maddow’s interview with the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s president, Dan Stein, her fact-check reporting the following day as well as The Maddow Blog that among other things, reports on the immigration issue in Arizona.

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