Monday, September 26, 2005
How many EB Immigrant Visas Will be Available this Coming Year?
Many people have been asking this question in view of the current extreme backlogs in the employment based categories. There has been a published estimate that between the recaptured immigrant numbers from prior years and unused family based immigrant visas, that there should be 248.000 employment based immigrant visas available for the year rather than the normal 140,000. However, when questioned, a State Department spokesman was quoted as saying, "AC21 had recaptured the FY-1999/FY-2000 unused Employment numbers which totaled approximately 131,000. Approximately 101,000 of those numbers remained available for use in FY-2005, and there will be about 8,000 remaining for use in FY-2006. My estimate for the FY-2006 Employment limit will be 156,000 (140,000 + 8,000 (FY-2005 Family) + 8,000 (AC21)."
So, more than normally alloted but still far short of the amount necessary to bring priority dates current.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Have A Question? Post Here.
I'm starting this post with a request for whatever questions you have. It will be refreshed everytime I respond to a new post. So, in the interests of getting relevant information out to the most people possible at one time, instead of emailing me (or in addition to emailing me) please post your general questions about U.S. immigration law and process here. As usual, I cannot give specific legal advice regarding your particular situation through through the web.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Immigration Nominee's Credentials Questioned
"The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues [DHS Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement], prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts." So reports the Washington Post today in a front page story. Julie Myers appears to have adequate law credentials and some "managerial" experience with smaller government operations. She clearly has the right Republication and administration connections. She was "an associate under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for about 16 months and has most recently served as a special assistant to President Bush handling personnel issues. Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday,")
But there is particular concern among many, even party loyalists after the Michael Brown catastrophe at FEMA (all right he is more of a symptom of FEMA's pathetic state rather than a cause,) about continuing the practice of hiring the minimally experienced and politically connected to run "troubled" organizations like ICE. Looks like more of the same under this administration.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Immigration Issues Unaffected by Rehnquist/O'Connor Replacements - Congress is Where the Action Is
With the sudden passing of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist and the previously announced retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, there has been much speculation and discussion on the effect of John O'Connor's being named Chief Justice and of O'Connor's yet to be named successor, on the court's rulings on abortion, church and state separation and various civil rights that have come to be accepted as protected by the U.S. Constitution through Supreme Court rulings going back to the mid 20th Century. However, it is doubtful that little, if any changes are in store for the Supreme Court's position on immigration, such as it is. The Supreme Court long ago granted the Congress virtually unfettered discretion to treat "aliens" virtually however way the government sees fit. An alien who one day is perfectly legal in the US, can be illegal the next (and vice versa). A lawful permanent resident who commited a crime many years ago as a youth, served his time and has been clean since then is not deportable. Then suddenly, Congress changes the law, makes the change retroactive and now he IS deportable. Same person, same crime, same subsequent clean record, only now he is subject to detention and removal proceedings. Why now and not before? That does not matter, it is within Congress's discretion. Short answer? Expand the opportunities that currently "undocumented," or "illegal" "aliens" have to become "legal" and be a normal part of society.
As the US voter's elected representatives, Congress has unfortunately often reflected the biases, prejudices, even hatreds of the American voter through history. This history is most obvious and well documented in the history of the civil rights movement. In the immigration area, it has favored laws, periodically, that either limit or stop immigration or, more recently, punish immigrants. Laws have been enacted which either punish immigrants directly or as a by product of the war against terror. The 1996 IRIIRA law was an example of the latter. The Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1995 and the Real ID act are examples of the former. Both of these were ostensibly to make us all safer. In fact, the extremist anti immigration lobby has taken advantage of the population's anti terrorist concerns to mix its traditional hatred of "all immigrants who are not like me" with pious concern with protecting the U.S. against future 9/11's.
In the continuing debate on immigration reform, Congress has an opportunity to fix a broken system, to incorporate new immigrants into U.S. society as it has over two hundred years and to help employers gain the employees that they need so badly. The Kennedy/McCain bill seems to be the best able to accomplish this, of any of the pending legislative efforts.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Will Immigration Reform Be Put On The Back Burner Again?
Ever since President Bush made it clear, pre 9/11, that reform of the dysfunctional immigration process in the U.S. was one of the major goals of his administration, there has been much more talk than any meaningful action. Immigration reform has repeatedly been pushed aside while the Congress and Administration focus on the urgent concerns that keep arising: First 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror, the economic downturn, the War in Irag and now, possibly, the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. Yes, taking care of the victims of a disaster which has ended the lives of thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands and effectively destroyed, temporarily, a major American city, should take precedence at this time, but what next?
What effect will the pathetic Federal response to Katrina (I know, there is plenty of blame to go around) and his fight to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice and to fill another vacancy on the Supreme Court have on the President’s ability or desire to support effective immigration reform?
My concern is that the focus will be on helping “our own:” the vast number of U.S. citizens and lawful residents who have seen their lives destroyed by Katrina. Once again the undocumented workers and their families, who are suffering just as much as “legal” residents, if not more because of lack of bank accounts, social services and fear of being discovered when applying for aid or trying to escape the disaster, will be excluded from public concern and legalization channels postponed yet again.