May 24, 2007
Possible Changes in Family Immigration
"Mr. Nikpouri is one of an estimated 1.5 million legal immigrants in the United States who have been waiting as long as seven years to bring husbands, wives and small children to live with them. Instead of giving them new hope, a bipartisan compromise bill now under debate on the Senate floor would only make their plight worse, senators, lawyers and immigrants said yesterday.
While the bill’s supporters say it would put legal immigrants ahead of illegal ones, immigrant advocacy groups and lawyers who have studied the measure say it is a minefield for those who have been waiting for years in the bureaucratic labyrinths of the immigration system. If the bill passes, they said, millions of foreigners already in the legal pipeline could face even longer waits than they do now.
For future immigrants, priorities would shift to favor those with specialized job skills, higher education levels and English language ability over the family ties that have been the foundation of the system for four decades, making it even more difficult for relatives to immigrate.
Supporters of the bill, including the White House, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, and Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican, say it would help aspiring legal immigrants by eliminating the backlog of about four million visa applications within eight years. A total of 440,000 green cards — as visas for legal permanent residents are known — will be set aside during each of the eight years to reduce the backlog. But by a quirk of the bill, legal immigrants who are seeking to bring spouses would be left out of the backlog reduction and the number of visas allotted to them would be slightly reduced."
By Julia Preston, N.Y. Times Link to Article
May 22, 2007
Certificates of Birth for Stillbirths
"Last summer, three weeks before her due date, Sari Edber delivered a stillborn son, Jacob. “He was 5 pounds and 19 inches, absolutely beautiful, with my olive complexion, my husband’s curly hair, long fingers and toes, chubby cheeks and a perfect button nose,” she said.
The sudden shift from what she called “a perfectly wonderful healthy pregnancy” to delivering a dead infant was unfathomably painful, said Ms. Edber, 27, who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Daniel.
“The experience of giving birth and death at the exact same time is something you don’t understand unless you’ve gone through it,” Ms. Edber said. “The day before I was released from the hospital, the doctor came in with the paperwork for a fetal death certificate, and said, ‘I’m sorry, but this is the only document you’ll receive.’ In my heart, it didn’t make sense. I was in labor. I pushed, I had stitches, my breast milk came in, just like any other mother. And we deserved more than a death certificate.”
So Ms. Edber joined with others who had experienced stillbirth to push California legislators to pass a bill allowing parents to receive a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.
In the last six years, 19 states, including New Jersey, have enacted laws allowing parents who have had stillbirths to get such certificates. Similar legislation is under consideration in several more, among them New York. More than 25,000 pregnancies a year end in stillbirth, generally defined as a naturally occurring, unintentional intrauterine death after more than 20 weeks of gestation. A cause for the death is usually not determined."
By Tamar Lewin, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 5-22-07 NVS)
May 20, 2007
Rights and Responsibilities of Marriage
"WHEN the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” little did she know that a century and a half later the list would extend into the thousands — at least for married couples. As of 2005, the Government Accounting Office had identified more than 1,000 legal rights and responsibilities attendant to marriage. The era of big government is clearly not over when it comes to family policy.
These range from the continuation of water rights upon the death of a spouse to the ability to take funeral leave. And that’s just the federal government. States and localities have their own marriage provisions. New York State, for example, grants a spouse the right to inherit a military veteran’s peddler’s license. Hawaii extends to spouses of residents its lower in-state fees for hunting licenses.
No wonder gay and lesbian activists put such a premium on access to marriage rights. Some gay marriage advocates want all spousal rights immediately and will settle for nothing less. Others take an incremental approach, aiming to secure first the most significant domestic partner rights, like employer benefits.
But rather than argue about whether gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to tie the knot, or be granted any marital rights at all, perhaps it is time to do an end run around the culture wars by unbundling the marriage contract into its constituent parts. Then, applying free-market principles, we could allow each citizen to assign the various rights and responsibilities now connected to marriage as he or she sees fit." Dalton conleyl, OpEd Contributor, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 5-20-07 NVS)