June 28, 2008
McCain Calls CIR His Top Priority
Speaking before the NALEO conference today, John McCain called for comprehensive immigration reform. Mosheh Oinounou reports for Fox News:
Boldly declaring that he will make comprehensive immigration reform his “top priority,” during his first 100 days in office, Sen. John McCain today assured Latino leaders that they will have an ally in the White House.
“It will be my top priority yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” McCain told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Saturday. “Immigration reform will be my top priority because we have the obligation to address a federal issue from a federal standpoint. I will reach across the aisle again and work in a bipartisan fashion. We will resolve the immigration issue in America and we will secure our borders.”
McCain made the statement in response to a question about his Oval Office priorities after mainly focusing on the economy during his opening remarks to the group. He addressed NALEO this morning just before his Democratic rival spoke, noting at the top of his remarks that he was hoping the conference could have served as a forum for his joint-town hall proposal.
While McCain mostly avoided attacks on Obama—not even taking his usual shot at the Democrat’s support for a labor-backed amendment that hurt last year’s Senate immigration effort—the Illinois Senator exercised no such restraint.
Instead, McCain noted the battle he had with his own party during the failed comprehensive immigration reform effort.
“We tried, I reached across the aisle..and we worked in bipartisan fashion. And we were defeated and by the way it wasn’t very popular–let’s have some straight talk–with some in my party and so I did that and worked together so we could carry out a federal responsibility,” he said. “We have to secure our borders. That’s the message. But we also must proceed with a temporary worker program.” Click here for the full story.
Arpaio continues with immigration sweeps
Despite protests and complaints by local police, Sheriff Arpaio continues profiling Latinos to rid Mesa, Arizona of the undocumented population. Twenty eight persons were arrested this week, so far. For the full story, click here.
A Turning Tide: Immigrants to US and Europe beginning to go back
According to the Economist, economic downturn combined with aggressive anti-immigrant policies, such as rais and local ordinances are partly to blame. For the full story, click here.
June 27, 2008
Sangre de mi Sangre
Looking for a good movie? Consider this:
Winner of the Best Film at the Sundance Film Festival (under its former title Padre Nuestro), SANGRE DE MI SANGRE is an exhilarating and provocative thriller from newcomer Christopher Zalla exposing the dark side of the American dream. A young Mexican immigrant, Pedro (Jorge Adrian Espindola), journeys to New York City in search of the successful father he's never met only to have his belongings and identity stolen by a conniving thief, Juan (Armando Hernandez). As Pedro is left alone and unable to communicate in a country foreign to him, Juan cons his way into the home of Pedro's father, Diego (Jesus Ochoa), finding a man just as flawed as he is. While Juan attempts to reinvent himself, Pedro's only hope lies with a mysteriously complex prostitute, Magda (Paola Mendoza), as he frantically searches for his identity back.
Rating: Not yet rated
In Theatres: May 16th, 2008
Christopher Zalla (dir.)
Jorge Adrian Espindola
NAFTA and the Elephant in the Room
From Laura Carlsen of the America's Policy Program:
It's rare for the junior partners of NAFTA—Mexico and Canada—to have a chance to sit down and discuss regional integration without the dominating influence of the United States. Even when they do, of course, the U.S. is the elephant in the room. The University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico hosted a conference recently on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) from the Canadian and Mexican perspective. Although most of the presentations were from academics, businessmen or government officials, our panel on civil society participation set me to reflecting on the long personal and political history of the nearly 15-year-old NAFTA and its offspring, the SPP.
It gives me no great satisfaction to report that some of the most pessimistic predictions we made—the displacement of small farmers, lower than expected growth rates, the growing divide between the rich and the poor—have come true. Now we need to use these networks to continue to trilaterally organize against the SPP.
Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(@)ciponline.org) is director of the Americas Policy Program www.americaspolicy.org in Mexico City.
See full article online at:
Kaplan v. Chertoff Implementation
Kaplan v. Chertoff is a class action lawsuit filed on December 6, 2006, by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, to challenge alleged delays by the government in adjudicating applications for adjustment of status (“Form I-485”) and naturalization (“Form N-400”) for those who are receiving or have received SSI benefits and the resulting actual or potential cut-off of SSI benefits. The parties reached a settlement and now USCIS has issued this statement as to how it will comply with the settlement.
Questions and Answers: Expedited Processing Available for Certain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Beneficiaries
SSI Beneficiaries can request expedited processing of Forms I-485 and N-400
Q: Why is expedited processing available for SSI beneficiaries?
A: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently entered into a settlement agreement in a national class action, Kaplan, et al. v. Chertoff, et al., CV 06-5304. The suit was brought by non-U.S. citizens who had lost or who were about to lose their eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on a statutory seven-year limit, and who were unable to become naturalized U.S. citizens before the loss of SSI benefits. Under the settlement agreement USCIS will expedite I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) – commonly referred to as ‘green card’ applications – and N-400 (Application for Naturalization) of current or former Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries if the application has been pending with USCIS for more than six months.
Q: What is expedited processing under the Kaplan Settlement?
A: Expedited processing includes USCIS requesting an accelerated FBI Name Check and prioritizing any USCIS internal actions, such as scheduling an interview. USCIS will work with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to identify people who have lost or who will lose their SSI benefits within the next year and who already have an I-485 or N-400 pending with USCIS. USCIS will then expedite those cases even if the applicant has not yet requested expedited processing and if the application has not been pending for six months. Information on the Kaplan Settlement is available at www.uscis.gov/kaplan.
Q: What if I am a non-citizen who has lost my SSI benefits and am waiting for my N-400 or I-485 to be processed?
A: If you are a non-citizen who has lost eligibility for SSI benefits based on a statutory seven-year limit, and you have filed an I-485 or N-400 with USCIS, you may request expedited processing of your pending application at any time, regardless of when you lost SSI benefits. USCIS is working with SSA to identify people who have lost or who will lose their SSI benefits within the next year and who already have an I-485 or N-400 pending with USCIS. USCIS will then expedite those cases even if the applicant has not yet requested expedited processing and the application has not been pending for six months.
Q: How will USCIS contact non-citizen SSI beneficiaries with pending applications who have lost their SSI benefits?
A: USCIS and SSA will mail a blue letter to people who have lost their SSI benefits due to the seven-year statutory limit. The letter will explain that they need to do the following:
· File an I-485 or N-400, if eligible
· Be aware of the fee waiver application process
· For those who already have a pending application, how to request expedited processing
Q: What should I include with my I-485 or N-400 form?
A: If you receive a blue letter from USCIS about your eligibility for expedited processing, you should include that letter when you mail your form to USCIS. If you do not receive a blue letter from USCIS about the Kaplan settlement, you should include any other documents showing proof that that you are receiving or have received SSI benefits.
Q: How do I contact USCIS to request expedited processing based on my eligibility as a non-citizen beneficiary of SSI?
A: There are several ways you can contact USCIS to request expedited processing:
· Call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
· Make an InfoPass appointment at www.infopass.uscis.gov and come to your local USCIS Field Office in person. Our website, www.uscis.gov, has a list of all field office locations.
· Include a written request for expedited processing when you submit your application.
· Mail a request for expedited processing to the office where your I-485 or N-400 is pending once you receive a USCIS receipt notice for your application. To find out where your application is pending, please call 1-800-375-5283.
Whichever option you choose, please let USCIS know that you are requesting expedited processing based on your SSI status.
Q: If I am a non-citizen receiving SSI benefits and I just submitted an N-400 or I-485, can I apply for expediting processing now or must I wait until my application has been pending for over six months?
A: Customers may request expediting processing at any time, but USCIS will not start the expedite process until the application has been pending for over six months.
Q: If an applicant is eligible for SSI, will USCIS automatically waive fees?
A: No, however, USCIS is aware that applicants in the Kaplan class receive or have received SSI. SSI is a federal means-tested benefit and generally means that household incomes are at or below the poverty level, and that individuals are age 65 or over, or disabled. Therefore, applicants are likely to establish eligibility for a fee waiver. USCIS asks that class members write a large notation, “KAPLAN” on the outside of mailing envelopes containing either the I-485 or N-400 and the fee waiver request.
Q: What happens if I have changed addresses and never receive the blue letter?
A: It is vital that customers keep USCIS informed of their current address. It is critically important to ensure that correspondence with USCIS can be maintained. Customers who move must submit a free AR-11 Change of Address Form with USCIS within 10 days of their move. USCIS will check for an updated address for any blue letters that have been returned to USCIS within 90 days of mailing.
Q: When did the Kaplan Settlement take effect, and how long will it last?
A: The settlement took effect March 5, 2008 and will remain in effect until February 5, 2011.
Q: Does this mean that if I am a non-citizen receiving SSI benefits, I will become a citizen?
A: Expedited processing will ensure that USCIS prioritizes processing these forms. However, it is not a guarantee that the benefit will be granted. USCIS still needs to make sure that applicants meet eligibility requirements before the benefit can be granted.
Q: Can I visit a Service Center or the National Benefit Center to ask questions about this settlement?
A: No. If you believe you may be eligible for expedited processing under the Kaplan Settlement Agreement, then please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283, or you may make an InfoPass appointment to visit your local public field office.
38 more arrests in Wisconsin Immigration Sweep
The Associated Press reports ICE arrested 38 immigrants in what are called "fugitive" sweeps conducted during the past five days in Wisconsin. The term "fugivite" is strategically used to label persons who have failed to comply with a removal order against them. Typically, these raids occur in people's homes, generally early in the morning. It is typical that many others who are not the target of the arrest are also arrested during these raids. Here, for example, 22 of those arrested for immigration violations were not the target of the raids. For the story, click here.
Anti-Immigrant Stance Would Hurt GOP
The Republican Party would suffer at the polls if it maintains an anti-immigrant stance, according to this report from America's Voice:
What Does Rep. Cannon’s Loss in Utah Say About the Republican Party and Immigration?
America’s Voice Says GOP Embrace of Hardliners Will Cost the Party in November and Beyond
“The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war on immigration, and anti-immigrant hardliners are ascending—a trend that doesn’t bode well for the long-term viability of the GOP. While Republican primary voters are pulling their candidates to the right on this issue, they are hurting their Party’s chances in swing districts, key battleground states, and on the national stage. Republicans like Rep. Chris Cannon and Senator John McCain are stuck between a rock and a hard place on this issue. The rock is the unyielding, unforgiving, anti-immigrant wing of the Party. The hard place is where the majority of Americans stand, which is for a practical solution that replaces an illegal system with a legal one. Sooner or later, Republicans will realize that allowing the anti-immigrant wing to take the reins of the Party is both bad politics and bad policy.” – Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice
The loss by incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon to Jason Chaffetz in the Utah-3 Republican primary has been portrayed as a victory for anti-immigration extremists. While immigration was not the only issue in the contest, it clearly played a role in setting up the scenario for a bitter Republican primary, and the result highlights a dangerous trend for the GOP over the long-haul. The GOP base’s elevation of extremist candidates on immigration has the potential to cripple the Party’s competitiveness on the national stage. The Republican Party is in the midst of a bitter battle on immigration, and the restrictionist minority is on the rise. As a result, the GOP’s tone and positioning on the issue have become increasingly extreme and out of touch with broader national sentiment on the issue.
This intra-party divisiveness bodes ill for Senator John McCain, who is trying to have it both ways —attempting to placate GOP hardliners by distancing himself from his past support for comprehensive immigration reform, while also trying to maintain a positive relationship with Latino voters. However Latino citizens, who are becoming an increasingly important group of voters, are disappointed by the Republican shift towards extremist positions and Senator McCain’s inability to stand up to extremists in his own Party. Poll after poll shows that Latinos are rejecting the Republican Party in high numbers, and overwhelmingly supporting Senator Barack Obama over Senator McCain.
In addition, hard-line immigration policies have failed to attract independent and swing voters who will be critically important to deciding multiple Congressional races, as well as the outcome of the Presidential contest.
Following is our take on the lessons learned from Rep. Cannon’s loss in the Republican primary, and what this means for the Presidential contest and future elections.
Background on the Cannon/Chaffetz Race
While immigration was a factor in the UT-3 race, it was not the only factor. According to Chaffetz himself, “I knew early on we would lose if we focused just on immigration. My message was purposely broader than immigration. … My signature issue is fiscal discipline,” (Politico, “Chaffetz’s win a GOP ‘wake-up call,’” June 26, 2008).
Utah’s 3rd District is one of the most Republican in the nation; President Bush won 77% of the vote in 2004. Rep. Cannon, a six-term incumbent, had faced tough primary challenges in 2004 and 2006 from candidates to his right. Representative Cannon has also been dogged by several traces of scandal in recent years, including former staff’s ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, controversy over a personal loan, and questions over the influence of his lobbyist brother. Cannon made several notable verbal gaffes in recent years, including dismissing the seriousness of the allegations against Rep. Mark Foley’s conduct with Congressional pages by saying, “There’s not much we can do except educate kids to the dangers. Frankly, this is the responsibility of the parents – If you get online you may find creepy people who will do and say creepy things – avoid them… It looks like this one email was a prank--a bunch of kids sitting around, egging this guy on,” (Salt Lake Tribune, October 6, 2006).
As the third Member of Congress to lose in a primary battle in addition to dozens of retirements by vulnerable Members, the results in Utah are further evidence of a widespread, anti-incumbent mood. This was noted in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s analysis of the UT-3 race, which credited Chaffetz for running a “grass-roots campaign that centered on changing the way Washington does business — a theme that will be equally pertinent during the general election in the fall,” (NRCC, “Utah Primary Results,” June 24, 2008, http://www.nrcc.org/news/view_article.asp?id=1949).
Reverberations on the National Stage: 2008
The schism in the Republican Party over immigration—and its impact on the larger electorate—is already visible in the 2008 Presidential election.
The Pew Hispanic Center reports that in 2008, Latinos will comprise about 9% of the eligible electorate nationwide and will make up approximately 6.5% of actual voters, if past turnout percentages remain static. The Latino vote is particularly concentrated in key battleground states. As Pew reports, Latinos constitute “a sizable share of the electorate in four of the six states that President Bush carried by margins of five percentage points or fewer in 2004—New Mexico (where Latinos make up 37% of state’s eligible electorate); Florida (14%); Nevada (12%) and Colorado (12%). All four are expected to be closely contested once again in 2008,” (Pew Hispanic Center, December 2007). A recent poll from Latino Decisions/Pacific Research found that in the four southwestern “battleground” states, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, Senator Obama leads Senator McCain among Latinos 57% to 31. Additionally, NBC/WSJ poll from June 11th showed Latinos favoring Senator Barack Obama 62% to 28% over Senator John McCain; a Gallup poll from May 31st found that Latinos favored Obama 62% to 29%; and a Reuters/Zogby poll from May 18th found Obama winning Latinos 57% to 29%.
In 2004, over 40% of Latinos supported George W. Bush’s reelection. Although once a champion of comprehensive immigration reform, Senator John McCain’s recent alliance with the anti-immigrant base of the Republican Party has been greeted unfavorably by Latino voters, and makes it unlikely he will reach or exceed Bush’s high-water mark with Latinos. As the Politico recently reported, Senator McCain “dismayed Latinos last year when he stepped back from his immigration bill that would have tightened the borders and legalized undocumented immigrants. As boos and hisses from angry Republican conservatives grew louder at campaign events, he switched course and vowed to “first” secure the borders. Were his failed bill to come up again, he would not vote for it, he said,” (Politico, “McCain’s Immigration Zigzag,” June 20, 2008). McCain’s poor showing among Latino voters in recent months is clear evidence that, despite his earlier support for comprehensive immigration reform, his efforts to appease the Republican base and distance himself from common-sense reform have cost him dearly with this key demographic.
In addition, recent research from Democracy Corps/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research shows that in the 45 most-competitive Republican-held districts, the Republican “amnesty” attack may excite voters’ passions but it doesn’t translate into votes, (“Democrats Improve Advantage in 45 Republican-Held Districts,” June 3, 2008, http://www.democracycorps.com/strategy/2008/06/another-congressional-wave-election/?section=Analysis).
Embrace of Anti-Immigrant Stance Will Hurt G.O.P. Long-Term
Nationwide, the Republican alliance with immigration hardliners does not bode well for GOP competitiveness in the 2008 cycle and longer term. The increasing importance of the Latino vote and these voters’ disgust with the policy and rhetoric of the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party will have lasting political consequences. In addition, swing voters who want solutions and not empty sound bites will reject politicians who pander in favor of politicians who are willing to roll up their sleeves and solve tough problems.
Immigrant of the Day: Levi Strauss (Germany)
Levi's name at birth was Loeb, but when he immigrated to the U.S., it was changed to Levi. He was born in Buttenheim in Bavaria, Germany. Young Levi sailed from Bremerhaven to New York where his two older brothers had already established a textile and tailoring business.
In 1853, Strauss became an American citizen and moved to San Francisco, California, where the California Gold Rush was still in high gear. Strauss opened a dry goods wholesale business called Levi Strauss & Co.
The story goes that miners, often complaining about the easily torn cotton "britches" and pockets that "split right out," gave Levi the idea to make a rugged overall trouser for the miners to wear.
On May 20, 1873, Strauss and Davis received United States patent #139121 for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the first of the famous Levi's brand of jeans in San Francisco.
Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902 and was buried in Colma.
Levi Strauss & Co. continues to operate as a denim and clothing company.
Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Edited by Peter Orner
Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Edited by Peter Orner ries is a series of finely crafted stories where individuals in their own words describe the range of experiences and abuse the undocumented face. The book is published by McSweeney's as part of their Voice of Witness series where they seek to give voice to victims of human rights abuses.
Here is a blurb:
They arrive from around the world for countless reasons. Many come simply to make a living. Others are fleeing persecution in their native countries. Millions of immigrants risk deportation and imprisonment by living in the U.S. without legal status. They are living underground, with little protection from exploitation at the hands of human smugglers, employers, or law enforcement. Underground America, the third book in the Voice of Witness series, presents the remarkable oral histories of men and women struggling to carve a life for themselves in the U.S. Among them are:
FARID, an Iranian-American business owner who employs a number of American citizens while he himself remains undocumented. A critic of the Iranian government, he fears for his safety if he is deported back to his native country.
DIANA, who, along with thousands of other Latino workers, helped rebuild the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. After completing her job, she and many others were detained and imprisoned for not having proper documentation.
LISO, a South African woman who was the victim of a bait-and-switch immigration scam. She was enticed to come to the U.S. as a religious missionary, but once here, her sponsors forced her into unpaid domestic labor.
June 26, 2008
Margaret Stock Wins Maggio Award!
This year's MICHAEL MAGGIO PRO BONO AWARD For Outstanding Efforts in Providing Pro Bono Representation to Deserving Aliens in the Field of Immigration Law goes to Margaret D. Stock. Margaret is being recognized at the AILA conference, along with HIROSHI MOTOMURA, DEBORAH ANKER< and PHIL SCHRAG (as previously blogged). Margaret was commended by incoming AILA President Chuck Kuck in his inaugural speech for her work establishing a program for AILA members to provide pro bono assistance to military service members.
Judge rejects challenge to ordinance barring police from approaching persons solely for immigration purposes
Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court granted a motion from the city and the American Civil Liberties Union for a summary judgment against a suit filed in 2006 by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, challenging Special Order 40, a long standing order that prohibits local police from approaching persons solely to ascertain their immigration status. Judge True held that the order did not violate federal immigration law, nor barred federal immigration agencies from communicating with local police. For the full story, click here.
160 arrested at a second recent major raid in Houston
The New York Times reported today that federal immigration agents arrested 160 employees on Wednesday in a raid at Action Rag USA, a used clothing and rag exporting plant. It is not clear from the story whether any of the workers have been criminally charged. For the full story, click here.
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Helps LPRS Become Citizens (and Voters)
Congressmen Luis Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky and Chicago civic and political leaders will join hundreds of volunteers, leaders and advocates of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) on Saturday, June 28 at Foreman High School (235 N LeClaire Ave) to assist legal permanent residents applying for citizenship and to celebrate new Americans who have obtained citizenship over the past months.
In addition, ICIRR along with national immigrant rights organizations including the Center for Community Change, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, National Council of La Raza, NDN, America’s Voice, United Food and Commercial Workers and the We Are America Alliance will be launching the “New Americans Vote 2008 - Our Vote is Power” campaign, which combines training, organizing and electoral civic engagement targeting the immigrant community. For the first time the training will include participants from 14 other states across the country including Florida, California, Colorado, New York, Nebraska, Oregon, an more.
Public officials and volunteers will help those wishing to apply for citizenship with the process and the forms. A celebratory rally will be held to congratulate those who have already completed the process. Volunteers will be on hand to help New Americans become registered voters. And 60 fellows will be presented before they leave to a 6 day intensive boot camp training to mobilize immigrants to vote on Election Day, register new immigrant voters, and recruit thousands of volunteers to actively participate in the campaign nationally.
“The immigrant vote will be crucial this Election year, and immigrants are eager to show their political power by voting in large numbers this November,” said Lawrence Benito, ICIRR Associate Director.
Challenge to LAPD's Special Order 40 Thrown Out!
The tragic killing of a young African American teen last spring in Los Angeles provoked much talk about the LAPD's Special Order 40, which limits police power to inquire into citizenship status of witnesses, victims, and suspects. The L.A. Times reports that a judge Wednesday threw out a lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles resident who wanted to repeal the LAPD order. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu, granting a motion from the city and the American Civil Liberties Union, said Harold Sturgeon had failed to prove that Special Order 40 was in conflict with federal and state laws that dictate the flow of information between local and federal agencies regarding people's immigration status.
Minuteman FOUNDER laments path of anti-illegal immigration groups
Amy Taxin of the OC Register writes that Minuteman Project founder and former Congressional candidate Jim Gilchrist laments the direction of his organization. AAmong other things, "[t]oday, Gilchrist is worried that a few self-proclaimed patriots might be carrying a gun. After seeing online videos that encouraged border violence amid calls to crack down on illegal immigration, the 59-year-old Aliso Viejo resident said he feels responsible for what started out as a publicity campaign and has since fallen prey to internal divisions and to influence by people he believed had `Saddam Hussein mentalities.'"
Gilchrist has been a high profile anti-immigration advocate. Last year, Gilchrist had a falling out with several of his former Minuteman Project collaborators, who accuse him of mismanaging the organization's funds.
More on "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring in the Department of Justice Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program"
Brian Leiter and others have highlighted the recent report on the politicization of hiring in the U.S. Department of Justice. There were specific litmus tests apparently applied to immigration-related positions:
"In the Executive Office for Immigration Review, upon learning that a significant number of EOIR’s Honors Program candidates had been deselected, Deputy Director Kevin Ohlson reviewed the deselected candidates’ applications as well as a few applications of candidates who were approved for interviews. Ohlson told us that it appeared that `individuals at the Department were rejecting any of our candidates who could be construed as . . . left-wing' or who were `perceived, based on their applications and résumés and so forth, as being more liberal.' Ohlson said that he reached this conclusion based on the fact that many of the deselected candidates had had internships with organizations such as Human Rights Watch or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), or had assisted in defending someone held at Guantánamo Bay." An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring in the Department of Justice Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program, USDOJ OIG, OPR, June 24, 2008.
Immigrant of the Day: Ming Hsieh (China)
Ming Hsieh (born 1955) is a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist and the founder of AMAZ technology in 1987 and Cogent Systems in 1990. According to Forbes magazine, his estimated net worth exceeds $1.6 billion, ranking him the 198th richest person in America and 562nd among The World's Richest People In 2006.
Ming Hsieh's family originated in Guangzhou (Canton), he was raised in Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning province in Northeast China. His family was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution as a part of China's upper middle class having ties with the old national government moved to Taiwan; as a result, his family was forced to move in 1966 to a small village near Panjing.
Hsieh learned the trade of electrical engineering from his formally trained father as they built a crude power system for the village. Hsieh's uncle had left China and earned a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California in 1952 before working for TRW. Knowing of this, Hsieh decided to follow his uncle and, after two years at the South China Institute of Technology in Guangzhou and with an inheritance from his grandparents in Taiwan, he transferred to USC's engineering program.
Hsieh earned his Bachelor's of Science in Electrical Engineering from USC in 1983 and MSEE in 1984.
Hsieh began work as a circuit designer for International Rectifier. After two and a half years, he decided to start his own business. In 1987 he founded AMAX Information Technologies with former USC classmates and engineers from his uncle's work, TRW. Serving as its vice president, AMAX created servers, storage systems and related hardware, but Hsieh realized there was a need for software to go with his hardware. With another fellow USC classmate, he founded Cogent Systems Inc. which offered fully automated, high-speed biometric fingerprint system. The company began receiving numerous government contracts and now includes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Prisons, FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police amongst its customers.
In October 2006, Hsieh donated $35 million to USC's Viterbi School of Engineering's Department of Electrical Engineering, 100 years after the department and school's founding. In honor of his donation, the department was renamed the USC Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Hsieh is married with two children. He lives in Los Angeles.
Ming Hsieh was one one of the immigrant success-stories and charitable-givers profiled in a recent L.A. Times story.
June 25, 2008
Immigration Daily Defends Fragomen Law Firm
Undocumented Immigrant Who Lost $49K Wins Appeal!
CNN reports that an undocumented immigrant dishwasher who lost $49,000 to the U.S. government as he tried to take it home to Guatemala will get some of the money back. Pedro Zapeta managed to save $59,000 while working as a dishwasher for 11 years. Zapeta was carrying $59,000 in cash when he was stopped at a security checkpoint at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2005. He told authorities he was returning home to Guatemala with the money he had saved working illegally as a dishwasher over 11 years. But federal law requires that anyone leaving or entering the country with $10,000 or more must declare it. Because Zapeta had not done so, he was detained, and his money was seized. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in an unpublished ruling that the district court applied an incorrect standard in determining the amount to be forfeited and ordered a hearing to set a new fine.
Zepeta returned to Guatemala this year under the threat of deportation, but his lawyers continued to argue that the fine was excessive