Saturday, July 4, 2009

Google Exec: Think Like an Immigrant

From Immigration, Inc:

Born in Iran, Omid Kordestani moved to the U.S. at age 14. He fondly remembers watching the television show “The Jeffersons” and hearing the “Movin’ on Up” theme song.

Kordestani believes that being an immigrant gave him an edge to “movin’ on up” to the penthouse of American business.

Omid Kordestani is the 12th employee of Google. He is Google’s Senior Advisor in the Office of the CEO and Founders. He is credited with making Google an advertising machine and revenue producer. His net worth is reported to be about $2 billion.

He advises young Americans to adopt an immigrant-mindset as they enter the rough-and tumble business world.

In 2007, Omid Kordestani made the following recommendation to Americans at the San Jose University commencement: “To keep an edge, I must think and act like an immigrant. There is a special optimism and drive that I benefited from and continue to rely on that I want all of you to find. Immigrants are inherently dreamers and fighters”


July 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Nation of Immigrants Celebrates Independence Day

Here is a release from the Immigration Policy Center:

As America celebrates its 233rd birthday, we are reminded of the many contributions immigrants have made to America throughout our great history. Nowhere will this be more celebrated than in the 50 naturalization ceremonies taking place around the nation this weekend where 6,000 immigrants will become Americans at venues like Disneyworld and George Washinton's Mount Vernon. Five hundred of those about to pledge their allegiance to America are already defending our nation on a daily basis as members of the armed services. They will take part in naturalization ceremonies in Baghdad, Norfolk, Camp Lejeune, and Nellis Air Force Base.

As USA Today's editorial board reminds us this Independence Day, new Americans "symbolize what's right with America, a nation of immigrants that was built by opening its doors...America remains the envy of much of the world and a magnet for millions who come seeking opportunity they can't find elsewhere."

In honor of the Fourth of July, the IPC has compiled a new fact sheet on immigrant contributions to our economy and society, as well as a collection of some of our favorite resources that tell the compelling story of America's immigrants. Immigration Policy Center: Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Clout of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians Ellis Island: The Immigrant Experience The National Immigration Forum: The Journey The American Immigration Law Foundation: Becoming American

Check out the IPC link above for more information.


July 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Check Out Concurring Opinions!

I am guest blogging on Concurring Opinions this month. ImmigrationProf readers may be interested in a post I did today ("Racial Profiling Still Pervasive in United States: Does Anyone Care?") on the comeback of racial profiling in law enforcement.


July 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 3, 2009


6a00d8341bfae553ef01156f832b8f970c-800wi 140px-Nancy_Reagan_reopens_Statue_of_Liberty_1986 As previously reported on ImmigrationProf, the crown of the Statue of Liberty will reopen to tourists on July 4 after being closed since September 11, 2001. The National Park Service closed the crown because of concerns that it would be difficult to evacuate quickly.  Here is a CNN story with links to photos of Lady Liberty.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"



July 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CALL FOR PAPERS: Immigration and the Obama Administration

The Saint Louis University Public Law Review announces a call for papers for its spring 2010 issue. The topic of the spring issue is the Future of Immigration Law and the New Administration. We are on the cusp of comprehensive immigration reform, and the new administration may bring a dramatic shift in immigration policy. This special issue will broadly allow any topic within immigration law, with an eye toward policy changes and recommendations for our new President and Congress. We welcome articles and essays of any length from legal scholars, judges, practicing attorneys, and legislators. Up to five articles will be chosen for publication in the late spring of 2010. Abstracts are being accepted now, and full drafts will be due at the end of November 2009. The Public Law Review was established in 1981 as a specialty journal to address legal issues of public interest and public policy. For two years in a row, the Public Law Review has been ranked fourth in the nation for Constitutional Law. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vice President Joseph Biden, and Senators Pete Domenici, John Danforth, and John Ashcroft have authored articles in the Public Law Review. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the editors at


July 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Could Citizens Pass Civics Naturalization Test?

Here is some interesting news on the eve of Indepence Day: "A telephone survey of Arizona high school students by the conservative Goldwater Institute found that appallingly few could pass the U.S. citizenship test that immigrants must take to become naturalized citizens."

It is odd that the U.S. naturalization laws apparently expect more of immigrants than can be expected of U.S. citizens.


July 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Happy July 4 (actually July 3) to Walter Lara!

Julia Preston of the N.Y. Times reports some good immigration news:  "[i]mmigration authorities have postponed for one year the deportation of Walter Lara, an immigrant from Argentina who said he had come to the United States illegally with his parents when he was 3, officials said. Mr. Lara, an honors graduate of high school and community college in Miami, was the focus of a campaign by supporters of proposed legislation known as the Dream Act, which would grant legal status to young illegal immigrants who have lived for years in the United States."

For the SEIU's take on Lara's reprieve, click here.


July 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Police Chiefs Want Immigration Reform

From Standing FIRM:

Yesterday, leading law enforcement officials from across the country are voicing their opinions about immigration reform. A panel discussion took place in Miami, FL that included: Chief John Timoney, of Miami; Chief Art Acevedo, of Austin, Texas; and former Chief Art Venegas, of Sacramento, Calif. Acevedo is also head of the National Latino Peace Officers Association.

It seems as though even law enforcement agrees that the current immigration system is broken and must be reformed. The panel comes on the heels of  the Washington State Sheriff’s Association issuing an urgent call for changes to the immigration system. Our partner group One America reports that the Sherriff’s Association released a letter to the Department of Homeland Security detailing their support of reform. Below is an excerpt:

    For years, the federal government has failed to deal with the broken immigration system and left our communities to deal with the effects:  illegal drug trade; smugglers who take advantage of immigrant workers and families; criminals who prey on immigrants because they believe they won’t be reported; the expense on local courts and local jails… The time is now to fix the broken immigration system and its safe-guards.

It is clear that even law enforcement officials understand the toll our broken immigration system is having on the country. It is time to reform immigration, for public safety.


July 2, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Daniel Guadron (Guatemala)

Our Immigrant of the Day, Daniel Guardron, was detained for nearly seven months as an immigrant in high school and returned to graduate with his class.  As the AP story reports, "[h]e was born on the Fourth of July, an irony he would only appreciate later, during the dark period of his life, when liberty and freedom became far more than mere words in his high school history book."

A straight-A student, Daniel Guadron mastered English within months of emigrating from Guatemala at 13, then mastered French. "He's aced every math test he has ever taken."  He was a star athlete too. Despite the financial obstacles, he will attend a community college next year and hopes to transfer to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and study to be an engineer.


July 2, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

BoA Accused of Exploiting Immigrants

The L.A. Times reports that ex-employees of Bank of America, backed by a labor union say working-class and immigrant clients are exploited by being urged to sign up for multiple services that carry high interest rates and fees. Ex-employees leveled the accusations in recent interviews. "They are being backed in their whistle-blowing by the Service Employees International Union, which is trying to organize BofA, the nation's largest bank. Bank of America officials flatly rejected the allegations, saying their policies are legal, adhere to industry standards and are helpful to customers, including immigrants seeking a toehold in the United States."

Stay tuned!


July 2, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ICE serves 652 businesses nationwide with audit notices today

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) annoinced today that it "is launching a bold, new audit initiative today by issuing Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 652 businesses nationwide - which is more than ICE issued throughout all of last fiscal year. The notices alert business owners that ICE will be inspecting their hiring records to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations."


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Letter to AG Holder on Due Process Protections for Mentally Disabled in Immigration Court

Brittney Nystrom, Senior Legal Advisor at the National Immigration Forum ( asked me to post this request:

Immigrant and disabilities rights advocates are urging Attorney General Holder to revise regulations and policies to provide strengthened due process protections for people in immigration court who have mental disabilities.  A prior version of this letter was circulated in April, but has since undergone substantial revisions.  This letter specifically recommends::

  • the appointment of counsel to all persons in removal proceedings who have mental disabilities
  • the appointment of guardians ad litem (in addition to counsel) to all persons in removal proceedings found mentally incompetent
  • the revision of existing regulations and the adoption of new regulations to standardize proceedings and increase protections for people in removal proceedings who have mental disabilities, including proposals for competency hearings and termination, administrative closure, and termination of proceedings
  • the provision of training programs and materials on mental health issues to immigration judges and EOIR staff

This letter is the product of many hours of work by advocates across the country.  As organizations dedicated to fighting for the rights of immigrants, please consider signing onto this letter if you haven’t already.  To be listed as a signatory, please fill out and execute the attached signature page and PDF it to Beatie Branch of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (; (212) 455-2304) no later than 5pm Monday, July 20

Here is the draft letter.  Download Letter_to_Holder


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Commentary on U.S. Attorney Nominee and Postville

We reported earlier this week about the continuing controversy surrounding U.S. Attorney nominee Stephanie Rose in Iowa.  ImmigrationProf reader Roderick Guerrerro raises the following issues about the nomination in a couple of e-mails:

"It really concerns me that little attention is being directed at Rose's AUSA record and in particular her role in the Postville prosecutions. [Senator] Harkin touts her as leader but completely fails to hold her accountable for any thing bad that has happened in the Northern District office during her tenure. Once Harkin nominated Rose, he decided he would support her and does not want to lose face. He is very practiced at spinning and working to make issues go away. If only Harkin and his staff had exercised a "ton of good work" on their USA selection process.

As far as Harkin is concerned, Postville was the Immaculate Prosecution. He has never once condemned the Postville Prosecutions--in fact, he has ignored the U.S. Attorney's Office's conduct entirely. According to Harkin “Rose's assignment at Postville was to work with defense attorneys to resolve as many cases as possible without a trial.” Why oh why was it so important that these cases be resolved "without trials"? Is Harkin completely ignorant of the role the “fast track exploding plea bargains” had in the Postville prosecutions? Does he approve? Quite the profile in courage!

No one is asserting that Rose should be held solely accountable for the Postville prosecutions. However, there is no doubt that the Postville prosecutions were the most important cases to occur in the Northern District of Iowa since Rose has been employed in the office. The fact that the cases occurred while she was in a leadership position and “played a central role in the raid and prosecution” by negotiating some 300 plea agreements over 11 days is an important part of her record that requires careful examination. For example, if Rose went case-by-case making sure each case was handled properly once she got involved as asserted by Harkin, how come the prosecution was so bollixed up?

Two things should jump out at anyone who carefully reviews Rose’s “leadership” record.

1. At the time of the Postville prosecutions, Rose was Deputy Chief of Criminal Division. She was not a low ranking member of the office but was in a leadership position as third in charge in the office for criminal prosecutions behind only the United States Attorney and the Chief of Criminal Division.

Clearly the Congressional record shows that the Postville prosecutorial decisions were made in the Northern District USA office. It seems more than implausible that Stephanie Rose while operating in the position of Chief Deputy of the Criminal Division had no clue that the Postville prosecutions were being planned by her colleagues in the Iowa office until just before the ICE raid. It also seems implausible that she would have no prior knowledge of the ICE Postville investigation nor that criminal complaints and criminal arrest warrants for 697 Postville workers that were being prepared and sought by her office some 30 days before the ICE raid. Either Rose was involved in the Postville prosecutions to a greater extent than she has being willing to acknowledge or she was displaying that leadership trick of “putting her head in the sand.” Neither of these conclusions is what we would expect of a United States Attorney candidate.

2. The Postville Prosecutions is but the premier example of the reprehensible policies that have occurred on her watch as a leader in the Northern District office. Recently, Federal District Judge Mark Bennett spelled out the extreme practice of the Northern District in sentencing cases in his opinion in the Beiermann case ( He details that in only two of the 1576 felony sentencing cases held in the District since late 2008 had the USA office agreed to a downward variance. (The 1576 number does not include the 304 Postville sentencing.) It has been reported that no other United States Attorney Office has a sentencing record even close to these low downward variance agreement numbers. With these facts in mind, Judge Bennett then openly questions whether the Northern District USA office is fulfilling it is obligation “to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice.” (See Beiermann, pages 21-23). Presumably several of these cases were ones that Rose directly handled herself and all of these cases occurred during her tenure as Chief Deputy of the Criminal Division. Clearly, her record at best, even without the Postville Prosecution stain on her record, is mediocre. Her role in the Postville prosecutions is more than troubling but her unqualified support for the Postville Prosecutions and ICE raid tactics even with the benefit of hindsight makes her nomination a complete disgrace.

Big Question: Did Rose ever raise her voice in opposition to the Northern District’s use of coercive prosecutorial tactics against the Postville workers? Even Privately?

Why not clear up the issue of Stephanie Rose’s role and release all emails and memos that describe her role? Likewise, she should volunteer to answer questions under oath about her Postville role and her views on basic criminal justice issues.

Even if it is true that Stephanie Rose played no direct policy role in the Postville prosecutions, she was still acting according to her oath as an officer of the court and as a federal prosecutor. Ethically and morally, her hands were not tied once she was given her Postville prosecution assignment to negotiate the “exploding” seven-day plea agreements with attorneys representing the workers. Even if the “raid was initiated by Washington,” or the prosecution designed by other prosecutors in her own office, as Chief Deputy of the Criminal Division and as an Assistant United States Attorney, Rose still had ethical duties. It was her responsibility to carefully review and scrutinize each prosecution for any ethical or constitutional due process problems. The ethical and constitutional issues created by the prosecutions were numerous and should have been obvious to her. Stephanie Rose was not able to understand the numerous defects in the prosecutions, she chose to overlook the defects or she just plain failed to see any problems with the prosecutions as executed. Any one of these conclusions raises serious questions about her judgment and fitness to be a United States Attorney at this point in her career."


"Yesterday, June 30, 2009, the community of Postville, Iowa sought to have a dialogue with Senator Harkin and Stephanie Rose, his nominee to be the next United States Attorney of the Northern District of Iowa about the Postville prosecutions and her role in the prosecutions. KWWL television (NBC station in Waterloo, Iowa) did cover the meeting. The report is disturbing on several fronts: See

1.  Stephanie Rose failed to attend or even send a written statement to the community.

2.  Senator Harkin failed to attend.. The U.S. Senate is in recess this week where was Harkin?

3.  Harkin has been a no show in Postville since the May 2008 ICE raid and prosecutions. Further, Harkin has never condemned the ICE raid and prosecutions. Harkin has not joined in the wide-spread call for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Postville prosecutions. ( See and

4.  The Harkin representative (unnamed) who did attend the meeting claimed not be able to appear before the camera. What kind of baloney is that? Why wouldn’t the Harkin rep go on camera?

5.  The Harkin representative who attended repeated the same tired line about Stephanie Rose having no responsibility for the Postville prosecutions. Hogwash!

6.  Why doesn't Senator Harkin and Stephanie Rose condemn the Postville Raid and Prosecutions?

7.  Why don't Senator Harkin and Stephanie Rose support the wide-spread call for a DOJ Investigation of the Postville Prosecutions?

Clearly, Senator Harkin’s and Stephanie Rose’s response to the Postville community’s invitation was just another of their attempts to sweep the Postville prosecutions under the rug. This insult should not be allowed to stand. More sunshine is required on Stephanie Rose and her role in the Postville prosecutions.

The Postville Prosecutions are arguably the most egregious use of federal prosecutorial power this century. At the time of the Postville Prosecutions, Rose was not a low ranking member of the office but was in a leadership position as third in charge in the office for criminal prosecutions behind only United States Attorney Dummermuth and Chief Deputy Richard Murphy. Recently, Stephanie Rose was asked about her role at Postville. She defended the raid and prosecutions saying “executing the massive operation required amazing effort and a ton of good work.” The plea agreements negotiated by Stephanie Rose were calculated to take advantage of the workers worry about families they had been supporting with their wages. Almost all workers were represented by lawyers with little or no immigration expertise that were forced to represent on average 17 workers during a very short period of time. Clearly this was premeditated and calculated to force the workers to waive all rights and submit to the criminal charges and then deportation after serving five months in prison. Stephanie Rose is apparently blind to the fact that the Postville workers were begging to be released to go support their families in Guatemala. Her “ton of good work” really amounted to ramming these cases through before anyone could raise an effective defense. Her record at best, even without the Postville Prosecutions, was mediocre, her role in the prosecutions is more than troubling but her unqualified support for the Postville Prosecutions and ICE raid tactics even with the benefit of hindsight makes her nomination a complete disgrace."

July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Attorney General Appoints New Chief Immigration Judge

Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the appointment of Brian M. O'Leary as the Executive Office for Immigration Review's (EOIR) Chief Immigration Judge. Prior to his appointment, Judge O'Leary served as an immigration judge from May 2007 to June 2009 at the Arlington, Va., Immigration Court. He served as a temporary board member on the Board of Immigration Appeals from May 2006 to May 2007 and as a deputy chief immigration judge in the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge from March 2003 to May 2006. Judge O'Leary served as an assistant chief immigration judge from May 1994 to March 2003, during which time, from May 2000 to October 2001, he served as an acting deputy chief immigration judge. Before joining EOIR, Judge O'Leary worked for five years in numerous positions with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Headquarters Office of the General Counsel where he served as associate general counsel, deputy associate general counsel, and assistant general counsel. He also served with the U.S. Attorney's Offices in the Southern District of Florida, as well as the Eastern District of Virginia, where he worked as special assistant U.S. attorney. Prior to that experience, Judge O'Leary worked as a trial attorney with the INS Miami District Office. Judge O'Leary completed undergraduate work at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in 1982, and received a juris doctorate in 1985 from the New England School of Law. He is a member of the Massachusetts and Florida


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Rights Groups file Petition for Rulemaking seeking appointed counsel

A group of immigrant rights organizations yesterday filed a Petition for Rulemaking, asking the Executive Office for Immigration review (EOIR) to begin rulemaking to permit Immigration Judges to appoint counsel in certain circumstances. The argument is that in some hearings, for removal proceedings to be fundamentally fair, counsel should be appointed. Assuming arguendo that there is no Fifth Amendment right to counsel, across the board, the case law would support a more limited right to counsel in certain types of cases. The Petition for Rulemaking does not address payment where counsel is appointed, although that some compensation would be appropriate. 


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Opponent of CA's Alien Land Law Dies: RIP Toshio Sakai

Toshio Sakai, who helped lead a battle by Japanese Americans to overcome the vestiges of a historical racial ban on land ownership, died last Thursday at age 95.

Mr. Sakai was born in Walnut Grove in 1913 and reared by Japanese immigrants. He lived with his family in Japan during the Great Depression and in Los Angeles before being interned with Japanese Americans during World War II.

 Mr. Sakai returned to Walnut Grove after the war and opened an insurance agency. He served for 27 years on the Walnut Grove Fire District and was on the Walnut Grove School District board. He was a past president of Walnut Grove Buddhist Church.

Mr. Sakai also fought to end a legacy of discrimination created by California's Alien Land Act, which barred Japanese immigrants from holding title to the parcels on which they owned their homes. Although the law was struck down in 1952, generations of his family and others in Backtown – the Japanese section of Walnut Grove – continued paying rent to landlords. Residents also paid for improvements, including a gravel road, weed spraying and a sewer tie-in. The landlords refused to sell the property to residents but agreed not to raise rents. When a hefty rent increase was set in 1968, Mr. Sakai and his neighbors helped organize a rent strike by residents with support from the War on Poverty's Operation Grass Roots, the Sacramento County Legal Aid Society and the Japanese American Citizens League. After two years, the landlords agreed to sell to homeowners.


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

LAPD Business As Usual: Chief's Proposed Punishment Rejected, Officers in MacArthur Park Melee Slapped on the Wrist

In May 2007, Los Angeles police were accused of using excessive force againt immigration protesters. For a video, click here.  The Los Angeles Times now reports that none of the officers accused of using excessive force on demonstrators and journalists at a 2007 May Day march at MacArthur Park will be fired.  Police Chief William J. Bratton had sought to punish 11 officers and called for the termination of four others.  The "melee" so far has cost the city $13 million in legal settlements.  The internal disciplinary boards imposed a maximum penalty of a 20-day suspension on one officer.


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Al Franken on Immigration

From America's Voice:

The Junior Senator From Minnesota Supports Common Sense Solutions to Our Broken Immigration System

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Minnesota Supreme Court ended an 8 month legal dispute over who would represent the state of Minnesota in the United States Senate.  Incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) conceded defeat to Democrat Al Franken, giving Democrats in the Senate a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the chamber. 

But where does the newest member of the Minnesota delegation stand on the issue of immigration?   As early as 2006, Al Franken laid out his position on this urgent issue.  During an appearance on Scarborough Country on April 3, 2006, Franken stated - “I think these 11 million or 12 million undocumented people who are here, I think it`s un -- impractical to expect that we`re going to deport them. Many of them have children who are citizens, and brothers and sisters who are.  I think what we have to do is tighten up the border. I think we have to figure out a -- a guest-worker program that limits the number of people who come in and that treats them well and treats America -- and is fair to American-born workers.”

Additionally, the Minneapolis Star Tribune says of Franken, he “Supports guest worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are working and have no criminal record. Says it's not practical to deport 12 million illegal immigrants.”  Franken’s campaign website stated that he does not “believe in breaking up families. Instead, we should look to bring them out of the shadows and put them on a path to citizenship, providing that they: have been working, have paid taxes, have not committed any crimes since coming to this country, speak, or are learning to speak, English and pay a nominal fine. We should also ensure that those immigrants currently in the process of becoming citizens are not disadvantaged by these reforms.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for immigration issues, is among the committee assignments that Senator Franken will fill.  This is a sign that the issue will be of importance to the Senator and America’s Voice looks forward to working alongside Senator Franken to work towards smart solutions to fix our nation’s immigration system.”


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Napolitano Working on Legislation

Visiting in Ireland, DHS Secretary Napolitano commented on President Obama's assignment to her on comprehensive immigration reform. She was quoted an article by Deaglan de Breadun in the Irish Times:

“The president has asked me to lead the team working with the Congress to examine immigration reform in the United States. We had a meeting at the White House just last Thursday with about 30 members of the Congress and the president said publicly he would like to see if there could be a Bill ready by the end of the year or the beginning of 2010. It’s a very aggressive schedule, so, I take that as my direction and will work hard to achieve that.”

A previous joint effort by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain to bring about immigration reform was unsuccessful and Ms Napolitano says: “Some of the ideas in that legislation need to be brought forth again; others as well. But in the meantime, as I keep reminding people, we are enforcing the immigration laws. My department is a law-enforcement department, that’s our job and we will continue to do it, even as discussions are under way about how to amend the laws.”


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CRS Report on Legal Immigration

Here is a March 2009 Congressional Research Service report on immigration policy and legal immigration. As ImmigrationProf has argued previously, reform of the legal immigration admissions criteria is necesssary to get a handle on undocumented immigration.

Among other things, the report explains all of immigrant admissions categories--including numerical limits, admission trends, backlogs, processing delays, and pending legislative proposals.

Here is the summary of the report:

"Four major principles underlie current U.S. policy on permanent immigration: the reunification of families, the admission of immigrants with needed skills, the protection of refugees, and the diversity of admissions by country of origin. These principles are embodied in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA specifies a complex set of numerical limits and preference categories that give priorities for permanent immigration reflecting these principles. Legal permanent residents (LPRs) refer to foreign nationals who live permanently in the United States.

During FY2007, a total of 1.1 million aliens became LPRs in the United States. Of this total, 65.5% entered on the basis of family ties. Other major categories in FY2007 were employmentbased LPRs (including spouses and children) at 15.4%, and refugees/asylees adjusting to LPR status at 12.9%. Over 10% of all LPRs come from Mexico, which sent 148,640 LPRs in FY2007. Substantial efforts to reform legal immigration have failed in the recent past, prompting some to characterize the issue as a “zero-sum game” or a “third rail.” The challenge inherent in reforming legal immigration is balancing employers’ hopes to increase the supply of legally present foreign workers, families’ longing to re-unite and live together, and a widely shared wish among the various stakeholders to improve the policies governing legal immigration into the country.

Whether the Congress will act to alter immigration policies—either in the form of comprehensive immigration reform or in the form of incremental revisions aimed at strategic changes—is at the crux of the debate. Addressing these contentious policy reforms against the backdrop of economic crisis sharpens the social and business cleavages and may narrow the range of options.

Even as U.S. unemployment levels rise, employers assert that they continue to need the “best and the brightest” workers, regardless of their country of birth, to remain competitive in a worldwide market and to keep their firms in the United States. While support for the option of increasing employment based immigration may be dampened by the economic recession, proponents argue it is an essential ingredient for economic growth.

Proponents of family-based migration alternatively point to the significant backlogs in family based immigration due to the sheer volume of aliens eligible to immigrate to the United States and maintain that any proposal to increase immigration levels should also include the option of family-based backlog reduction. Citizens and LPRs often wait years for their relatives’ petitions to be processed and visa numbers to become available.

Against these competing priorities for increased immigration are those who offer options to scale back immigration levels, with options ranging from limiting family-based LPRs to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to confining employment-based LPRs exceptional, extraordinary, or outstanding individuals.

This report will be updated to reflect major legislative action."


July 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)