Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Accountability Gap in Refugee Protection

In "The Accountability Gap in Refugee Protection," Mauro De Lorenzo (here) writes thoughtfully about the problems in international refugee protection.  In his view, "[t]here is an accountability gap in refugee protection in the developing world. Host states consider refugees to be the responsibility of the `international community,' and are pleased to cede their sovereignty on this issue to [the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees], an unaccountable international organization. Yet, legally, host states are responsible for the human rights of refugees within their borders."

Thanks to the Jaya Ramji-Nogales (Temple) for the assist.


May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Olga Korbut

Korbut_olga Olga Korbut was born on May 16th, 1955 in Grodno (Hrodna), Belarus. At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, her acrobatics and open display of emotion and raw enthusiasm captivated the Munich audiences, and there she became the first person ever to do a backward somersault on the balance beam. Korbut also was the first to do standing backward somersalt on bars, and a back somersalt to swingdown (Korbut Flip) on beam. During the Olympics, Korbut was one of the favorites for the all-around after her dynamic performance in the team competition. But memorably, she fell from bars and the title went to her teammate Ludmilla Tourischeva. Notwithstanding, she ended up winning three gold medals, for the balance beam, floor exercise and team, and one silver medal in the uneven bars. Korbut's Olympic achievement earned her the ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. The Soviet coaches and officials had designated Olga as the woman who could beat Romanian prodigy Nadia Comaneci in the 1976 Olympic Games at Montreal. But Olga was injured and her performances were under-par. She was overshadowed not only by Comaneci but by her own teammate Nellie Kim. But she did collect a team gold medal and an individual silver medal for the balance beam. Korbut graduated from the Grodno Pedagogical Institute in 1977 and retired from Olympic competition.

Korbut married Leonid Bortkevich, who was a member of a popular Belarusan folk band.  In 1991, Korbut and her family immigrated to the United States. She now lives in Scottsdale (Arizona, USA).  For the official Olga Korbut website, click here.


May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will the Nuclear Option Kill Immigration Reform?

The Hill (here) reports that House conservatives are ready to stop the Senate immigration reform bill  should the bill pass the Senater. The Constitution requires that revenue-related bills originate in the House. The Senate immigration measure requires that illegal immigrants pay back taxes before becoming legalizing, which arguably relates to revenue.  House Republicans used the same back-taxes mandate to derail last year’s immigration conference.


May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lou Dobbs Responds

Yesterday, we had a couple of posts on the latest criticisms of Lou Dobbs for his "reporting" on immigration issues.  Click here to hear Lou's response.  In essence, he either defends his reporting, says its was't reporting, or the erro was only one in many rep[orts.  Lou further claims that he has been victimized by the left and the right.   But read for yourself.


May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fourth Grade Class Develops Comprehensive Reform Proposals

The fourth grade class at Irish Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colorado (a class of native Spanish speakers in a bi-lingual program) has come up with an immigration plan that congress should look at more seriously than other pending legislation.

Dear Irish Staff,
As you may or may not know, my Spanish literacy class has been reading A LOT about immigration in the past few months in my usual immigration unit.  In the past month or so, we have been engulfed in reading current events about the proposed immigration reform happening in the Senate currently.  As you also know, I usually try to do a culminating project that allows students to express what they’ve learned and feel that they can have an impact on issues that are critical to them.  This e-mail is that culminating project—let me explain…

After reading the reform proposals, and then the amended and revised proposals, the students obviously have formed strong opinions about the shaping of this immigration reform.  In previous years we have written letters to key politicians and have held power point presentations to inform the public.  This year, things in the senate are simply moving too fast and we don’t have time to do that.  So this year the class decided to take advantage of email (fast and easily passed on).    The past week was devoted to students picking apart the reform proposals in “subcommittees” and then deciding if they were in agreement or disagreement with sections of the law.  They stated their opinion to the class which then opened up the whole class debate.  After the debate an opinion was added to the letter.  Then, for it to remain in the letter it had to receive a ¾ majority “blind” vote.  Therefore, this email truly represents the opinions of the 4th grade Spanish literacy class.  For some of the class’s reasons they make broad statements from reading that we have done with statistics to support them.

What do we ask of you?  That you read this email fully, that you research the issue yourself, that you form your own opinion and that you call your Senators and Representatives to express your opinion on an issue that will have immense ramifications.   If you don’t have time to research it yourself, call in with the opinions of the fourth grade class, you’ll simply be giving a voice to those that have none (many of our families are not comfortable calling up state officials given their legal status.) 

The 4th grade’s opinion on the immigration reform proposal:

1) We agree with the idea of giving undocumented individuals living in the country the opportunity to gain residency and citizenship.
a)  We believe this is the correct thing to do because undocumented individuals contribute to our society with their work, their taxes (yes, they pay sale and income tax, what they don’t usually do is risk claiming any refunds), and their cultural and linguistic contributions.  See La otra cara de América, Jorge Ramos, 2000
b) It is unfair to deny rights to those that contribute to a society. 
c) We do not believe that granting residency will increase the # of immigrants entering the U.S. as it did not in ’86.  See 
2) We agree with the amendment of allowing all undocumented immigrants the opportunity to legalization from 2007 instead of the original 2004 date. 
a) This date allows the largest # of immigrants the opportunity to legalize their situation. 
b) 2004 is an arbitrary date.  Why 2004 if 2007 is just as good of a date?
3) We agree with the addition of the “Dream Act” to the legislation.  The Dream Act will allow minor children of undocumented individuals the right to legalization and study at the University level.
a) We believe this to be the correct thing to do because a country cannot survive in the future if it has a large population of uneducated individuals. 
b) Minor children had no choice but to come to the U.S. illegally with their parents, why should they be punished?
c) If the immigrant youth population is denied the right to an education, instead of spending their time studying, they might join gangs or start doing drugs.
d)  Without education, these immigrant children will be forced into low paying jobs.
4) We agree that no immigrant should be allowed to enter the country if they have committed any serious crimes. 
a) We believe this because if we did the country would fill up with criminals and the jails would fill up.  We don’t want to live in a country full of murderers, drug dealers, etc.
5) We agree with the $5,000 fine with the understanding that this money will go towards building parks, schools, etc. for everyone’s use.  Also, this money would have to be collected with reasonably small payments over a given period of time.
a)   We recognize that a law was broken (despite it be broken out of necessity) and therefore, there should be a fine like when one breaks other laws. 
b) We would be in disagreement with this fine if the money would be put towards war or more security measures along the border. 
6) We disagree with the idea of the “Temporary Worker” program.  This program would a certain # of workers (the exact number is being debated) to enter the country legally 2 years and then they would leave for a year and could return for another 2 years.  After working for 4 years they would have no possibility of returning to the country.
a) We believe that 4 years is insufficient for a worker to make any substantial gains to raise his family above the poverty level in his/her home country.
b) Many of our families have been working in this country for 7-9 years and if we had to leave the country we would return to Mexico almost as poor as we came. How would this be different for the “temporary workers?”
c) This system uses individuals.  It fulfills the economic needs of the U.S. but it does not help the immigrant, nor his family in the long run.
7) We strongly disagree with the fact that the “temporary workers” could not bring their families with them. We also disagree that one would not be able to legalize their family members based on this reform. 
b) In addition, it does not make sense economically for the U.S. to separate the families. 
i)    If you separate the head of the house from his family, he will send the majority of his money to his family in Mexico , the money will be spent in Mexico .  If the family is here, they will spend their money here improving the U.S. economy.
c) How can a father/mother raise his/her children if they are separated?  This separation will cause problems because the children without their father will more likely drop out of school, do drugs, join gangs, etc. 
8) The merit point system to gain legal papers has many flaws.
a) To earn points one must have done many things that are impossible or very difficult for a person without legal documents.
i)    Own a home.
ii) Have filed their taxes.
iii)        Own a business.
iv)         Show a high degree of education.
v)  Etc.
9) We do not agree with incrementing security around the boarder.  (The proposal calls for 18,000 new immigration agents, 4 unmanned planes, fences, motion sensors, etc.)
a) This does not address the problem.  Immigrants come to the U.S. for necessity and building fences does not address that necessity.  Starving people will risk coming anyways.
b) Immigrants will have to cross the border in more dangerous areas increasing the already high number of deaths along the border. 
c) Drug dealers and terrorists have money, guns, equipment and resources to get around these defenses, only the poor immigrants do not. 
d) This idea treats Mexicans like criminals and animals that need to be “fenced in.”
e) Could the money invested in this new “security” be used to solve the actual problem instead?
10)     We disagree with the idea of lowering the number of immigrants that can enter legally in the future.
a) There are many people who want to enter now that cannot and are forced to cross illegally.  Lowering the number will not help this.
b) The immigrants are coming because of great necessity and they do a service to the country by taking jobs that many U.S. citizens would not like to take or if they did take them their demanded salary would sky rocket prices on things such as fruits, vegetables, hotel and restaurant service, etc. 
c) We shouldn’t forget that this is a country of immigrants and to deny future immigrants would be unfair.  We are all here thanks to someone letting in our immigrant ancestors; we should be considerate to future generations. 
11)     We disagree with the idea that Z-Visa holders (those that are here illegally could receive this to become legal and work while waiting for their permanent residency) should have to leave the country after a few years and wait several years in their home country for their residency.
a) This would unnecessarily uproot entire families.  This disrupts the education of their children as they have been learning in English and then would be put in schools in another language and educational system.  Then they would be in a separate educational system years until they returned.  This will not prepare the students to work live in the U.S. effectively and get a good job.
b) What if the family can’t find work in their home country while they wait, how will they survive?
12)     We disagree with the idea that immigrants caught trying to cross the border would have to spend up to a year in a U.S. prison. 
a) This practice is not practical for the U.S.
i)    The U.S. would have to build more jails and invest more money to maintain them and the immigrants for this year.  This would cost more $ to the tax payers. 
b) Again, this does not address the cause of the immigration problem and therefore, cannot be a valid solution. 
c) It is unfair to put people in jail when their only real crime is being poor.  If they are put in jail with real criminals they will be mistreated. 
d) Perhaps a fine would be a better punishment.  This might dissuade some immigration and it would increase money to the U.S. instead of take it away.  It would also be more humanitarian. 

Once you’ve studied the issues, please call your senators and congress men/women to express your opinion as we’ve expressed ours.  Please do not sit idly as one of the most important decisions of our time is being made. 

Then, please forward this message to your friends and relatives so that they can get involved as well.  We calculated that if you sent this to just 5 people and they sent it to 5 people and so on that just after just a few times we’d have reached thousands of individuals.  And thousands of calls from citizens about this important issue means that the senators and congress people will make the decision that the majority will support. 

Our deepest hope is that, whatever the final law may be we, and all immigrants, will be treated with respect.  We hope that the people of the United States and the senators and congress men/women will put themselves in our shoes for a moment while they make these critical decisions.  We hope that, in the end, we will be treated as fellow human beings.  Thank you again.

David Autenrieth
4th Grade Bilingual Teacher
Irish Elementary
Poudre School District


May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No Second Chance for Cambodian Aggravated Felon

Ngoc Nguyen of Inter Press Service News Agency, reports on the ongoing effects of the elimination of discretionary relief for aggravated felons from 1996 immigration reforms:

Kew Chea's college graduation party was also to celebrate the release of her older brother from prison.

"I had made music and a slideshow, and I invited everybody," recalled Chea. "Two months before the party and release, we found out he would be deported. My family had no clue what deportation was at the time."

Chea's family had fled Cambodia as political refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge regime. She was not yet one, and her brother was four when they arrived in the United States in 1981.

As U.S. legislators discuss the latest immigration proposal, called the STRIVE Act, immigrants rights advocates are closely considering the proposed bill's impact on family reunification policies. However, immigration policies enacted in 1996 which have led to the imminent deportation of thousands of Southeast Asians are not addressed in the bill.

Chea's brother's story is similar to that of many refugee children adjusting to life in a new country.

Their parents opened a convenience store and worked long hours to support the family, but had little time to watch over them. He got caught up with bad friends and landed himself in some trouble. When he turned 18, Chea's brother, along with four friends, were arrested for a crime they committed while still juveniles.

Due to bad legal advice, he was tried as an adult. His friends were sentenced to two to three years in the California Youth Authority, while he received triple the sentence in the state penitentiary.

His family believed that after he served his time, he would eventually return home as a free man. But, in 1996, immigration laws took effect that allowed non-citizens who were convicted of crimes labeled as "aggravated felonies" to be deported. Click here for the rest of the story.

This is an issue that I have been particularly troubled with for some time. See Chapter 2 in the book, Deporting Our Souls (Cambridge Press 2006).


May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Refugee Roulette

The “Refugee Roulette: Disparities in Asylum Adjudication" by Phil Schrag, Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Andrew Schoenholtz, forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review,  is available at  The article shows the disparities in asylum adjudications between courts, applicants from different nations, and other factors.  The N.Y. Times (here) today has a nice article featuring the study.


May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Growth of the Prison/Industrial Complex

A Wall Street Journal article (May 27) discusses the fact that jails and prisons are overcrowded.  This is a huge issue in California, with a federal judge closely overseeing the state prison system.  Among other reasons:

Tougher mandatory sentences were already straining the nation's jails. Now, the Department of Homeland Security's Border Initiative and its detention of undocumented immigrants has further burdened the system. Federal prisons already have 33% more inmates than they were designed to house and state prisons are similarly overcrowded. The upshot? A severe shortage of prison space -- and a robust outlook for the three biggest private jailers. . . . (emphasis added).

Click here for the full story.

Don't expect an end soon to widespread immigrant detention, jail and prison overcrowding, etc.


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Report: Bush Administration Fails to Accomplish Mission on Immigration

A new report by Third Way (here) finds that enforcement of immigration laws during the first five years of the Bush Administration is down 30% from the last five years of the Clinton Administration, despite an increase in border personnel. The report, entitled Mission Accomplished II, estimates that it would take 109 years to deport all of the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country under the Bush enforcement rate. Click here for a link to a pdf of the report.

Third Way's website describes itself as "a non-profit, non-partisan strategy center for progressives."  CNN (here) describes the group as politically "moderate."

There is another  study on immigration enforcement that is worth reading.  A Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) analysis of millions of detailed records obtained from the Immigration Courts (EOIR) under the Freedom of Information Act offers many insights on immigration enforcement. One intersting fact -- despite the "war on terror," there are few deportations based on charges of terrorism.  A link to the TRAC Report "Immigration Enforcement: The Rhetoric, The Reality" can be found BY clicking on a link on the Law Librarian blog here.


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Honduras and Nicaragua TPS

DHS Announces 18-Month TPS Extensions for Nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua
Employment Authorization Documents Automatically Extended through January 5, 2008

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the publication of Notices in the Federal Register designating an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua.  Under this extension, those who have been granted TPS and who re-register are eligible to live and work in the United States for an additional 18 months.  There are approximately 78,000 nationals of Honduras and 4,000 nationals of Nicaragua (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Honduras or Nicaragua) who may be eligible for re-registration.

DHS has also automatically extended the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for eligible Hondurans and Nicaraguans for six months through January 5, 2008.  This extension will allow sufficient time for eligible TPS beneficiaries to apply for and receive a new EAD without any lapse in employment authorization. 

The extension of TPS for nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua is effective July 5, 2007, and will remain in effect until January 5, 2009.  Nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua who have been granted TPS previously must re-register for the 18-month extension during the 60-day re-registration period, which begins May 29, 2007 and ends July 30, 2007.  This re-registration period is for Honduras and Nicaragua only.  Information about the El Salvador re-registration period will be forthcoming.  Re-registration applications from nationals of El Salvador will not be accepted at this time.

To re-register for TPS under the extension, a TPS beneficiary must submit: (1) Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status) with no fee, (2) Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with fee if requesting a TPS-related EAD or an extension of a TPS-related EAD, and (3) a Biometric fee if 14 years of age or older or under age 14 and requesting an EAD.  Applicants requesting an EAD may request that the Form I-765 fee be waived in accordance with the regulations.  However, the Biometric fee cannot be waived.  Both the Form I-765 and I-821 must be submitted for re-registration.  If the applicant is only seeking to re-register for TPS and not seeking employment authorization, a filing fee for the Form I-765 is not necessary.   

The fee for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is $180 and the fee for biometrics service is $70 as of the date of publication of the most recent Federal Register Notices governing the TPS designations of Honduras and Nicaragua.

To facilitate processing of TPS re-registrations, applicants are strongly encouraged to file as soon as possible after the start of the 60-day re-registration period, (Insert Date).  Failure to submit the required filing fees will result in the rejection of TPS re-registration applications. 

More information is available from the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283.  TPS forms are available from the toll-free USCIS Forms line (800-870-3676) or from the USCIS web site at


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lou Dobbs, Leprosy, and Immigrants

In "Truth, Fiction and Lou Dobbs" by DAVID LEONHARDT writes about the latest controversy about Lou Dobb's "reporting" on immigration that came to light on a “60 Minutes” segment profiling Dobbs a few weeks ago. According to Leonhardt,

a “60 Minutes” producer came across a 2005 news report from Mr. Dobbs’s CNN program on contagious diseases. In the report, one of Mr. Dobbs’s correspondents said there had been 7,000 cases of leprosy in this country over the previous three years, far more than in the past. When Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” sat down to interview Mr. Dobbs on camera, she mentioned the report and told him that there didn’t seem to be much evidence for it. “Well, I can tell you this,” he replied. “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”

The truth is that the evidence behind the statement is jist not there.  The Southern Poverty Law Center later took out advertisements in The New York Times and USA Today demanding that CNN run a correction.   

For more of the story, click here.  How can a reputable international media outlet like CNN put up with such shoddy reporting on one of the most pressing social issues of our generation?


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Lou Dobbs' "truthiness"

Today, David Leonhardt's column in the NYTimes raises significant questions about Lou Dobbs' reporting on immigration.  He started out with an inquiry into a massively inflated leprosy statistic.  Mr. Dobbs claimed that there were 7000 cases of leprosy (naturally, caused by immigration) over the last three years, when in fact there were 7000 cases over the past 30 years, and the number of cases peaked in 1983.

But as he looked deeper Leonhardt discovered more systematic factual manipulation in Dobbs' immigration reporting.  For example, Leonhardt writes:

[Dobbs] has said, for example, that one-third of the inmates in the federal prison system are illegal immigrants. That’s wrong, too. According to the Justice Department, 6 percent of prisoners in this country are noncitizens (compared with 7 percent of the population). For a variety of reasons, the crime rate is actually lower among immigrants than natives.

The larger problem, of course, is that this "one-third" number, and other fictions have entered the national debate over immigration and spurred increasingly harsh rhetoric over the criminality of immigrants.  These claims fuel irrational fear of immigrants and unjustifiably harsh policy responses.

Or, as Leonhardt goes on to write:

The most common complaint about [Dobbs], at least from other journalists, is that his program combines factual reporting with editorializing. But I think this misses the point. Americans, as a rule, are smart enough to handle a program that mixes opinion and facts. The problem with Mr. Dobbs is that he mixes opinion and untruths. He is the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.

The rest of Leonhardt's column is here.  His column also called to mind Daphne Eviatar's scathing August 2006 article on Dobbs in The Nation.

Dobbs has yet to acknowledge the inaccuracy of his leprosy claims on air.  Important debates about our nation's immigration policy should not be driven by stereotype and factual distortion.  And we should demand better from the purported purveyors of national news.


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

The Possible Impact of Immigration Reform on NYC

NINA BERNSTEIN writes that the change to the family visa system in the current immigration reform bill could have an unexpected impact on the Big  According to her story in the N.Y. Times (here) today, the proposed law

could profoundly alter the currents that have long fed the city’s mom and pop entrepreneurship, its kaleidoscopic diversity, and family networks that nurture and help assimilate newcomers. More of the city’s newcomers, compared with immigrants in other parts of the country, continue to gain entry through the very family visas that the pending bill would restrict or abolish — and that would be replaced with a point system based on skills and education.


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Have a DREAM (Act)

Buried in the Senate immigration reform bill is the DREAM Act, which has been introduced and reintroduced in Congress over the last five or more years.  This bill would make it possible for undocumented students to pay resident fees (if they qualify as residents) at public colleges and universities.  This is especially important because undocumented students are currently not eligible for federal student loan programs. For a report on access to higher education for undocumented immigrants, click here.


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Pamela Anderson

150pxpamelaanderson040929_2 Pamela Denise Anderson (born July 1, 1967) is a Canadian-born American actress, sex symbol, glamour model, producer, TV personality, and author. Anderson was born in Ladysmith, British Columbia, 90 km northwest of Victoria, British Columbia. She decided to move to Los Angeles in 1989 to continue her modeling career. Anderson became a naturalized citizen of the United States on May 12, 2004, while retaining her Canadian citizenship. She has lived in southern California since 1989. Anderson's famous ex-husbands are rapper Kid Rock (August 3 2006-November 27 2006) (divorced) and rocker Tommy Lee (19 February 1995-28 February 1998) (divorced). Anderson starred in the hit television show "Baywatch" and played Barbara 'Barb Wire' Kopetski in the film "Barb Wire."  Click here for Anderson's official website.

May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

New SSRN Immigration Articles

"Nationality, Naturalization and Dual Nationality Under Mexican Law" San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-103 JORGE A. VARGAS University of San Diego - School of Law Full Text:

"Birthright Citizenship & the Civic Minimum" Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 07-11 WILLIAM TY MAYTON Emory University School of Law Full Text:

"Canada's Passenger Protect Program: Too Guilty to Fly, Too Innocent to Charge?" FAISAL KUTTY York University - Osgoode Hall Law School Full Text:

"Chairr of the Citizenship Council" SIR NINIAN STEPHEN: A TRIBUTE, Tim McCormack, Cheryl Saunders, eds., Miegunyah Press, 2007 KIM RUBENSTEIN Australian National University - ANU College of Law Full Text:

"We Asked for Workers, But Families Came: Time, Law, and the Family in Immigration and Citizenship" Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 17, Fall 2006 HIROSHI MOTOMURA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - School of Law Full Text:

"DNA Typing: A Technology of Fear" Development, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 28-32, 2006 SUJATHA BYRAVAN Affiliation Unknown Full Text:


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Check Out the Law Librarian Blog on Immigration

The Law Librarian Blog has two immigration posts well worth the read. 

Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Finally Getting It Right (CATO report) (here)

New Research Guide on the Immigration Reform Bill (here)


May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

SG Brief in Noncitizen Bar Admission Case

The brief of the Solicitor General urging the Supreme Court to deny cert. in the case challenging the decision of the Louisiana Supreme Court to prohibit admission as bar members of noncitizens who are not permanent residents can be found at Download leclerc_final_051645_and_0611.pdf

Thanks to Michael Churgin (Texas) for teh assist.


May 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DREAM Act Documentary Film Showing in Houston

House Bill 1403: The Story of Undocumented Students in Texas

Talento Bilingue de Houston is proud to present House Bill 1403: The Story of Undocumented Students in Texas as part of the TBH Summer First Film Fridays series on June 1st, 2007 at 7:00 pm. In this powerful and timely documentary, Houston filmmakers Gabriel Lopez and Julita Rincon explore the dilemma of undocumented students in the State of Texas from the view point of the students, professors and Texas State Representatives.

“Making this film was life changing for us. To sit in front of all the interviewees and just listen to their stories was nothing short of amazing,” according to filmmakers Gabriel Lopez and Julita Rincon. “We were able to listen to their passions and motivations and be inspired… House Bill 1403 is a personal journey for thousands of students all over Texas that has become the ray of light that shines hope for a better education.”

Testimonial participants include:
Tatcho Mindiola, Director of the Center for Mexican-American Studies, U of H
Dr. Nestor Rodriguez, Co-director of Center for Immigration Studies, UofH
Marie Theresa Hernandez, Prof. of Classical Languages, University of Houston
David Johnston, Director of College Center, Lee high school
Micheal Olivas, University of Houston Law School
Rick Noriega, Texas State Representative
Linda Christofilis, Legislative aid to Rep. Noriega

Audience members will have an opportunity to meet with the filmmakers Gabriel Lopez and Julita Rincon with a few of the participants following the screening.

Screening: June 1, 2007 at 7:00 pm. TBH 333 S. Jensen Dr. Houston 77003
Tickets: $5.00 General Admission

To purchase tickets:
-Online at
-By telephone 713-222-1213
-Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
A map is available on-line at a href="">
For more information, please call at 713.222.1213.

    "Doing this film was life changing for us. To sit in front of all the interviewees and just listen to their stories was nothing short of amazing. We were able to listen to their passions and motivations and be inspired. We so often hear from mainstream media who the undocumented are supposed to be and to be able to produce our own media to educate the community is an obligation we felt. The making of the film was difficult as well. Because neither of us knew anything about filmmaking, we had to learn everything from scratch; from what cameras we could use to how to edit with what software. It took a lot of time and many frustrating learning experiences. All we started out with was a vision of educating the world on who the undocumented students are and what their story is; the rest, we learned the hard way".
    -Julita & Gabriel


May 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

New Filing Fees to Begin July 30

An announcement from USCIS:

USCIS Sets Final Fee Schedule to Build an Immigration Service for the 21st Century

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a new fee schedule for immigration benefit applications and petitions.  In consideration of public comments received, USCIS has made some substantive changes that will benefit some families with children applying for adjustment of status and prospective adoptive parents who experience delays in finalizing their adoptions.  The new fee schedule rule also expands the availability of waivers and exemptions.  The final schedule, effective on July 30, 2007, largely implements the fee structure described in the proposed rule published on Feb. 1, 2007.

Even with the changes, the new schedule will ensure that USCIS will have sufficient funding to fully recover its costs of doing business and also enable USCIS to meet national security and public safety concerns, prevent and detect fraud, and invest in comprehensive transformation efforts – all leading to a more efficient and effective immigration system. 


USCIS last updated its fees on October 26, 2005, based solely on inflationary increases.  Early in 2006, the agency completed its first comprehensive fee review in more than ten years and, as a result, found that current fee revenues were insufficient to recover full operating costs.  Based on that review, USCIS published a proposed fee structure in the Federal Register on Feb. 1, 2007 seeking comments from the public.

In addition to publication of the proposed rule, during the 60-day public comment period, USCIS leadership reached out to the community to encourage the public to submit comments on the rule to make sure their views were known to USCIS.  USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez also testified on February 14th before a Congressional subcommittee to discuss the proposed fee structure. 

USCIS received comments from more than 3,900 individuals and organizations – including refugee and immigrant service and advocacy organizations, public policy groups, state and local governmental entities, educational and other not-for-profit institutions, Members of Congress, corporations, and the general public. 


Q.  Please explain the revisions to the final rule from that which was proposed in February.

A.  The agency received more than 3,900 comments on the proposed fee schedule.  The final rule includes some substantive changes from the February fee proposal, without sacrificing the funding necessary for USCIS to strengthen the security and integrity of the immigration system, improve customer service, and modernize business operations for the 21st century.  A more thorough discussion of these changes are found in the final rule – however, below is a synopsis:

•    Children who are filing a concurrent Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence) with their parents will see a 25 percent reduction from the proposed filing fee;
•    Prospective Adoptive Parents may now receive one free extension of the approval of Form
I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) if they have not submitted a Form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative) for an orphan;
•    Fee waivers may be requested by Form I-485 filers if their eligibility stems from asylum status, victims of human trafficking, certain juvenile immigrants, or self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act;
•    Fee waivers may be requested for Form I-485 filers if they apply under programs where, by law, they do not have to demonstrate that they will not be a public charge;
•    Added “Special Immigrant-Juvenile” as a category of applicants exempt from the $375 filing fee for Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant); and
•    USCIS officials will now be able to waive the $80 biometric fee for individuals who have been granted a fee waiver for their respective application/petition.

It is important to note that these changes, in particular the filing fee reduction for children filing with a concurrent Form I-485 with their parents, are in line with the Administration’s policy that each application fee should be set at the level to recover the costs of processing and adjudicating that application.  In the case of
I-485s for children filed with their parents, the costs of processing that application is less because the large majority of Form I-485s are filed by persons older than 14.  Our analysis found a 35 percent difference in the average time it takes to process an I-485 by someone under fourteen years of age, as compared to the time it takes to process a case filed by someone older.

Q.  When will the new fee schedule become effective?

A.   The new fee schedule will be effective on July 30, 2007.  Applications or petitions postmarked or filed on or after that date will require the new fees.

Q.  If an applicant files a Form I-485 to adjust status before the rule is effective, will he/she have to pay for future interim benefits?

A.  Yes.  An applicant for adjustment of status who applies before the fee rule becomes effective will continue to have to file separate applications with fees for employment and travel authorization.  Those who file an adjustment of status application (Form I-485) after the new fee schedule is effective will not have to pay the additional fees for employment and travel authorization as these costs have been included in the new adjustment of status application fee.

Q.  How did USCIS engage with the public on the proposed fee schedule?

A.  The comment period included not only an opportunity for the public to respond in writing, but also allowed USCIS leadership to meet with stakeholders throughout the country.  USCIS officials conducted “question and answer” sessions in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Dallas, Phoenix and Denver.  USCIS also discussed the issue through media interviews and with community-based organizations.  Throughout this effort, it has been USCIS’ intent to inform the public about this rule and encourage them to submit comments.  We believe we were successful given not only the volume of comments received, but also the value and usefulness of those comments.

Q.  Are the public comments still available for public viewing?

A.  Yes.  The public comments are available on under docket #USCIS-2006-0044.   A synopsis of those comments is also available in the fee rule itself, available for viewing at

Q.  Why is USCIS allowing fee waivers for certain classes of applicants filing for adjustment of status? Isn’t a need-based fee waiver inconsistent with the status or benefit being sought?

A.  After considering the humanitarian purposes of certain statutes and reviewing the potential numbers of such applicants, USCIS decided to provide that a Form I-485 may be subject to a fee waiver when the person’s eligibility for adjustment of status stems from asylum status, ‘T’ status (victims of human trafficking) and self petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), or where by law the person otherwise is not required to demonstrate that he or she will not become a public charge, including but not limited to, Adjustment of Status Applications for Special Immigrant – Juveniles, or based on the Cuban Adjustment Act, Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, and the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act.  Because an Adjustment of Status Application cannot be filed until some time after an alien has been granted ‘T’ or VAWA status, the final rule does not provide any blanket exemptions from the fee for filing Form I-485 since that time in the United States may have provided the alien some financial capabilities.  Also, because additional fee waivers would have been inconsistent with the financial capability requirements for adjustment of status, the final rule does not expand fee waiver eligibility in such cases any further.  The changes made to the fee waiver and exemption eligibility criteria did increase fee waiver and exemption costs, but this increased cost did not cause an overall increase in fees because of the small number of affected applications and petitions.

Q.  Many comments recommended alternative funding sources such as appropriated funds.  Why didn’t you consider this?

A.  Law and policy have long supported the proposition that those applying for immigration benefits should bear the costs of their processing.  Thus, in this final rule, USCIS continues to adopt a fee schedule to recover its costs through user fees.  While it is true that Congress has, in the past, enacted intermittent appropriations to subsidize the operations of USCIS, the President’s budget for FY 2008 does not request an appropriated subsidy, except for specific funds for the expansion of the Employment Eligibility Verification program.  Even if an appropriation were requested, USCIS doubts that it would receive all of the necessary funding required to meet its mission responsibilities.  Continuing to recover full costs at this time is necessary so as not to delay service delivery to applicants and petitioners.

Further, using appropriated funds to support USCIS is risky because the demand for immigration benefits may change rapidly with little notice.  For example, appropriated funds provided for naturalization benefits could likely be insufficient if there was an increase in the number of naturalization application benefits submitted.  In this instance, USCIS would have to cut back on services (which would increase processing times) to cover the costs of processing the additional applications.  Reliance on appropriations in the past has contributed to the funding problems USCIS has faced recently.  USCIS’ new fee rule eliminates this problem because the fees are based on a robust model that incorporates all costs relating to services thereby providing a more stable source of funding.

Q.   How long before applicants and petitioners begin seeing improvements in USCIS service as a result of this new fee schedule?

A.  USCIS is focused on continuous improvement.  For example, we are committed to substantial reductions in processing times by the end of FY 2008 for four key applications: (1) Form I-90, Application to Renew or Replace a Permanent Resident Card; (2) Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; (3) Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; and (4) Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.  These four products represent almost one-third of USCIS’ total workload.  By the end of FY 2008 (Sept. 30, 2008), USCIS plans to reduce processing times for each of these from six months to four months.  Applications for naturalization are projected to be reduced from seven months to five (when the ceremony at which a person takes the Oath of Allegiance is included as part of the process).  Thus, our customers will see a significant improvement in the first full fiscal year following the fee adjustments.  Also, by the end of FY 2009, we intend to reduce by 20 percent the average case processing times across the spectrum of applications and petitions. 

Premium processing fees will be used to transform USCIS from a paper-based process to an electronic environment, making it possible to incorporate more effective processing of low risk applicants and better identification of higher risk individuals.  The new operational concept will be based on the types of online customer accounts used in the private sector in order to facilitate transactions, track activities, and reduce identity fraud.  The solution will also help to meet customer expectations for on-demand information and immediate real-time electronic service over the Internet.

Q.  You’ve raised fees before with the promise of improving service.  What’s the difference between now and then?

A.  The clear distinction between this new fee schedule and prior fee schedules is that the new fee schedule does not simply reflect costs and performance retrospectively, locking USCIS into a revenue stream that at best allows it to maintain the status quo.  Instead the new fee schedule is designed to provide for an adequate and sustainable level of investment in staff, infrastructure, and processes to improve USCIS’ administration of the nation’s immigration laws.

USCIS plans to review fees every two years to ensure that it is recovering the full cost of processing immigration benefit petitions/applications.  USCIS is committed to update its fees through a similar analysis at least once every two years.  In comparison to fee reviews over the last decade, which essentially made retrospective adjustments on a narrowly calculated fee review, future fee reviews will combine assumptions from recent experiences and incorporate productivity gains resulting from the modernization of operations (which may allow for cost reductions) and from prospective activity changes (such as those that may arise from additional security measures or performance changes).

USCIS continues to seek ways to improve productivity while decreasing costs.  USCIS is firmly committed to seeking new ways of doing business and reengineering processes in order to contain costs and pass on the savings to all of its customers.  Large portions of this fee restructuring are designed to invest revenue in improvements to improve efficiency and effectiveness that will help reduce agency costs.  Additionally, for the first time, USCIS has incorporated a productivity measure into the fee model to ensure that productivity gains resulting from automated business processes and better technology will be factored into future fee reviews. 

Q.  Will the changes in the final rule affect USCIS’ ability to recover the full costs of operations and achieve promised service improvements?

A.  No.  The overall amount of the fee increase is the same as what was proposed even with its changes.  The changes made to the Form I-485 fee, for example, merely redistribute the same costs as proposed within the population of applicants for this benefit in order to reduce the fees for families filing for adjustment of status.  The other changes made had no impact on the fee schedule given the fairly small volume numbers associated with the affected applications and petitions.  For example, USCIS did not reduce the naturalization fee, as doing so would increase the fees for other immigration benefit applications and petitions.  In sum, the new fee schedule will not sacrifice the funding necessary for USCIS to strengthen the security and integrity of the immigration system, improve customer service, and modernize business operations for the 21st century.

Q.  How can I obtain detailed information about the comments you received and how you responded?

A.  Discussion of the public comments is featured in the final fee rule, available for review on USCIS’ Web site at  While the number of comments received was relatively large, many were similar in content and issue.  Accordingly, we were able to group the comments into the following categories:  (a) Relative Amount of Fees (including recovery of additional costs and enhancements, improvement in service and reduction in inefficiencies, level of fees, multiple biometric data requests, premium processing, etc.; (b) Alternative Sources of Funding (includes appropriated funds); (c) Specific Benefit Application and Petition Fees (e.g., naturalization application, application to adjust status, employment authorization for students, etc.; (d) Fee Waivers and Exemptions (including victims and asylee adjustments, special immigrant – juvenile, and biometric fees); (e) Authority to Set and Collect Fees (includes discussion on the agency’s general authority for charging fees); and (f) Methods Used to Determine Fee Amounts (e.g., methodology, alternative budget modeling, calculating specific processing requirements, etc.).

Q.  Where can I obtain more information on fee waivers?

A.  Fee waiver information is available on USCIS’ Web site at (click on “Immigration Forms” in the banner, then “Fee Waiver Guidance” under Related Links.

Q.  Where can I obtain more information about the new fee schedule? 

A.  The final rule is available on USCIS’ Web site at, in addition to a detailed chart that identifies the new fees for immigration benefit applications and petitions.


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