Tuesday, May 29, 2007
George Soros (born August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary, as György Schwartz) is an American financial speculator, stock investor, philanthropist, and political activist. Currently, he is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute and is also a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations. His support for the Solidarity labor movement in Poland, as well as the Czechoslovakian human rights organization Charter 77, contributed to ending Soviet Union political dominance in those countries.His funding and organization of Georgia's Rose Revolution was considered by Russian and Western observers to have been crucial to its success, although Soros said his role has been "greatly exaggerated." In the United States, he is known for having donated large sums of money in a failed effort to defeat President George W. Bush's bid for reelection in 2004. With an estimated current net worth of around $8.5 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 80th-richest person in the world.
In 1956 Soros moved to the United States, where he worked as an arbitrage trader with F. M. Mayer from 1956 to 1959 and as an analyst with Wertheim and Company from 1959 to 1963. Throughout this time, but mostly in the 1950s, Soros developed a philosophy of "reflexivity" based on the ideas of Popper. Reflexivity, as used by Soros, is the belief that self-awareness is part of the environment: actions tend to cause disruptions in economic equilibriums, which may run counter to the progression of free-market systems. Soros realized, however, that he would not make any money from the concept of reflexivity until he went into investing on his own. He began to investigate how to deal in investments. From 1963 to 1973 he worked at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, where he attained the position of vice-president. Soros finally concluded that he was a better investor than he was a philosopher or an executive. In 1967 he persuaded the company to set up an offshore investment fund, First Eagle, for him to run; in 1969 the company founded a second fund for Soros, the Double Eagle hedge fund. When investment regulations restricted his ability to run the funds as he wished, he quit his position in 1973 and established a private investment company that eventually evolved into the Quantum Fund. He has stated that his intent was to earn enough money on Wall Street to support himself as an author and philosopher - he calculated that $500,000 after five years would be possible and adequate. After all those years, his net worth reached an estimated $11 billion. He is also a former member of the Carlyle investment group.
Monday, May 28, 2007
As Congress considers immigration reform and its administrative complexities, do not forget just how efficient our current immigration bureaucracy -- the descendant of the much-maligned Immigration & Naturalization Service -- is (or is not). That bureaucracy will be in charge of implementation of immigration reform, which should make us all pause.
Spencer S. Hsu for the Washington Post (May 28, 2007) writes (here) that most of the Department of Homeland Security's immigration enforcement work is consumed not with stopping terrorists and unraveling their support networks, but with relatively minor administrative violations, according to a new analysis of federal records. DHS authorities filed charges against more than 800,000 people in U.S. immigration court between 2004 and 2006, but only 126 of them were accused of terrorism- or national-security-related crimes, according to the study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
Hsu also writes (here) about the incredible inefficiencies in the immigration beauracracy.
It is beyond me to provide daily updates on what is going on in teh courts of appeals on immigration matters. Dan Kowalski at www.bibdaily.com does a super job of that. But there are three recent cases that might be of general interest to our readers.
Special Notice to Practioners or Parties in Immigration Cases re: Lolong v. Gonzales, -- F.3d --, 2007 WL 1309564 (9th Cir. May 7, 2007) (here)
An en banc court of the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in Lolong v. Gonzales, -- F.3d --, 2007 WL 1309564 (9th Cir. May 7, 2007) (No. 03-72384), dealing with its jurisdiction (or lack thereof) to review voluntary departure decisions of the BIA after the denial of an asylum claim . The Ninth Circuit last week issued the following notice about the case:
The Court has approximately forty fully briefed cases and nearly three hundred partially briefed cases that have held in abeyance pending the en banc court's decision. Regardless of whether there is a petition for writ of certiorari filed with the Supreme Court, the Court Executive Committee has directed that the Clerk's office generate briefing schedules in these cases. Accordingly, there is no need for parties to make a motion or contact us at this time. If, however, you do not receive an order giving you an opportunity to file additional briefing by June 25, 2007, please make a motion for appropriate relief in your case.
Seventh Circuit on FGM, Cameroon
The Seventh Circuit (here) in Agbor v. Gonzales (May 25, 2007) addressed a case of female genital multilation in a case invokving an asylum applicant from Cameroon:
"The BIA disregarded key evidence that is specific to the petitioners' case, relied on background evidence that is only generally to the contrary, and then faulted the petitioners for failing to offer specific evidence overcoming the background evidence. This type of analysis cannot withstand even deferential judicial review."
Eleventh Circuit on Venezuela, Persecution
The Eleventh Circuit, in a rare occurrence reversed the denial of an asylum claim involving Venezuelan applicants: "Although each of the incidents taken separately would not establish persecution, ... when considered together the events compel the conclusion that Ramon and Delgado suffered past persecution due to their political opinions." Delgado v. U.S. Atty. Gen'l, (May 25, 2007). It would not be surprising if the court was subtly influenced by the fact that the applicants fled Venezuela, which has a government not on the best of terms with the U.S. government.
Border Fence Violates Treaty, Increases Flood Risk (and Will Fail to Significantly Curtail Immigration)
The Houston Chronicle (here) reports that a planned, much-debated fence along the U.S.-Mexico border designed to keep people from crossing the Rio Grande could exacerbate flooding and skew the national boundary, the International Boundary and Water Commission, a binational commission, said last Wednesday. An impermeable fence anywhere between the river and levees, which can be as far as 1 1/2 miles from the river itself, could cause flooding in addition to violating a 1970 treaty, said Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission. The treaty declared the international boundary at the midpoint of the river and prohibited construction of anything that could deflect or obstruct the water flow and harm the other side. "If you have a structure that is going to alter the river channel, then you are in effect altering the boundary between the United States and Mexico," she said.
Moreover, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic candidate for president said Sunday that building a fence between the United States and Mexico will not stop illegal immigration. “This wall is wrong. This wall is a terrible symbol between two countries that are friends,” he said, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” (here). In addition, Richardson said that a 10-foot wall would lead to 11-foot ladders.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic candidate for president said Sunday that building a fence between the United States and Mexico will not stop illegal immigration.
"This wall is wrong. This wall is a terrible symbol between two countries that are friends," he said, on NBC’s "Meet the Press." In addition, Richardson said that a 10-foot wall would lead to 11-foot ladders.
Luis Alberto Urrea, the author of "The Devil's Highway," has a thoughtful op/ed in the Washington Post (here) on illegal immigration. Read his book for a fascinating study -- based on a true story -- of the hazards of human trafficking along the U.S./Mexico border.
My colleague Jack Ayer has an amusing -- and his first -- blog entry about immigration on Underbelly (here), which is worth a daily read. Among other things, Jack admits that no Jack Bauer "is going to school-bus 12 million illegals back to Mexico."
"Beef versus Rice"
Civilization versus Lice
"They need to be eating U.S. beef. It's good for them.
They'll like it. And so we're working hard to get that beef market opened up."
George Bush, NY Times, May 25, 2007
No more mad cows in America
No hoof disease or dirty dreams
Just pure beef from U.S. cows
For the New Chinese
Something a billion yellow folks need to eat
Instead of all that damned soft rice.
Why, you can stir-fry American beef
Chinese-style with ginger, scallions
and Szechuan chiles
Or, have fast-food burger patties
with a tweak of soya sauce or MSG.
America's a flexible, friendly nation
A truly cow-eating un-cowardly nation
We got past white rice and yellow lice
Centuries ago, when we dumped
That China Tea into Boston Harbor.
Open your mouth, Chinee Boy and Chinee Girl:
Eat American beef is good for you:
Stronger teeth, longer tongue, taller bones,
Wider back, bigger brain.
You might even end up Chinese/American
Best of the East and Best of the West
No secret to the Model Minority:
Open Your Mouth and Swallow the Beef
All you Hungry & Dispossessed
Don't you Cower anymore
Just eat the damned Cow.
Russell C. Leong
UCLA Department of English
& Department of Asian American Studies
Editor, Amerasia Journal
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Sent by an African American who recently joined Latino activists on a tour of the Mexican border to learn more about the impact US immigration policies have on the lives of those who try to enter the US.
To the Fallen in the Deserts of Death
In memory of those who went searching for a better life
and found only death
In memory of those
who risked everything and lost everything
They went with hope in their eyes
and struggle in their soul
In memory of those who will never come back
we offer these flowers...
with respect we say:
Your thirst, is our thirst.
Your hunger, is our hunger.
Your pain, is our pain.
Your anguish, your bitterness and your agony,
are also ours.
We are a scream that demands justice...
So that no one, ever again, has to abandon their land,
Their beliefs, their dead, their children, their parents, their family.
Their roots, their culture, their identity...
We are a silence that takes
So that no one has to go searching for a destiny in other lands.
So that no one has to go into exile
and waste away alone
We are a voice in the desert that cries
Education for all!
Opportunity for all!
Work for all!
Bread for all!
Freedom for all!
Justice for all!
We are a voice that the desert cannot swallow up
To demand that our native land give equally to all of its children
for a dignified and decent life
"For the right to live in peace"
Dave Altimari of the Harford Courant reports on an immigration scam:
Ralph Cucciniello has claimed to be several things in what authorities call a long history as a scam artist - a television producer, a psychologist, even a nursing home operator.
But investigators say it took a phony affiliation with Yale for Cucciniello to really hit pay dirt. Posing as a law professor with an expertise in immigration law, they say, Cucciniello has scammed hundreds of undocumented workers from Ireland into thinking he could secure them a green card - for a $5,000 fee.
Law enforcement officials in New York and Connecticut are scrambling to find all his victims and answer a nagging question: How did a scam artist who once was in the federal witness protection program secure office space in one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, as well as a school identification card and e-mail address?
"The word went out in the Irish community all across the country that there was this attorney at the Yale Law School who had found a loophole in the immigration laws and could get you a green card quickly," said Inspector Timothy Reardon of the New Haven State's Attorney's Office. Reardon opened an investigation into Cucciniello a few weeks ago when New York City police arrested Cucciniello on charges of grand larceny and impersonating an attorney. Click here for the full story.
Frank Davies writes in the San Jose Mercury News that Californians have a big interest in immigration reform:
As the U.S. Senate grapples with a massive overhaul of the nation's immigration rules, various groups in California are lobbying feverishly to change or defend parts of a bipartisan bill that has drawn fire from the right, left and center almost from the moment it was announced.
But supporters of the Senate bill, who defeated several crippling amendments this week, have a powerful dynamic behind their efforts. It's the only big legislative initiative that has the active support of President Bush and many Democratic leaders in Congress.
Tech companies and other large employers are working to change a proposal for future immigration in the Senate bill that could make it harder to bring in or keep skilled employees. The current system, based on family ties and employer sponsorship, would be replaced by a complicated point system that would give more weight to education and skills. Click here for the rest of the story.
Mitch Stacy of the Associated Press, writes today about the problems of family separation in the current immigration system:
Keith Campbell and his Japanese-born wife spent his 47th birthday half a world apart because of an immigration dispute. Critics say the case illustrates how making mistakes in getting visas and permanent U.S. residency can lead to life-changing consequences for families.
"It's kind of a surreal thing," Campbell said recently as he waited to have his daily Web-cam chat with his wife, Akiko, and their two sons, ages 4 and 1, who are in Nagano, Japan. "We haven't done anything wrong."
Immigration officials say Akiko Campbell, 41, committed fraud in 1998 when she entered the U.S. with a fiancee visa after she had already gotten married to Keith. Now she's now prohibited from re-entering the country for 10 years.
Since she left in January, Keith Campbell has spent time furiously writing lawmakers, printing bumper stickers, talking to anyone who would listen and putting up a Web site — http://www.bringakikohome.com — to tell their story.
The family's last immediate hope of being reunited on American soil is a hardship waiver, which is still being considered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
American Families United, a group formed last year to advocate for families separated by immigration policies, says what is happening to the Campbells is more common than people think, but the issue has been overshadowed lately by the larger debate over illegal immigrants. Click here for the rest of the story.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
More response relevant to my Tuesday post on the Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007:
Filipinos for Affirmative Action (FAA) is opposed to the Senate Immigration Compromise introduced on May 21st, because: it continues to criminalize and scapegoat immigrants; it further militarizes the border; and ramps up interior enforcement measures including detentions, employer sanctions and an electronic ID requirement for all workers. The bill shifts immigration policy from a family-based focus to one that favors temporary employment and the implementation of a point system; this immigration bill does little to fix the backlog of family petitions, and proposes an unworkable legalization plan that would benefit few undocumented.
We urge pro-immigrant and justice-minded organizations to reject this bill.
FAA is opposed to the way the bill frames immigration as a national security issue. This framework has produced heavy-handed, misdirected and costly enforcement provisions that are at the forefront of the Senate bill. Illogically, the bill criminalizes the very people we trust to provide healthcare, childcare, build our homes, work in agricultural fields and meat packing, in high tech assembly, in hotels, restaurants and janitorial services, to name a few. The bill dramatically increases the number of temporary workers to 400,000-600,000 in spite of the inherently abusive and exploitative nature of these programs. See the report "Near Slavery" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
We oppose the shift away from permanent, family-based immigration toward a temporary employment system, and the implementation of an elitist point system, that favors people with higher levels of education, English speakers and high level technical skills, over family reunification. Family based immigration has been the bedrock of immigration policy since 1965, and should continue to be. Family based immigration is a rational approach for promoting stable immigrant communities. It is a product of the civil rights movement which sought to end discriminatory immigration laws and policies that, up until 1965 preferred immigrants from Europe, preventing the establishment of Asian and Latino families through racist exclusionary laws.
The point system will also exacerbate the economic instability of sending countries as people in their prime working years and the highly skilled and educated are "sucked out" of underdeveloped countries in what is another massive "brain drain."
The Senate Bill does not increase the number of available family visas to cure the backlogs that prevent nearly 5 million people with approved visa applications from reuniting with their families. This provision is aimed at slowing down the integration of American society by discouraging immigrants from sinking roots and building communities. A model proposal to fix the backlogs is offered by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who proposes to double the number of available family visas. Under the Senate bill, family members who have been waiting for a visa--in some cases like the Philippines, for 10 to 20 years--will continue to wait; it does not offer a timely solution.
The path to "legalization" for the 12 million undocumented in this plan is fraught with obstacles and is a serious deterrent to the much-needed enfranchisement of this population on the margins of society. The exorbitant fees (that can add up to $10k over time), the requirement of continuous employment and particularly the 'touch back' provision makes this plan unworkable and unrealistic. Applications for permanent status will not even begin (or be triggered) until the enforcement provisions are put into place; this could be two to three years.
The legalization proposal requires the undocumented to return to their country of origin (touch back) to apply for legal status based on the new point system. Since the point system favors the educated and highly skilled, millions of the undocumented will not be eligible. Many of the undocumented will likely view "touch back" as a potential trap and not avail of it. Even under the best circumstances, the proposed "legalization" process could take 10 to 15 years; during which time any number of variables could compromise the eligibility of applicants. This plan is not intended to legalize very many of the undocumented.
The Senate Bill also does not fix the the damage from the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996, which gutted the basic rights of immigrants, denied immigrants a right to due process, and expanded the offenses for detention and deportation.
We are disappointed that the Democratic-majority that we celebrated last November has produced a sinister and harmful bill. The rights of immigrants should not be sacrificed or bartered away for political 'brownie points' to benefit either political party in their quest for the White House. We urge Congress to protect Family Reunification as the cornerstone of immigration policy, reject the expansion of temporary worker programs and the establishment of the proposed point system. Immigrants have a right to be treated equally, with full legal, employment, human and civil rights.
Immigrants are not to blame for the global forces that have driven us out of our home countries. Beefed-up interior enforcement, the construction of more detention centers and increased militarization of the border will not stop the migration of people and plans to do so should be rejected. These provisions are simply a huge profit-making opportunity for "favored" corporations at the national security trough.
We call upon our national leaders to address the root causes for the world migration of 200+ million people by ending unfair trade agreements (NAFTA, AFTA, etc), environmental degradation in underdeveloped countries, and war.
FAA urges the immigrant, civil rights, labor and faith community to persuade your Senators and Representatives to oppose the Senate Immigration Compromise.
According to Holly Ramer of the Associated Press, Rudy Giuliani is critical of the Senate bill being debated:
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday called the immigration bill championed by one of his presidential rivals (John McCain) a hodgepodge that won't accomplish what should be its central goal: tracking everyone who crosses the border.
"We need to know everyone who's in the United States who comes here from a foreign country. That has to be the goal of our immigration law," he said. "If you make that the objective of your law, you will clear up a lot of the confusion that presently exists both in our present immigration law and in what Congress is trying to do right now, which kind of goes in 10 different directions without any central focus." Click here for the rest of the story.
Friday, May 25, 2007
A couple more reactions to my blog post on Tuesday:
I think the race and class analysis is incredibly important.
Regarding the work contributions of family-sponsored immigrants, it seems to me that another critical piece is the household labor--and child care in particular--that many FS immigrants perform, particularly grandparents. Like the household labor of women, this is typically not captured in our economic analyses, but relatives are clearly doing much of the family labor necessary to enable others to work in the formal labor market.
I'm sure that people will start to address this in greater detail, but it would also be interesting to consider how exactly a minimum-wage (or sub-minimum wage) worker would go about putting together the $5k penalty. As you point out, most will be unable to do so, but I imagine others will turn to loan sharks, brokers, coyotes, etc.
Associate Professor of Law
American University Washington College of Law
As painful as it is to say it, I think that if the bill can't be improved it needs to fail. I'm not sure what's realistic in the House, but from the outside I don't see much hope of this improving a lot. Unfortunately, I think the right is smart enough not to kill this because they'd love to blame us if it dies and if it passes they're happy to legalize a lot of people to get a system that reflects their values in place.
This bill won't end unauthorized migration. If anything, the new system that will be left standing when the Zs are through is even more disconnected to the real economic and family pressures that give us unauthorized migration. The point system is simply not responsive to the types of jobs that most the 12 million (though I suspect many less than 12 million will really qualify when the dust clears) do now. There will be more of such jobs in the future as this is where job growth is, and many of the 12 million will move on to other things once they have legal status. Meanwhile, temporary workers will continue to be human and can be expected to create family ties and life ambitions here that will make them balk at leaving. The new bars will make it even more impossible to legalize status, and we'll build another larger undocumented population that will be even further marginalized. On top of that we'll have the "legal" marginalized population of Ys and Hs. The right may want the inequitable society this will create but I don't think we can accept it.
As to family unity, as I read the bill one critical gap in the Z program for workers who have close family outside the United States - they will not be able to bring them in as derivatives if they aren't already here. That means probably over a decade to reunify with a spouse or minor children. Also, the Z derivative provisions are lousy for kids who are dependent on parents to get and maintain status. The DREAM Act provisions are great, but dropout rates have been enormous (Latina girls dropout more than African American boys) and lots of kids won't make it and need Z. A noncollege-bound kid who has been here years but whose parent has enough DUIs to be ineligible will be left out in the cold since their status is tied to their parents (unless they turn 16 and get a full-time job - do labor laws permit full-time employment at 16?).
Am I right that there are no guarantees that Zs get LPR status eventually? People with Zs will have to get green cards, if at all, under the merit-based point system? I read the bill to say they are expressly prohibited from getting immigrant visas under the family system or any other way, except possibly as Us - in other words, a Z visa can't be a backdoor 245(i). The supplemental points available to those with Z visas, don't seem at all a guarantee that they will ever achieve enough points to "win" in any given year (and since all applications under this system are valid only for the year in which filed, if you don't have enough points to make the cut that year you have to reapply the next). This also is premised on the idea that the backlog will be gone in 8 years, and no backlog reduction program has ever worked in the past.
The immigration clinic has plenty of clients, or potential clients we've turned away because they had no relief under current law, who would benefit from a Z visa in the short-term. And the private immigration bar will make a fortune filing petitions for Z applicants if this goes through. But if this really is the historic opportunity for reform that we all seem to assume it is, i.e. there won't be another opportunity for major reform for some time, I have to say that I don't want the system that this will create to be the baseline for the next 20 to 50 years.
From a more cynical political perspective, by the time any of the Zs can vote there will be massive frustration from immigrants with this system so I wouldn't expect them to be fondly remembering the Democratics role in getting them Z status.
Associate Professor of Law
UNLV Boyd School of Law
An Iranian-American woman detained in Tehran is being held illegally and has been repeatedly denied access to attorneys, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi told CNN (here) on Friday. Haleh Esfandiari and other Iranian-Americans held in Iran are political prisoners, said Ebadi, one of Esfandiari's attorneys. Ebadi won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and is the founder of the Center for Defense of Human Rights in Tehran.
Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi (here) explains the new immigration bill's point system, concluding that the US has replaced "Give me you tired, your poor," etc, with "What can brown do for you?" Mandvi also denies that immigration reform is really about "the ethnicity of the Mexicans." It would be far funnier if it was not SO true.
NPR (here) has an interesting story on the experience of the UK, Canada, and Australia with a "point system" for immigrants, which blog readers know, is one of the more controversial aspects of the Senate immigration reform proposal. Bottom line: there is no silver bullet and point systems have a mixed track record.