The end of the Congressional session saw a flurry of activity surrounding the current backlog of long-delayed Green Cards for Indian and Chinese nationals who have been working in the US for years, primarily in the IT industry. Neither the Democrats’ nor the Republicans’ competing bills to increase the number of visas available to foreign STEM graduates gets at the heart of the problem, namely the fact that Congress is ill-equipped to respond in any kind of timely fashion to America’s changing economy. The Republican solution comes at the expense of the diversity visa lottery, while the Democrats claim new Green Cards should be allocated for advanced degree graduates of US institutions and should not impact the availability of visas under the diversity lottery. Each side feels the other’s approach is wrong-headed. However, they are both missing the point. What is most needed is a body of experts who can take Green Card issuance out of politics and develop target numbers that can go up and down depending on the needs of American industry and business.
Information about the bill introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) can be found here: http://www.gop.gov/bill/112/2/hr6429
The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that a small group of Deferred Action applications has been approved. Since the application process became available on August 15, approximately 72,000 applications have been submitted, a much smaller number than anticipated. With free clinics and workshops offering legal advice and application assistance, why have so few of the more than 1.7 million eligible applicants actually applied? While there are a number of potential reasons for the low application numbers, there seem to be two main issues causing potential DACA applicants to delay their applications:
1. The upcoming election
Should Mitt Romney become our next president, he has suggested that he will reverse the Deferred Action initiative. Uncertainty over what will then happen to the beneficiaries of Deferred Action, their families, and individuals who have submitted applications has deterred a number of potential applicants from applying.
2. Fear of divulging information
In applying for Deferred Action, individuals must provide information to the US Government, including personal information, information about their families, and any and all Social Security Numbers and identities used during their time in the US. Failing to provide this information or lying about it on application forms is considered fraud. USCIS has promised not to turn individuals over to ICE unless they pose a threat to national security, but they have yet to answer other questions, such as what will happen to individuals who admit to using fake identities or Social Security numbers.
With many questions still unanswered and many rules still undefined, many are hesitant to take advantage of Deferred Action. For those who are concerned, it may be advisable to wait to submit an application until USCIS has provided further clarification on the initiative’s grey areas.
Actualización sobre . . .
Programa de Acción Diferida
19 de Junio del 2012
Mooers Immigration ha recibido muchas consultas acerca del anuncio del Presidente Obama hecho el 15 de Junio del 2012 para aplicar determinadas disposiciones de la ley DREAM a través de decisiones administrativas. La gran cantidad de interés en esta iniciativa significa que las comunidades inmigrantes en nuestra región y en tódo el pais entienden que la acción del Presidente podría ser la respuesta (por lo menos una respuesta parcial) a sus oraciones, desafortunadamente también significa que notarios, asesores de inmigración y otros proveedores de fraude de inmigración ya estan pensando en aprovecharse de inmigrantes inocentes.
Para poner a tódos al día sobre la situación de este nuevo programa llamado “Acción Diferida”, Mooers Immigration esta proporcionando esta actualización. Nuestro plan es proporcionar futuras actualizaciones a medida que aprendemos más sobre el programa del Presidente. Por favor, no dude en compartir esto con las familias, individuos, empresas, escuelas y organizaciones que se verán impactadas por este programa.
Esto es lo que sabemos:
Acción Diferida dará a los individuos que califican varios beneficios. Ellos podrán trabajar, obtener un Número de Seguro Social y sabrán que estarán libres de deportación por el tiempo que dure el programa. Las aprovaciones serán concedidas iniciando con un periodo de dos años, y serán renovables.
Sin embargo, esto NO es actualmente una ruta de acceso a la Residencia o a la Ciudadanía . Este beneficio TAMPOCO SE EXTENDERA a los miembros de la familia. Cada uno debe calificar por sí mismo.
Estos son los Requerimientos de Elegibilidad Para la Acción Diferida anunciados por USCIS y ICE:
Tenga en cuenta que las reglas NO hacen diferencia entre aquellos que se les ha vencido su visa, entrado al pais sin autorización, o quienes están aquí de forma legal en un estatus que no les permite trabajar.
Actividades que se esperan en las próximas semanas:
a) Anuncio de USCIS de como estarán manejando la Acción Diferida;
b) Publicación de las formas requeridas (actualmente no hay una forma formal para este beneficio), costos y otros detalles importantes;
c) Potencial acción de la corte por parte de los enemigos de los inmigrantes para bloquear la Administración de Obama y evitar que siga adelante con su Programa de Acción Diferida;
d) USCIS está bajo las órdenes del Presidente para iniciar implementando el programa el 15 de Agosto del 2012.
Aquí está nuestra comprensión actual de como trabajará el programa:
1) El proceso requerirá a cada aplicante que demuestre que cumple con cada uno de los requerimientos de elegibilidad. El gobierno no otorgará la Acción Diferida sin que el solicitante aporte pruebas acerca de cada criterio.
2) Para los que están familiarizados con el Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS), El Programa de Acción Diferida puede ser similar.
3) El director de la USCIS indicó en una conferencia telefónica el Lunes que podría no haber fecha de finalización para el periodo de inscripción de la Acción Diferida. Es probable que ésto pueda significar que muchos de los que actualmente no califican puedan calificar en un futuro, incluyendo:
4) La definición de “Delito Menor Significativo” es muy amplio. Esto es importante porque una sola ofensa o delito hace al individuo inelegible para la Acción Diferida. Delito Menor Significativo incluye: Manejar bajo la influencia; “Violencia, Amenazas o Asalto,” incluyendo violencia doméstica; obstrucción de la justicia, soborno, fuga illegal de la detención, el enjuiciamiento o la escena de un accidente, posesión illegal de un arma de fuego, la distribución de drogas, el tráfico o la posesión de las mismas.
5) El potencial impacto indirecto negativo sobre los miembros de familia que no reunen los requisitos para la Acción Diferida sigue en espera de una aclaración adicional.
La Administración claramente quiere limitar la Acción Diferida a solo a los jóvenes que:
Por favor háganos saber si tiene alguna pregunta o comentario acerca del Programa de Acción Diferida. Anticipamos con placer proporcional actualizaciones adicionales en las semanas y meses venideros.
Update on . . .
Deferred Action Program
June 19, 2012
Mooers Immigration has received many inquiries regarding President Obama’s June 15, 2012 announcement to implement certain provisions of the DREAM Act through administrative determinations. The large amount of interest in this initiative means that immigrant communities in our region and across the country understand that the President’s action could be the answer (at least a partial answer) to their prayers. Unfortunately, it also means that notarios, immigration consultants and other purveyors of immigration fraud are already preying on unsuspecting immigrants.
To bring everyone up to date on the status of this new program, called “Deferred Action”, Mooers Immigration is providing this update. Our plan is to provide future updates as we learn more about the President’s program. Please feel free to share this with families, individuals, businesses, schools and organizations that will be impacted by this program.
Here is what we know:
Deferred Action will give qualifying individuals several benefits. They will be able to work, obtain a Social Security Number and know that they will be free from deportation for the length of the program. Approvals will be granted for an initial 2-year period, and will be renewable.
However, this is NOT currently a path to a Green Card or to Citizenship. This benefit will also NOT EXTEND to family members. Everyone must qualify on his or her own.
Here are the Eligibility Requirements for Deferred Action as announced by USCIS and ICE:
Notice that the rules DO NOT make a difference between those who overstayed their visas, entered the country without authorization, or who are currently here legally in a status that does not allow them to work.
Expected activities in the coming weeks:
a) Announcement by USCIS regarding how it will handle Deferred Action;
b) Publication of the required forms (there is currently no formal form for this benefit), filing fees and other important details;
c) Potential court action by immigrant foes to block the Obama Administration from pursuing its Deferred Action program;
d) USCIS is under orders from the President to begin implementing the program by August 15, 2012.
Here is our current understanding of how the program will work:
1) The process will require each applicant to prove that he or she meets each of the eligibility requirements. The Government will not grant Deferred Action without the applicant providing evidence about each criterion.
2) For those familiar with the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), the Deferred Action program may have a similar feel.
3) The USCIS Director indicated in a conference call on Monday that there may be no end date to the sign-up period for Deferred Action. This may likely mean that many of those who do not currently qualify may be able to qualify in the future, including:
4) The definition of “Significant Misdemeanor” is very broad. This is important because a single offense makes an individual ineligible for Deferred Action. Significant Misdemeanor includes: Driving Under the Influence; “violence, threats, or assault,” including domestic violence; obstruction of justice or bribery; unlawful flight from arrest, prosecution or the scene of an accident; unlawful possession of a firearm; drug distribution, trafficking, or possession.
5) The potential for indirect adverse impact on family members who do not qualify for Deferred Action still awaits additional clarification.
The Administration clearly wants to limit Deferred Action to only those young people who:
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about Deferred Action. We look forwarding to providing additional updates in the coming weeks and months.
Since 9/11, we have tightened our borders and amended our immigration laws in an effort to exclude potentially dangerous individuals from infiltrating our country. While we may now be safer than we were 10 years ago, this increased security has come at a cost. The number of international visitors to the US has severely decreased because obtaining even a simple tourist visa has become a difficult and lengthy process.
On Thursday, January 19 in front of Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle in Orlando, Florida, President Obama presented a new plan to make visiting the US easier, especially for Brazilian and Chinese nationals. By significantly decreasing the wait time for the majority of non-immigrant visa interviews, President Obama hopes to boost tourism and, as a result, the economy. A greater influx of tourists would inevitably result in billions of dollars of increased revenue and, according to White House estimates, the potential for more than 1 million new jobs in the next ten years. In addition to decreasing visa wait times, President Obama also plans to increase the number of countries whose citizens can enter the US without a visa. The following ABC News article provides a wealth of information about President Obama’s plan and the positive impact of tourism on our economy:
Unemployment and immigration are at the forefront of this year’s election discussions. While immigrants are often accused of taking jobs from US workers, a recent study by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and the Partnership for a New American Economy suggests that the immigrant community is actually largely responsible for creating American jobs. The study, entitled “Immigration and American Jobs,” found that “from 2000 to 2007, an additional 100 foreign-born workers in STEM fields with advanced degrees from US universities is associated with an additional 262 jobs among US natives.” The study further states that there is “no evidence that foreign-born workers, taken in the aggregate, hurt US employment.” The entire study can be found on the Partnership for A New American Economy’s website:
In his Business Week article, “Fix U.S. Immigration Policy, Create Jobs,” Vivek Wadhwa, Director of Research at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, highlights the results of the aforementioned study and provides research of his own. He “found that in a quarter of the U.S. engineering and technology companies founded from 1995 to 2005, the chief executive or lead technologist was foreign-born. In Silicon Valley, the percentage of immigrant-founded startups was much higher – 52 percent.” The article also examines proposed legislation regarding immigrant employment and explores the length that other countries go to in order to recruit foreign-born entrepreneurs:
The bottom line is that if we want job creators, we need immigration policies that enable us to recruit and support more of these risk-taking immigrants who work around the clock to build their American Dream.
On January 11,2012, the Washington Post featured a story on how complicated even the simplest – at least at first blush – immigration fixes can be. The article examines the real life repercussions of HR 3012, The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. I commend the story to your reading:
Bottom line, what’s fair to some groups is completely unfair to others and vice versa. This bill was marketed by its proponents as being all win and no loss. Unfortunately, in immigration, like in life, one never sees something where there are only winners and no losers.
In recent weeks, the Obama Administration has announced two major initiatives designed to assist individuals and families while at the same time stopping short of an immigrant amnesty.
The first, prosecutorial discretion, reflects a common-sense decision to target US Government resources to go after those considered truly bad actors – namely criminal offenders, individuals who defy court orders, etc. Those individuals whose only transgression was coming to the US to achieve the American Dream may see their cases deferred, delayed, or administratively closed in the coming months. There are many questions to be answered on this new policy, and DHS, DOJ, and immigrant experts are meeting to find answers to them.
The second initiative involves waivers of inadmissibility for the spouses of US citizens and permanent residents. Under current law, foreign born spouses barred from the US are eligible for a Green Card if the marriage is genuine AND the US citizen or permanent resident can show that he or she would suffer extreme hardship if the foreign spouse could not immigrate to the US. The waiver application can now be filed in the US before the person must leave the country for their Consulate interview. Since there is a two year wait for DHS to complete work on the waiver application, this means that families no longer have to spend years away from one another while a foreign spouse awaits an answer on the waiver.
It is good to see the Obama Administration taking positive measures to help our immigrant communities.
The election has been over for a week, and the last contests have finally been decided. What the election holds for immigration law and policy is anyone’s guess at this point.
On this Veteran’s Day 2010, we give thanks to those who have served around the world to make our country and planet a better place. As we do so, we also pause to analyze where our country stands with those who have sacrificed by leaving their own countries to immigrate to the US in search of the American dream.
Here is several elements of our current broken immigration system:
a. Green Card lines for Master’s and Bachelor’s degreed professionals are measured in years, with the current wait for many of the most talented people six to ten years. This is on top of the approximately ten years they have already spent in the US studying and working. These are smart, talented people that no country can have enough of. Frustrated with the long lines, many have given up and returned home or immigrated to Europe or Canada where they will begin to help the economies in these areas grow and prosper.
b. Only 5,000 Green Cards are issued each year to the people who occupy unskilled positions. Since their family members count against this number, this means that only approximately 1,250 workers are let in each year to perform (legally) ALL of the unskilled work across America. With just over 3,300 counties in the US, this means that there is only one worker to fill every unfilled unskilled position for three counties.
Think about it – in the Washington Metropolitan area alone this means that all of the unskilled work of Fairfax County, Washington, DC and Montgomery County should be left to one person. Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties would also have to share one legal worker among them. In New York/New Jersey, one worker would have to do all the jobs located in Westchester County, New York City and Union County.
Three workers to fill all the jobs in nine of the most populated jurisdictions in the world. Our system is indeed broken.
c. Family members (sons, daughters and spouses) of permanent residents are separated by months and years of waiting in lines caused by insufficient quota numbers.
d. States are feeling even more empowered to pass anti-immigration legislation. Throughout the US, we are already witnessing a sharp increase in the number of “Arizona”-type legislation filed in State Legislatures. We can expect to see tighter restrictions and increased local enforcement of Federal law. The responsibility of “good Americans” to fear foreigners will be the rallying cry of the anti-immigrant forces set to take over many State capitals in December and January.
The anti-immigrant groups’ goal of “attrition” continues through the combination of a bad economy and record deportations from increased enforcement under the Obama Administration. As the Obama Administration concludes 2010 with a second record year of deportations, the number of foreign nationals living in the US without lawful status continues its decline. In addition, with so many people out of work, there are fewer jobs that Americans are unwilling to take. This is likely to change when the economy returns to good health and better jobs return.
Political parties are missing the opportunity to lock up the bulk of the “immigrant vote” by refusing to take real action to pass immigration reform. The first major political party that gives more than lip-service to immigration reform will likely benefit for generations to come from grateful new citizens. Unfortunately, both parties have been driven by short-term fears of blow-back by a small but vocal band of anti-immigrant vigilantes. So long as the few control the will of those who represent the many, immigration reform will be just an unrealized dream.
Congress and the President have six weeks to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We will know on Christmas Eve whether they were able to get anything done on this very important issue.
As always, let us know how you feel. Send a message to MI@mooers.net.
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