Board Sets Favorable Precedent for Children of Fiancées (K-2 Visa Holders)

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) applauds the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) for advancing family unity in its June 23, 2011 decision, Matter of Le. The Board’s long-awaited ruling favorably resolves the issue of whether the child of a fiancée of a U.S. citizen (a K-2 visa holder), who legally entered the U.S. when under age 21, is eligible for adjustment of status even after turning age 21. The Board concluded that the age of the child is “fixed” at the time the child is admitted to the United States. In doing so, it rejected the Department of Homeland Security’s position that a K-2 visa holder is eligible only if he or she is under 21 at the time the adjustment of status application is adjudicated.

The Board’s decision is consistent with the position that the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association advocated in amicus briefs submitted to the Board in approximately a half dozen other cases where the child turned 21 after being admitted to the United States. The noncitizens in these and the many other cases before both Immigration Judges and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices throughout the country now will be able to become lawful permanent residents as Congress intended.

 

Committee Approves Bill to Reauthorize Temporary Nurse Visa Program

United States House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary

Committee Approves Bill to Reauthorize Temporary Nurse Visa Program

Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill (H.R. 1933) on June 23, 2011 to help hospitals in inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas that have difficulty in attracting nurses.  Specifically, it reauthorizes the H-1C temporary visa program that allows foreign nurses to come to the U.S. to work in health professional shortage areas for an additional three years.

The bill was reported favorably to the House floor by voice vote.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the bill’s sponsor, today praised the Committee vote.

Chairman Smith: “A number of American hospitals have great difficulty attracting nurses.  These include hospitals that serve mostly poor patients in inner-city neighborhoods and some hospitals in rural areas.

“For example, St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago is the only remaining hospital in an area of over 100,000 people and almost all of its patients live in poverty.  St. Bernard almost closed its doors in 1992, primarily because of its inability to attract registered nurses.

“I introduced H.R. 1933 to help St. Bernard and other similar hospitals.  The bill reauthorizes the H-1C program for an additional three years.  Just as nurses ensure care for the sick, the H-1C program ensures continued care for patients in inner-city and rural communities.”

About the H-1C Temporary Visa Program:
In 1999, Congress passed the “Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act” to help hospitals that serve mostly poor patients in inner-city neighborhoods and some hospitals in rural areas.  It created a new “H-1C” temporary registered nurse visa program with 500 visas available each year that allow nurses to stay for three years.  The visa program expired in December 2009.

To be able to petition for a foreign nurse, an employer has to meet four conditions.  First, the employer has to be located in a health professional shortage area.  Second, the employer has to have at least 190 acute care beds.  Third, a certain percentage of the employer’s patients have to be Medicare patients.  And fourth, a certain percentage of patients have to be Medicaid patients.

The H-1C program also contains protections for American nurses.  For instance, a hospital has to agree to take timely and significant steps to recruit American nurses.   Also, hospitals have to pay the prevailing wage.  It also requires that foreign nurses cannot comprise more than one-third of a hospital’s registered nurses.

 

A Framework for Lasting Reform: Sen. Menendez Introduces “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011”

Washington, D.C.June 22, 2011, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and John Kerry (D-MA) introduced the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011,” a bill that seeks to fix a system that has been broken for far too long. The legislation proposes a balance of solutions, such as enhanced enforcement measures and a mandatory E-verify program which is paired with strategies to address the current population of undocumented workers, improvements to regulating future flows of legal immigration, a commission to study and regulate temporary worker programs, as well as efforts to support the integration of immigrants into America.

The following is a statement from the American Immigration Council’s Executive Director, Ben Johnson:

“We welcome the introduction of the ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011’ the first immigration reform bill of the 112th Congress that proposes a framework for lasting reform. Senator Menendez and co-sponsors should be commended for offering the country an alternative to the enforcement-only bills proposed by immigration restrictionists. While some politicians propose mandatory E-verify without any counter-balancing attempt to help needed workers retain their jobs, the Menendez bill proposes a strategy for the current population of unauthorized immigrants to get right with the law, implementing mandatory E-verify only in the context of broader system reforms.

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act’ presents Congress with a clear choice between enforcement-only bills that squander the country’s resources and human capital, and thoughtful, long-range legislation that puts in place the tools for a 21st century immigration system. Members of Congress have, thus far, provided only simplistic enforcement-only solutions and sound bites. The Menendez bill, however, gives Congress the chance to prove that it is willing to put good policy over political expediency, engage in a serious and constructive debate over immigration reform, and focus on realistic solutions rather than passing this year’s political Band-aid.”

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For press inquiries contact Seth Hoy at shoy@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7509.

 

Jose Antonio Vargas: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant

Jose Antonio Vargas was interviewed by ABC News' Dan Harris. (/AP Photo/ABC News

A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, has just outed himself as an Undocumented Immigrant in a major article that is posted on the New York Times website.  ABC News devoted its Nightline program to the story.  AILA National representatives have been working with ABC News on background. Here are the links:

Nightline link. Aired (Thursday) at 11:35 ET: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/immigration-journalist-jose-antonio-vargas-fights-dream-act/story?id=13899697

The New York Times piece is available now online: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/magazine/my-life-as-an-undocumented-immigrant.html?hp

Crackdown on Fake Immigration Lawyers

In a recent New York Times article by Julia Preston, Immigration officials are teaming up with federal and state prosecutors, the Federal Trade Commission, lawyers’ groups and immigrant advocate organizations in a new nationwide effort to combat an epidemic of schemes by people posing as immigration lawyers.

The campaign, which will begin in Washington on Thursday, is an effort by the Obama administration to step up one form of assistance to immigrant communities, which have intensified their criticism of President Obama as they have faced a record pace of deportations in the last two years.

Officials say this is the first time a crackdown on fake immigration lawyers has been coordinated broadly among federal and state agencies and local immigrant aid organizations. Federal appeals courts in New York, California and other regions with major immigrant populations have been deluged with cases of immigrants who sought legal status through the courts, but ended up in labyrinths leading to deportation because of incompetent or fraudulent lawyers.

The effort involves a blitz of advertising to alert immigrants on how to recognize fake lawyers and consultants, and an effort by prosecutors to bring criminal cases to serve as examples. A program by the immigration court system will expand the number of local nonprofit organizations trained and certified to provide basic legal services to immigrants.

The initiative is led by Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency whose director, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, is a former federal prosecutor in California. In that position, Mr. Mayorkas said in an interview, he had brought a number of cases against people illegally practicing immigration law. He said it was “heartbreaking” to learn, when he came to the agency in Washington, that the problem had not abated.

Since January of last year, the immigration agency has tested the program in pilots in New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio and four other cities.

For more on this story, click here.

POWER Act Introduced to Combat Worker Exploitation

From the National Immigration Law Center:

The POWER Act Would Thwart Bad-Apple Employers Who Abuse the System and Gain Unfair Advantage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-C)  yesterday introduced the POWER (Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation) Act, legislation that that, if passed, would expand the right to organize and offer key protections to all workers. Below is a statement from Emily Tulli, policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center:

“For too long, bad-apple employers have taken advantage of the broken immigration system by reporting workers who assert their labor rights to immigration enforcement officials, hurting organizing efforts for all workers. The POWER Act would put an end to the unfair advantage unscrupulous employers currently enjoy by closing the legal loophole between immigration and labor law. In doing so, the POWER Act will finally level the playing field for employers who play by the rules and respect workers’ rights. We hope colleagues of Sen. Menendez, Rep. Miller, and Rep. Chu will follow in their footsteps and pass this much-needed legislation.”

For more information, click here.

 

National Initiative to Combat Immigration Services Scams

DHS, DOJ and FTC Collaborate with State and Local Partners in Unprecedented Effort

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government unveiled Thursday June 9th a multi-agency, nationwide initiative to combat immigration services scams. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) and theFederal Trade Commission (FTC) are leading this historic effort.

This initiative targets immigration scams involving the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL),which occurs when legal advice and/or representation regarding immigration matters is provided by anindividual who is not an attorney or accredited representative.

“We are dedicated to protecting vulnerable immigrants from those who seek to exploit them,” said U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “Through our sustainedoutreach, enforcement and education efforts, and our close collaboration with our federal, state, and localpartners, we will provide the communities we serve with the help needed to combat this perniciousproblem.”

This initiative is set upon three pillars—enforcement, education and continued collaboration—designed to stop UPIL scams and prosecute those who are responsible; educate immigrants about thesescams and how to avoid them; and inform immigrants about the legal immigration process and where tofind legitimate legal advice and representation.

“This coordinated initiative targets those who prey on immigrant communities by making promises theydo not keep and charging for services they are not qualified to provide,” said Tony West, AssistantAttorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “We are attacking this problem boththrough aggressive civil and criminal enforcement and by connecting qualified lawyers with victims whoare trying to navigate a complicated immigration system.”

The Department of Justice, through United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Civil Division’s Office ofConsumer Protection Litigation, is investigating and prosecuting dozens of cases against so-called“notarios.” In the last year, DOJ has worked with investigators at the FBI, ICE, and USCIS, and with stateand local partners, to secure convictions—with sentences up to eight years in prison and forfeiture andrestitution of over $1.8 million. This is in addition to the many actions at the state and local levels thathave been filed against individuals and businesses engaged in immigration services scams.

ICE has also long been pursuing immigration services fraud cases in part through its 18 Document andBenefit Fraud Task Force offices across the country. In a recent case in West Palm Beach, Fla., ICEHomeland Security Investigations agents arrested an individual on May 26 who had posed as an attorneyand processed more than 3,000 fraudulent immigration applications.

“Notarios and other illegal immigration service providers take advantage of unsuspecting immigrantstrying to navigate the immigration system,” said ICE Director John Morton. “ICE will continue to workwith our federal, state and local partners to combat notario fraud and protect the integrity of the legalimmigration system.”

Meanwhile, FTC has made it easier for consumers to alert law enforcement about these scams by creatinga new Immigration Services code in the Consumer Sentinel Network, its online consumer complaintdatabase. “This is a central location for consumers to report complaints and for our law enforcementpartners to find and share information about scams,” said FTC Commissioner Edith Ramírez.

Sentinel, as the network is called, is a secure online database that holds more than 6 million consumerfraud complaints. Shared with more than 2,000 law enforcement entities including ICE, DOJ and nowUSCIS, it has become the primary repository for complaints involving allegations of immigration servicesscams. Sentinel will serve as an investigative tool for USCIS Fraud Detection and National Securityofficers, and will bolster communication between organizations on immigration services scam-relatedcases.

The initiative’s education component will focus on empowering immigrant communities to avoidunscrupulous individuals and businesses engaged in UPIL. USCIS’s efforts will be primarily aimed atproviding immigrants with the information they need to make informed choices when seeking legaladvice and representation on immigration matters, and reminding them that The Wrong Help Can Hurt.

USCIS unveiled a new brochure, a poster, public service announcements for use on radio and inprint publications, billboard and transit ads, and a new Web resource center that includes a video. Allprinted materials are available in English and Spanish, and materials in 12 additional languages areavailable online. To bolster this outreach effort, DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)and FTC will produce and distribute educational materials for different populations that may be affected by immigration services scams.

As part of the initiative’s emphasis on providing qualified legal assistance to this vulnerable population, EOIR’s Recognition and Accreditation program, DOJ, USCIS, and FTC are working together to increasethe number of EOIR-recognized organizations and accredited representatives, particularly in underservedareas. Organizations and representatives seeking to provide lawful immigration services must berecognized by EOIR.

“EOIR is hard at work to increase access for our government partners, nonprofit organizations, andindividuals in immigration proceedings,” said EOIR Director Juan P. Osuna. “Through a combination ofefforts, including reporting fraud, educating the public and dedicated outreach, we are bolstering ourefforts toward growing a force of legitimate legal services providers and getting rid of fraudsters.”

EOIR is improving its Recognition and Accreditation Program by increasing communication with thepublic, providing easier application processing, and giving timely, accurate information to the publicregarding which organizations have representatives available to represent individuals in proceedings.

DOJ’s Civil Division and Access to Justice Initiative are involved in an effort to train more attorneys tohandle the cases of immigration fraud victims. As a result of these efforts, DOJ announced thatnongovernmental organizations, working with local partners, will organize a pro bono legal clinic inBaltimore later this summer to assist victims of an enforcement action announced by the FTCtoday. Driven by a continuing dialogue with DOJ, the City Bar of New York, the New York State BarAssociation, the New York Office of the Attorney General, the Katzmann Study Group, andnongovernmental organizations, a legal training program will be launched this summer in New York Cityto expand the pool of lawyers who can assist in immigration matters.

For more information about USCIS’s education initiative, please visit www.uscis.gov/avoidscams or follow on Twitter, YouTube and the USCIS blog, The Beacon.

A list of federal, state and local immigration services cases and additional information regarding EOIR’s Recognition and Accreditation Program are available on DOJ’s website.

To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTCHELP(1-877-382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Left By The Ship: Documentary about Filipino Amerasians Screening

June 8th at 10 pm at the Cedar Lane Cinemas in Teaneck, New Jersey (Hoboken International Film Festival)

The documentary about Amerasians in the Philippines Winner of the Jason Mak award for Best Social justice film  at theDisorient Asian American Film festival

 

Robert, Jr, Charlene and Margarita are Amerasians: the sons and daughters of Filipina women (often impoverished prostitutes) and American Sailors stationed at the Subic Bay US Naval Base, once the largest outside mainland USA. When the Base was closed 20 years ago, thousands of Amerasian children were left behind. Unlike Amerasian children from other countries (like Vietnam, Korea, Thailand or Laos)  Filipino Amerasians were never recognized by the US government.  Why? There is no official explanation, but many say that it is because the Philippines was not a war zone and Filipino Amerasians are better off then their Vietnamese, Korean or Thai counterparts.

Yet Amerasians in the Philippines suffer a great amount of discrimination (especially the sons and daughters of African American servicemen) and have a very hard life, they live in poverty and cannot escape their plight,  because they carry their (parent’s) history written on their faces.

Left by the Ship follows the lives of four Amerasians in the Philippines as they struggle with prejudice, family problems and identity related issues, trying to overcome a past they are in no way responsible for.

Italian Filmmakers Emma Rossi Landi and Alberto Vendemmiati spent two years living with the protagonists of the film in the Philippines. This results in a rich collection of scenes which intimately portray the sense of loss that Filipino Amerasians carry inside for their whole lives. The film follows the character’s  struggle,  keeping a light touch,with a beautiful cinematographic style and compelling storytelling, where narratives that often turn in unexpected ways.

Left By The Ship aims to shed light on the injustice suffered by an underrepresented community, to provoke thought about how global policies can affect innocent people all the way down into the depth of their souls, and ask universal questions about family and personal relationships. As one of our characters says “There is no reconciliation without recognition”.

LEFT BY THE SHIP trailer English from visitorq on Vimeo.

NEXT SCREENINGS

July 9th at 8 pm at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA (Artivist Film Festival)

The Film Festival of Colorado, between June 24th and 26th


OTHER AWARDS AND FESTIVALS

*Winner Cinema Doc Prize, Festival dei Popoli 2010
*Winner Best Subject Matter, Cinema.Doc circuit 2010
-In competition, Visioni Doc 2011
-Close up section, Bergamo film meeting 2011
-In competition, Riverside International Film Festival 2011
*Best Social Justice Film, Disorient Asian American Film festival 2011
*Silver Palm Award, Mexico International Film Festival
*Certificate of Excellence, Sky Fest 2011
-Official Selection, Love unlimited film Festival
-Official Selection, Little Rock film Festival 2011
-Sole e Luna Film Festival Palermo, Italy 2011 (July 2011)
*Silver Ace Award, Las Vegas Film Festival 2011 (July2011)

Website www.leftbytheship.com

Directors notes http://www.leftbytheship.com/directorsnotes.html

Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Left-By-The-Ship-documentary/161245143887302

Thanks for reading, please spread the news and  do not miss LEFT BY THE SHIP!

All the Best to Emma and Alberto on their film tour!

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Left By The Ship is a VisitorQ, Raicinema, ITVS international and YLE co-production. It will be aired on PBS Independent Lens during the 2011/12 season.


 

Why are so many of the answers on the U.S. citizenship test wrong?

A recently naturalized U.S. citizen, Dafna Linzer, in an entertaining article on Slate, wonders why the U.S. government can’t get the questions for the naturalization test quite right.

From Slate:

Take Question 36. It asks applicants to name two members of the president’s Cabinet. Among the correct answers is “Vice President.” The vice president is a cabinet-level officer but he’s not a Cabinet member. Cabinet members are unelected heads of executive departments, such as the Defense Department, or the State Department.

The official naturalization test booklet even hints as much: “The president may appoint other government officials to the cabinet but no elected official may serve on the cabinet while in office.” Note to Homeland Security: The vice president is elected.

Still, a wonderful press officer in the New York immigration office noted that the White House’s own Web site lists the vice president as a member of the Cabinet. It’s still wrong, I explained. I told her that my partner wrote an entire book about the vice president and won a Pulitzer Prize for the stories. I was pretty sure about this one. A parade of constitutional scholars backed me up.

In fact, the Constitution aligns the vice president more closely with the legislative branch as president of the Senate. Not until well into the 20th century did the vice president even attend Cabinet meetings.

Then there is Question 12: What is the “rule of law”?

I showed it to lawyers and law professors. They were stumped.

There are four acceptable answers: “Everyone must follow the law”; “Leaders must obey the law”; “Government must obey the law”; “No one is above the law.”

Judge Richard Posner, the constitutional scholar who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, was unhappy. “These are all incorrect,” he wrote me. “The rule of law means that judges decide cases ‘without respect of persons,’ that is, without considering the social status, attractiveness, etc. of the parties or their lawyers.”

So, where do these questions come from?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a department within Homeland Security, spent six years consulting scholars, educators, and historians before the current test was introduced in 2008. The result: 100 questions and answers designed to provide an in-depth treatment of U.S. history and government.

“The goal of the naturalization test is to ensure America’s newest citizens have mastered a basic knowledge of U.S. history and have a solid foundation to continue to expand their understanding as they embark on life as U.S. citizens,” said Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for USCIS.

For more on this story, click here.

 

Sarah Palin Against Amnesty and the DREAM Act

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin visited Ellis Island last week.

“It’s one of the symbols, of course, of our liberty, and it’s a reminder too that immigrants built this country,” said Palin.

Twelve million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1924.

The possible 2012 presidential contender has said she supports the Arizona law that would allow police to ask people to show proof that they are in the country legally. She’s against amnesty and the DREAM Act, which would give citizenship to some of the children of illegal immigrants who pursue higher education or the military.

“The DREAM Act, well see, the immigrants of the past, they had to literally and figuratively stand in line to become U.S. citizens,” said Palin. “I’d like to see that continue, and unfortunately the DREAM Act kind of usurps that, the system.”

The system is on display at the Ellis Island Museum. Palin took a brief tour and then took a U.S. Parks staff boat to Liberty Island. She was there for more than an hour.

For more on this story, click here.

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