House Voted to Eliminate Per-Country Caps on Employment Visas

Washington, DC–The House voted last week to end per-country caps on worker-based immigration visas, a move that should benefit skilled Indian and Chinese residents seeking to stay in the United States and the high-tech companies who hire them.

The legislation, which passed 389-15, was a rare example of bipartisan accord on immigration, an issue that largely has been avoided during the current session of Congress because of the political sensitivities involved.
The measure would eliminate the current law that says employment-based visas to any one country can’t exceed 7 percent of the total number of such visas given out. Instead, permanent residence visas or green cards would be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

The bill, said its sponsor, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, “does encourage high-skilled immigrants who were educated in the U.S. to stay and help build our economy rather than using the skills they learned here to aid our competitor nations.”
Currently, the State Department issues about 140,000 such green cards a year to foreign nationals working in the United States, often after getting degrees from U.S. universities.

The bill also changes family-based visa limits from 7 percent per country to 15 percent per country, an adjustment that could slightly ease the backlog for naturalized citizens, particularly from Mexico and the Philippines, trying to bring relatives into the country.

NY Senator Charles Schumer, who heads the Senate Judiciary panel on immigration, said he planned to move the bill as quickly as possible in the Senate, “where we expect it to find overwhelming support.” He said the legislation would “remove outdated constraints that prevent us from attracting the kind of innovators who can create job growth in America.”

The Obama administration in its first two years failed in several major efforts to change immigration law, and this year the issue has largely been off the table, with Republicans making clear that anything suggesting amnesty for those in the country illegally would be rejected.

The Chaffetz bill does not change the number of visas being issued, and groups representing immigrants said the bill would do little to resolve pressing immigration issues. However, they applauded Congress for showing it can act.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said that although the bill won’t bring significant changes, “we think this is a positive step forward.” He said it was a good sign that “Republicans and Democrats are actually working on solutions.”

Still, because there will be no increase in visas issued, there will be losers. Hosin “David” Lee, president of the Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association, said the bill would force engineers from South Korea to wait an additional two years in their immigration process to get green cards.

But Compete America, a group representing high-tech companies such as Google and Microsoft and research institutes, said the bill would correct a problem in which very small countries are subject to the same 7 percent cap as large countries such as India and China, which account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population.

New ICE Toll Free Number for Detainees to Call and New Detainer Form

 

WASHINGTON — As part of a broader effort to improve our immigration enforcement process and prioritize resources to focus on threats to public safety, repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, and immigration fugitives while continuing to strengthen oversight of the nation’s immigration detention system and facilitate legal immigration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced new measures to ensure that individuals being held by state or local law enforcement on immigration detainers are properly notified about their potential removal from the country and are made aware of their rights.

The new measures include a new detainer form and the launch of a toll-free hotline – (855) 448-6903 – that detained individuals can call if they believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime. The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services will be available in several languages from 7 a.m. until midnight (Eastern) seven days a week. ICE personnel will collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office for immediate action.

The new form also includes:

  • A request that the law enforcement agency (LEA) provide the subject of the detainer a copy of the detainer form and includes a notice advising the subject that ICE intends to assume custody. The notice informs these individuals that ICE has requested the LEA maintain custody beyond the time when they would have otherwise been released by the state or local law enforcement authorities based on their criminal charges or convictions. The notice also includes Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese translations.
  • Further emphasis that LEAs may only hold an individual for a period not to exceed 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays). It also advises individuals that if ICE does not take them into custody within the 48 hours, they should contact the LEA or entity that is holding them to inquire about their release from state or local custody.
  • Directions for individuals who may have a civil rights or civil liberties complaint regarding ICE activities.
  • The new form allows ICE to make the detainer operative only upon the individual’s conviction of the offense for which he or she was arrested.
  • The new form makes clear that the existence of a detainer should not impact or prejudice the individual’s conditions of detention, including matters related to the individual’s custody classification, work or quarter assignments.

An immigration detainer (Form I-247) is a notice that DHS issues to federal, state and local LEAs to inform them that ICE intends to assume custody of an individual in the LEA’s custody and to request that the LEA notify ICE as soon as possible prior to the time when LEA would otherwise release the individual.

Detainers help ensure that individuals who are convicted of criminal charges or have previously been removed are not released back into the community to potentially commit more crimes. Detainers are critical tools in assisting ICE’s identification and removal of criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, illegal re-entrants, recent border crossers and others who have no legal right to remain in the United States.

Colbert Report’s “Tip of the Hat” to IPC for Offensive “Anchor Baby” Amendment

  Washington, DC- The American Heritage dictionary quickly amended its definition of “anchor baby” to include information on its derogatory use, thanks to the tireless crusade of American Immigration Council’s Immigration Policy Center (IPC).

Stephen Colbert’s witty and satirical show quickly pays homage to this rather drastic amendment in his latest edition of “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger.”

Despite its humor, the skit does shed light on the very real issue of how offensive words are manipulated to further anti-immigration sentiments.

As IPC’s director, Mary Giovagnoli, points out, “unfortunately, until we come to a real resolution of our immigration crisis, the language is only likely to get worse.  Bad policies are often cloaked in misleading language. Style trumps substance. Emotions beat out logic. Every day, we work to change that equation, creating the space for better policies and better solutions.”

Updating the definition of “anchor baby” is one small but definitive step into that right direction.

Watch:

Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs: Starting Businesses and Creating Jobs

Washington D.C. – Today, the Immigration Policy Center releases, Our American Immigrant Entrepreneurs: The Women by Susan Pearce, Elizabeth Clifford and Reena Tandon.  Today, immigrant women entrepreneurs are in every region of the United States. In 2010, 40 percent of all immigrant business owners were women—1,451,091 immigrant men and 980,575 immigrant women. That same year, 20 percent of all women business owners were foreign-born.

In a tele-briefing to release the report, author Susan Pearce noted “This report is the result of our research into that less-visible population that is starting various enterprises every day. Why do we focus on women? Not only does the image of a woman not come to mind when one hears the word “immigrant,” but their particular experiences are under-represented in reports on immigration. We also equally emphasize these women’s nonmaterial contributions. Women immigrant entrepreneurs are providing training for the next generation, supporting charities and activism through their volunteer contributions and anchoring communities.”
Entrepreneur Rubina Chaudhary, president of MARRS Services, Inc., a Management, Engineering, and Environmental firm discussed her enterprise. “MARRS employs 50 full time and part-time professional and support staff of which 78% are U.S. citizens, 54% are U.S. born citizens and 36% are women. I am grateful for the opportunities that I, an immigrant woman in the U.S., have had to not only achieve my goal of providing for my children’s education but also to have the opportunity to create jobs and help others, native born and immigrants, men and women, students and entrepreneurs.”
Entrepreneur Yolanda Voss of Yolanda Voss Fashion Gallery shared her story. “I came to the land of my dreams in 1962 and my goal was to become a prominent designer. In 1980, Yolanda Voss Studio International became incorporated. In 1991, I opened Yolanda Voss Fashion Gallery. The latest recession has affected our market, but I remind myself that effort, dedication and the incorporation of new ideas will bring a return to prosperity. I continue to be an active member of my community, offering scholarships, internships and lectures to inspire the creative spirit of new designers in our nation.”
To view the report in its entirety, see:

McCain: GOP Should Address Immigration Humanely

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said his home state and others could be “up for grabs” in the 2012 presidential election, due in large part to the growing numbers of Hispanic voters and warned GOP candidates to watch their rhetoric on immigration issues.

“The demographics are clear that the Hispanic vote will play a major role in national elections,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

However, higher numbers of Hispanic voters does not guarantee Obama an edge according to McCain, who said the president’s failure to fullfill some campaign promises on immigration makes that voting bloc competitive.

McCain said Republican candidates will need to strike a “careful balance” on immigration when trying to court those voters.

“The Republican Party has to discuss this in as humane a way as possible,” he said.

“We have to have empathy, we have to have concern and we have to have a plan,” McCain added. “But at the same time, to say that we are going to have insecure borders … that’s not the message we want to send.”

The most recent GOP candidate predicted that New Mexico, Colorado, and even Texas could become competitive battlegrounds in presidential elections.

Read more…

Internships and Leadership Development for DREAMers

(New York, NY) This week, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and the Fund for Public Advocacy released the DREAM Fellowship Program application, as part of a new initiative that will provide 10 exceptional undocumented students with CUNY scholarships of $2000 each and the opportunity to participate in an internship and leadership development program.  Internships will be with organizations that educate and empower immigrant families across New York City.

As advocates continue to push for passage of the federal DREAM Act, programs such as the DREAM Fellowship Program will, in the meantime, provide a group of exceptional DREAMers the chance to pursue a college education, gain valuable leadership-building experience, and participate in efforts to improve the quality of life for New York’s immigrant communities.

Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the NYIC said, “We are proud to be moving forward with the DREAM Fellowship Program, and are grateful to the Fund for Public Advocacy for raising the scholarship dollars. We look forward to working with the DREAM fellows, and taking this important step to expand educational opportunities for all our young people, regardless of status. The fight for the federal DREAM Act continues, but in the meantime, the DREAM Fellowship program can help young people fulfill their potential.”

Reshma Saujani, executive director of the Fund for Public Advocacy, said, “The Dream Fellowship is one of the cornerstone projects of the Fund for Public Advocacy this year. I cannot say how proud we are to be able to help ten students who are exemplars of self-determination. Although they face extreme adversity in their mission to attain a higher education, they study hard and work harder to ensure that their dreams become realities. This fellowship program extends ten exceptional students the opportunity to learn about community organizing, as well as a one semester scholarship. We are honored to help them on their journey.”

For more information click here 

SCHOLARSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all. The NYIC promotes immigrants’ full civic participation, fosters their leadership, and provides a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

The NYIC in partnership with the Fund for Public Advocacy is launching its first ever “Dream Fellowship”—a semester long internship and scholarship program that will place DREAM Act-eligible students with community organizations that work to improve the lives of immigrant youth and their families. Students will also have the opportunity to attend a supplemental training program that will provide them with invaluable skills and knowledge to advocate on behalf of immigrant communities. Selected students will demonstrate excellence beyond academic achievement; they will be students who have a proven track record of leadership and community service who want to deepen their skills while continuing their education.

The NYIC will award ten exceptional City University of New York students a $2000 scholarship based on acceptance to the fellowship.

In order to qualify, students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be full time or part time CUNY students at the time of application with at least one semester of undergraduate studies remaining during the 2012 Spring semester;
  • Have a proven interest in building community organizing skills and be able to commit 7 hours per week during the 2012 academic Spring semester;
  • Have a proven track record of leadership and service in either academic and community settings;
  • Be eligible under current version of the federal DREAM act.
  • Demonstrated financial need

All interested, qualified students are encouraged to apply for the scholarship. A completed application, two current letters of recommendation, and a current unofficial transcript must be submitted by December 15, 2011 to ‘DREAM Fellowship’ at the The New York Immigration Coalition, 137-139 West 25th St, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10001. Students may also submit their applications to DreamFellowship@thenyic.org

To apply for the scholarship, please see attached application or click HERE

DEADLINE for accepting applications: Friday, December 16th, 2011

Incomplete or late application packets will not be considered. No phone calls please.


Feds Cracking Down on Immigration Scams

Zach Intrater, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, talks about the dangers of immigration scams during an awareness campaign that kicked off with a panel, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in Newark, N.J. The campaign is aimed at educating legal and illegal immigrants to avoid everything from unlicensed service providers to websites that mimic those of government agencies. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

From Fox News Latino:

Federal officials are cracking down on immigration scams.

In a press conference this past week, federal officials explained that immigration services scams are getting so sophisticated that fraudsters now advertise online with websites that perfectly mimic those of official government agencies.

So the federal government is setting out to raise awareness about such scams.

Officials from several federal, state and local agencies, as well as immigration lawyers and advocates, met in Newark in recent days to expand nationwide a campaign that started in seven pilot cities. It focuses on enforcement, education and interagency collaboration.

“They are not just high-tech scams, they are people in the neighborhoods: people who know people, people who are out there shaking hands,” said Kelvin Chen, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission, as he spoke about the need to increase awareness among immigrants who are often preyed upon by members of their own communities.

The campaign is aimed at educating legal and undocumented immigrants to avoid everything from unlicensed service providers to websites that mimic those of government agencies. Most scams involve people who pretend to be able to provide legal aid or other services for immigrants, take victims’ money and fail to deliver. Read more…

Second Foreign Auto Exec Arrested in Alabama

Last month Alabama police arrested a German executive working at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa for failing to carry a valid driver's licence. Photograph: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty Images

To arrest one foreign car-making executive under Alabama’s new tough immigration laws may be regarded as a misfortune; to arrest a second looks like carelessness.

A judge has acted to put a Japanese employee of Honda Motor Company out of his misery by dismissing immigration charges against him, three days after he was booked under Alabama’s new immigration laws that have been billed as the most sweeping in America. Ichiro Yada is one of about 100 Japanese managers of the company on assignment in southern state.

Yada was stopped in Leeds, Alabama, at a checkpoint set up by police to catch unlicensed drivers. He was ticketed on the spot, despite the fact that he showed an international driver’s licence, a valid passport and a US work permit. Read more….

“Anchor Baby” Added to New American Heritage Dictionary

The degree to which the immigration debate has coarsened over the last few years is no more evident than in the pages of the recently released fifth edition of the New American Heritage Dictionary. Among the new entries is the term “anchor baby.” You might think that the definition would read something like: slang, a pejorative description of a child born in the United States to parents without legal status, implying that the parents intend to leverage the child’s citizenship to “anchor” their own presence in the U.S.” You would be wrong.  Click here for Immigration Impact’s analysis.

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