Tag Archives: Immigration Reform

“IDEA Act”, a Summary of this Proposal’s Major Provisions.

This post summarizes the major provisions of the legislative proposal known as “IDEA Act”, or H.R.2161 – Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America Act of 2011, as it is officially known. As stated in the bill itself, its purpose is “to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to promote innovation, investment, and research in the United States, and for other purposes.”

1 — Preferential Processing for “STEM”-graduates

Academics who hold degrees in the “STEM” fields will have some preferential processing parameters when applying for certain employment-related immigration benefits, including exemption from numerical caps and simplifying other visa processing hurdles.

2 — Incentivizing Job-Creation and Entrepreneurship

This builds on the principles and spirit set forth when the original EB-5 Greencard category was created. A new category of “EB-6″ entrepreneur Greencard will be created, not subject to numerical limits.

3 — Simplifying the Burdensome Labor Certification Process

Shorten processing and turn-around times by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Offer optional fee-based expedited processing. Enhance communication between Employers and DOL during the “PERM” process. Streamlined processing for established employers who file PERM’s frequently.

4 — Modifications to Prevailing Wage System and H-1B to protect U.S. workforce

Measures will be implemented to strengthen the recruitment processes, prevailing wage determinations will be adjusted to better reflect actual market wages, employers will be “incentivized” to retain or recruit U.S. workers, and also for paying above-average wages. Additional safeguards will be put in place to protect workers from potentially abusive or retaliatory conduct by employers. Spouses of H-1B workers are to be employment-authorized.

5 — Modifications to the L-1 category to protect U.S. workforce

Modifications will be made to the existing L-1B “specialized knowledge worker” classification to now required prevailing wage determinations (under certain circumstances). Exceptions would apply in some instances where the L-1B worker is kept on foreign payroll. DOL will be provided with enforcement mechanisms, equal to those currently available in the H-1B classification.

6 — Existing EB-5 Employment Creation Greencard to undergo some modifications

Aims to set aside half of the annual allotment of EB-5′s for those specifically to be used by Regional Center projects. USCIS will revise its current methods of calculating direct and indirect job creation. A major improvement to the current EB-5 program would be the desired authorization of 2-years of added time on the Conditional Residency status if not all conditions could be met within the first two years, if unexpected problems or delays occur. Another welcome change would be the allowance of “concurrent” filings of I-526 and I-485 in the EB-5 and new EB-6 programs, as well as an optional “Premium Processing” to adjudicate petitions within 60 days.

If you DON’T want FL to become the next AZ, read on…

I am forwarding this post from a fellow AILA member who has asked that this be disseminated to those who hold an active interest, in honest and lawful immigration into the United States.

As many of you know, issues relating to Immigration is federal law.  Yet, Florida’s legislature is trying to pass a state law, similar to the one Arizona passed, to address its own issues relating to Immigration.  And despite the law in Arizona still being litigated at taxpayers expense, Florida’s legislature continues its efforts, which if passed, will inevitably cost Florida taxpayers as well.

There are two versions of the bill currently being discussed, with the House version being the harsher of the two.  The Florida House of Representatives have a bill (HB7089 – called Enforcement of Immigration Laws), which would allow law enforcement officers to inquire into a person’s immigration status during a lawful stop and allows for him/her to make an unwarranted arrest if the person is unable to provide evidence of lawful status.  It further allows for the court to convict an undocumented person with a criminal offense, despite the federal law declaring one’s unlawful status as a civil offense.  The bill would also require employers to use a government database called E-verify to determine one’s right to work.  The Florida Senate’s bill (SR2040 – called Unauthorized Immigrants) doesn’t go as far in that it requires the police to inquire into the immigrant status of an inmate and allows certain employers to be exempt from having to use E-verify.

Attached are three documents.  The first attachment is a copy of the House bill, the second is the Senate bill, and the third is a comparison of the House bill to the current version of the Arizona law and how the courts have thus far stated each of its sections invalid.

Whether you are a U.S. born citizen, a permanent resident, a non-immigrant visa/status holder, or unlawful, if these bills become law, you must consider the following:
·         With the complexities of Immigration law, law enforcement officers are likely to make errors in determining one’s lawful status
·         Discrimination and profiling are likely to occur when an officer determines whether to question one about his/her status
·         If you in lawful status (whether a citizen, resident, or visa holder), will you now carry around proof of your lawful status?
·         Economic devastation will occur to tourism and agricultural industries, two industries our state relies on.
·         Revenue loss to Florida schools with foreign students refusing to attend colleges in Florida
·         Reduce tax revenue for the state
·         Endanger victims of crime for fear of reporting crime
·         Damage community trust with law enforcement
·         Potential risk of increased hate crimes
·         Overcrowd jails or result in counties to have to build more detention centers

I ask that you please take a few minutes to email or call the Florida Senate President, the Florida House Majority Leader, and your own state Congressman.    Please let your state legislature know that you oppose SR2040 and more importantly HB7089.  In order to contact your local representative(s), it is suggested by AILA that you use the following format and contact information:

You can simply say: “Hello, my name is ______________ and I am concerned about the negative effects of Senate Bill 2040 and House Bill 7089 on my family, friends, my community, and the state’s economy if either of these bills become law.  Vote no to these bills.”

Call or email your state legislatures now:
1)     Senate President Mike Haridopolos
a.     mike@senatormike.com
b.    850-487-5056

2)     House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera
a.     Carlos.lopez-cantera@myfloridahouse.gov
b.    850-487-5056

3)     You state Senator and House Representative
a.     Go to http://www.myfloridahouse.gov and look at the top left part of your screen for “find your representative.”  This will provide you information on your state and federal legislatures.
b.    850-488-1157

Florida House bill HB7089 , Florida Senate bill SR2040Florida and Arizona laws compared

Point-based Immigration System in the U.S.? Why not?

In June 2007, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a report, examining various point systems of countries (Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand), and weighing the options of the United States adopting a similar system, in an effort to overhaul some serious systemic deficiencies which are long-overdue.

Proponents of point systems maintain that such merit-based approaches are clearly defined and based on the nation’s economic needs and labor market objectives.  A point system, supporters argue, would be more acceptable to the public because the government (rather than employers or families) would be selecting new immigrants and this selection would be based on national economic priorities.

Opponents of point systems state that the judgment of individual employers are the best indicator of labor market needs and an immigrant’s success. Opponents warn that the number of people who wish to immigrate to the United States would overwhelm a point system comparable to those of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.  In turn, this predicted high volume of prospective immigrants, some say, would likely lead to selection criteria so rigorous that it would be indistinguishable from what is now the first preference category of employment-based admissions (persons of extraordinary ability in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multi-national executives and managers) and ultimately would not result in meaningful reform.

Read the report for yourself.   [ download it here ]

Call to Action: Show YOUR Support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Today, Congressman Luis Gutierrez is introducing the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act (CIR ASAP),” a bill that would bring 12 million people out of the shadows and into the full protection of the law.  Show your support and visit the site.

“Campaign To Reform Immigration for America” calls to action

Reform Immigration FOR America The Campaign to Reform Immigration for America is a united national effort that brings together individuals and grassroots organizations with the mission to build support for workable comprehensive immigration reform. The Campaign to Reform Immigration for America is, in part, a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

The campaign connects people from communities across the country who are ready to work together towards achieving the 279 votes needed to win just and humane comprehensive immigration reform legislation: 218 votes in the House of Representatives, 60 votes in the Senate, and one signature from the President.

The campaign supports the following principles:

  • Immigration reform must promote economic opportunity. We must renew our commitment to helping all low-income Americans improve their job prospects and move up the economic ladder towards the American Dream.
  • Immigration reform must be comprehensive. Unless we tackle the broken immigration system as a whole, we will fail to solve the problem at hand.
  • Long-term reform requires long term solutions. The factors shaping immigration are not just domestic; the issue transcends our borders. As such, how we as a country approach our relationships with other nations matters. We must deal with the domestic aspect of this issue and work in partnership with other countries over time to develop long-term strategies.

A reform package that works for all communities and families in America should include the following

  • A rational and humane approach to the undocumented population. We must address the more than twelve million undocumented immigrants living in this country by creating a rigorous registration process that leads to lawful permanent resident status and eventual citizenship.
  • Protect U.S. and immigrant workers. Immigration reform is a component of building real economic security, contributing to a shared prosperity agenda that maintains and improves wages and working conditions in the United States and in other countries. We must protect all workers’ rights, regardless of whether they were born in the United States or abroad, and any employment verification system should determine employment authorization accurately and efficiently while protecting workers and good-faith employers.
  • Allocate sufficient visas to close unlawful migration channels. One of the great failures of our current system is that the level of legal immigration is set arbitrarily by Congress—as a product of political compromise. The allocation of employment visas to workers should be depoliticized and placed in the hands of an independent commission that can assess labor shortages and determine the number and characteristics of foreign workers to be admitted, with Congress’s approval.
  • Enhance our nation’s security and safety. A sensible enforcement strategy will keep America safe, protect due process and human rights, make the most effective use of the tools and policies already available in a fair and reasonable manner, and be fiscally responsible. Such a strategy would prioritize enforcement actions to target genuine threats, violent individuals, unscrupulous employers; traffickers and drug smugglers, and those that might exploit the immigration system to do the country harm.
  • Establish a strategic border enforcement policy that reflects American values. A border strategy that prioritizes the safety and security of border communities and consults with these communities in the process is the best way to ensure that our border policies protect our national security, while balancing enforcement with economic development and human and civil rights.
  • Keep American families together. Our outdated family immigration channels, which keep close family members separated for decades, must be reformed to restore our commitment to promoting family unity.
  • Promote immigrant integration.
    The federal government must help new immigrants learn our language and laws, ensure equal opportunity for immigrants to participate in programs and services, and support state and local governments’ efforts to help integrate these new Americans.
  • Protect fundamental rights for all. Congress must restore basic civil liberties and reaffirm Constitutional protections for all individuals in this country and renew our commitment to core American values of fairness and justice.

The document with the complete Principles of Immigration Reform adopted by the campaign is available here.

The Campaign’s website: http://reformimmigrationforamerica.org/blog/rally-tool-kit/

An Update on ICE-Enforcement and Immigration Reform

Various sources in the immigration legal communicty suspect that under Obama’s administration, significant changes in worksite enforcement actions are coming. However, it appears that traditional procedures of ICE regarding unauthorized employees (those not legally authorized to hold employment in the United States) are likely to be significantly changed.

Instead of being put into detention and removal proceedings, as has been somewhat of a norm, some speculate that the undocumented worker will simply be released after questioning, while U.S. lawmakers grapple with the task of dealing with the nation’s large undocumented workforce, estimated to be in the 10′s of millions.

This new “catch-and-release” policy is aimed at reducing severe disruptions to families ordinarily caused by  ICE raids.

Historically, U.S. businesses have been divided over Immigration Reform. It is not yet clear what stance the incoming Congress will likely take on guest worker programs vis-a-vis legalization efforts.

McCain vs. Obama — What’s best for Immigration?

With the current presidential elections only nearly 2 months away, — 46 days actually, — many are asking themselves “where do the candidates McCain and Obama stand on immigration?” … Let’s take a moment to compare the two presidential front-runners.

For the most part, both candidates seem to see mostly eye-to-eye with regard for the need to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. Much of their respective approaches to the immigration problems we face appear to be across party lines. At heart of the immigration reform issue, is the ever-difficult question of what to do with undocumented aliens (or what the public often refers to as ‘illegal immigrants’), which are estimated to number some 12 million to as many as 30 million, by some estimates.

John McCain, while not entirely consistent in his stance on immigration, since the days of the “McCain – Kennedy” push, has stated that he will not support any major, comprehensive immigration reform which doesn’t include a “secure our borders first” approach. Little to no guidance has been given on what ‘secure borders’ means or at what point the borders will be deemed to be ‘secure’ — who will make that determination?

Barack Obama, also recognizes that our Immigration laws must be overhauled. Obama supports  immigration reform which includes a pathway to earned legalization, requiring immigrants to start learning English, pay certain filing fees and fines, document a stable home and work environment, be obligated to obtain a drivers license and pay any required state and federal taxes.

The best evidence of Senator Obama’s support for immigration reform was during a recent speech to a Latin American/Latino Citizens organization, in Washington D.C.: “I will make it a top priority in my first year as President [...] because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.”

For an in-depth look at Senator McCain’s take on the issue of immigration reform, please visit this page:
http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/68db8157-d301-4e22-baf7-a70dd8416efa.htm

For an in-depth look Senator Obama’s take on the issue of immigration reform, please visit this page:
http://www.barackobama.com/issues/immigration/

When Immigrants Pay In, but don’t collect… then what?

According to a recent piece by “News USA”, 78 million baby boomers are nearing retirement, at which point they will leave the workforce to receive massive amounts of Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits. In a time of major economic downturn, the unlikely “saving grace” is the immigrant population, which pays into the Social Security system without collecting benefits.

The article goes on to say that so-called undocumented immigrants in the U.S. account for some 5 percent of the nation’s workforce. Contrary to popular belief, between one-half and three-quarters of
undocumented immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes – in addition to sales and property taxes.

As of October 2005, the Social Security Administration concluded that undocumented immigrants contributed an estimated $520 billion to the Social Security system – a figure that would increase exponentially if all of these immigrants were required to earn their legal status and contribute their share.

As the Babyboomers approach retirement age, immigrants will be knowingly or unknowingly subsidizing Social Security benefits, making a basic retirement even possible for millions of Americans.

Many experts and proponents of Comprehensive Immigration Reform have stated repeatedly that by requiring the undocumented aliens to come out of the shadows and earn legal status, immigrants will not only contribute by paying taxes, but will play a hefty role in shoring up the teetering Social Security system, and provide a fiscal windfall to U.S. taxpayers. …what’s so bad about that?

Immigration Reform, a year later, where are we?

Rewind by about a year.  Summer 2007.  The summer of great legislative anticipations and actions. Or was it? Legislators and groups alike, on either side of the hallway, had their agendas regarding wide-sweeping changes to a clearly broken American immigration system.  What was touted by various legislators in the U.S. Congress as a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (C.I.R.), was a series of band-aids and  splints to  address some  serious  flaws and gaps in the system.

To the frustrations of many, while many of the long overdue changes were ‘agreed on’ by U.S.-lawmakers (and their respective support groups), there were still considerable issues left on the table, which the U.S. Congress either couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with.

Rather than passing into law 85%-90% of the new law changes, and deal with the remainder later on, Washington, in its infinite wisdom, decided to put the entire thing on the shelf “for later”, when all the 535 boys and girls in both houses of the legislature were in a better mood…

The end result being, after a summer of “maybe” and “nearly there now”, the proverbial rug was pulled from the project, and those who desperately needed this Reform to go through the most, stood there in desolation, with empty hands, and another fruitless legislative session come and gone.

Many of the serious issues which the Reform sought to address (or even correct), — worker verification systems, border security, visa policy, worker shortages, — are getting worse by the month, plain and simple.

To put it even more in perspective, in the absence of viable solutions from Congress, local governments, including states and counties are filling the desperate legislative vacuum with hundreds of their own rules and regulations, resulting in hundreds of different applications of rules that are contradictory, probably unconstitutional, and impossible for businesses and people to follow.  This, in turn, results in major government dysfunction at every level of bureaucracy imaginable.  Let’s not even get into the issues of federal preemption and federal domain…

Many of the Fed’s new bag of tricks are knee-jerk responses to long-developped problems, which the Fed has been unable (or unwilling?) to effectively redress in a sensible manner.  Many of new systems are untested, frought with errors, and will take considerable time to iron out the kinks (including many complaints to be dealt with, by those who are unfairly or innocently harmed by these less than error-free measures…think “NO-FLY List”!)

Potentially, the flip-side of all of this, at least from the viewpoint of the would-be immigrant, is that many of the world’s brightest, are seriously looking at other viable, and attractive destinations, who would more willingly and more readily accept them for their talents, value and beneficial contributions.  Some of these strong contenders on the immigration-stage are:  Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and certain other European countries.

To summarize, our border remains insecure, our immigration laws are an inconsistent, illogical mess, we still do not have a real, workable employee verification system, and perhaps worst of all, we are undermining the competitiveness of our country.

As a nation of immigrants, and the proverbial “melting-pot” we can and MUST create an immigration system that meets all of our needs while maintaining our values.

All we have to do is find the will, courage, and leadership to make it happen.