LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Vol. 4, No. 10, October 4, 2000


It’s Not Over ‘Till It’s Over!

Everyone’s advocacy over the past few months has succeeded in making our immigration issues white hot!  After addressing H-1Bs, we need to continue our efforts to make sure that Congress positively addresses our other issues before adjournment in October:  restoration of Section 245(i), due process reforms, NACARA parity, and updating the registry date.  (This update includes the latest on all these issues.) AILA members, clients, colleagues, families and coalition partners need to call, write letters, and send emails to Congress and the White House NOW. Urge them to restore Section 245(i), update the registry date, pass NACARA parity (S. 2912 or on the end-of-the-session Commerce, Justice, State appropriations bill), and reform IIRAIRA (S. 3120 and an improved H.R. 5062). Contact your Senators and Representatives by calling the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. Contact the White House at 202-456-1414, the Bush campaign at 512-637-2000, and the Gore campaign at 615-340-2000.

Please visit the Advocacy Center on InfoNet for detailed message points and issue papers that can be used for letters, phone calls and emails. These tools are found by clicking on “September Advocacy Tools.” You can also email your elected officials directly from the Advocacy Center by going to the “Legislative and Media Action Center,” and then clicking on “Write to the White House” and “Write to Congress.” Formatted email messages are ready to be sent, or you can personalize them by adding your own details. 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Consensus H-1B Bill Passes Senate and House with Bipartisan Support; 
White House Issues Statement

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached consensus September 29 on the H-1B legislation.  This consensus (details of which are noted below) paved the way for the overwhelming October 3 passage in the Senate (by a vote of 96-1) and the House (voice vote) of the bill.

The H-1B consensus followed months of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on the rules of debate and the amendments that could be offered.  While supporting the H-1B measure, Senate Democrats also sought a vote on the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA), which includes the restoration of Section 245(i), NACARA parity, and registry update.  In mid-September, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) called for a series of procedural votes that brought S. 2045 (the Hatch/Abraham H-1B bill) to the floor, and disallowed consideration of LIFA.

In separate procedural votes on September 19, 26, and 27 the Senate overwhelmingly supported moving forward on the H-1B bill. Senate Democrats used the allowed debate time to protest not being allowed to introduce the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act as an amendment. However, Democrats did succeed (see below) in getting a procedural vote on the issue. 

Also on October 3, and in an unexpected move, House Republican leaders without notice moved the Senate-passed bill for a vote on the House floor.  While Democrats complained about how the bill was moved to the floor –with no notice or ability to amend the measure and little time for debate, most voted in support of the measure.  After limited debate, the bill passed by voice vote. Given that the House leadership wanted to pass the Senate bill, thereby avoiding a conference, Democratic and Republican leaders worked together to introduce a separate measure, H.R. 5362, which would raise the education and training fee to $1,000.

In response to Senate action, the Administration issued a statement supporting "balanced legislation that both increases the number of H-1B visas and prepares U.S. workers to meet the needs of American business."   The Administration also noted concerns that the measure passed did not include an increased fee. The Administration also noted its serious concerns with the six-year extension provision that would turn the H-1B program "from a temporary worker program into an in-residence waiting line for permanent employment-based immigration and increasing the vulnerability of these workers to exploitation in the workplace."  Finally, the Administration reiterated its support for the Latino and Immigrant Fairness provisions and disappointment that this measure was not included in H-1B legislation. 

Please check the Advocacy Center on InfoNet for the latest information.

Summary of Senate and House-passed S. 2045:

Support for Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act Grows in Congress

Democratic Senators used the H-1B debate, reviewed above, to signal their support for The Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA, S. 2912), introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Bob Graham (D-FL), Harry Reid (R-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and others. LIFA would restore Section 245(i), update the registry date to 1986, and grant NACARA parity. The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), that includes dozens of important service sector employers as well as AILA, has endorsed these measures. While blocked by Senate Republican leadership from a vote on LIFA itself, Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) succeeded in forcing the Senate to take a procedural vote on LIFA that required a 2/3-majority vote to pass. The measure was defeated by a party-line vote of 55-43, thus ensuring the end of Senate consideration of the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act.

Democrats did not expect passage of LIFA, given Republican control of the Senate. Rather, they used the vote to highlight Republican opposition to measures that top the agenda of Latino and other immigrants nationwide.  Senate Republicans countered that LIFA is an amnesty for “two million illegal aliens.”  LIFA’s supporters will continue to advocate that these measures be included in either the Commerce Justice State (CJS) Appropriations bill or an appropriations bill that includes CJS provisions. President Clinton has indicated that he would veto the relevant appropriation bill if it does not include LIFA. 152 Representatives and 43 Senators sent a letter to the President indicating that they would vote to sustain his veto. Given the above, the fate of LIFA will be decided in the last days of this session of Congress, most likely during end-of-session budget negotiations.  It is imperative that these issues top the priority list of House, Senate, and White House representatives as they negotiate the budget.

House Passes IIRAIRA Reform Measure

The House of Representatives on September 19 passed by voice vote H.R. 5062, a limited reform measure that would reverse the retroactivity of two aspects of the 1996 laws.  H.R. 5062, introduced by Representative Bill McCollum (R-FL), was the product of negotiations primarily between Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Henry Hyde (R-IL) to find areas of agreement on reforming at least some of the harshest provisions of the 1996 laws.  H.R. 5062 would allow immigrants who committed crimes now classified as aggravated felonies, except for rape and sexual abuse of a minor, to apply for “cancellation of removal” if their crimes were committed before the 1996 laws were enacted. Additionally, immigrants who committed offenses before 1996 would no longer lose their continuous residence status because of those offenses. Under the bill, those residents already deported because of the retroactive application of the 1996 legislation could reopen their deportation proceedings to apply for cancellation of removal.

House passage of this bipartisan legislation sends an important message that we can and should restore fairness to our immigration laws.  While an important down payment, H.R. 5062 fails to offer solutions to many of the most harmful aspects of the 1996 laws, leaving in place many of the retroactive provisions that changed the rules mid-game and that penalize minor offenders as severely as serious criminals.  Thus, many long-term legal immigrants would continue to face automatic deportation without any possibility of relief and be detained at taxpayer expense. 

Advocates view H.R. 5062 as the minimum needed in due process reforms.

Lamar Smith Introduces Bill to Expand Harsh ’96 Laws

Despite widespread recognition that the 1996 laws went too far and need to be reformed, Representative Lamar Smith has introduced a bill, H.R. 5293, which would expand the application of those laws.  The bill was introduced on September 26, and Representative Smith quickly scheduled the mark-up.  Representative Smith introduced this bill after he agreed to the passage of the compromise H.R. 5062 (reviewed above) and despite his knowledge that the full House Judiciary Committee will not convene before Congress adjourns. 

Representative Smith alleges that this legislation will make the 1996 laws more consistent and is necessary to “close loopholes” in the 1996 laws.  In its original form, H.R. 5293 would expand the application of the “aggravated felony” definition to apply to grounds of admissibility, add an additional ground of inadmissibility for any type of firearms offense, and apply the “stop-time” rule for cancellation of removal to any offense that is a ground of inadmissibility or deportation.  At the same time, the bill eliminates any waivers available for people affected by this expansion of the law by restricting eligibility for Section 212(h) waivers.  The bill would also expand the mandatory detention regulations to apply to more people (by eliminating the “when released” language in Section 236(c)).

Representative Smith’s attempts to make the 1996 laws “more consistent” run counter to sentiment expressed in the media, and by the public and a growing number of members of Congress that these laws went too far.  For example, the definition of an “aggravated felony” was dramatically expanded under the 1996 laws to include even minor offenses for which no jail time was ever served.  Similarly, the definition of a firearms offense is so broad that it would include violations of licensing or registration laws. 

In an effort to limit debate and possible amendments, at the second scheduled mark-up Representative Smith split the bill into three separate measures. The “aggravated felony” changes and firearms offenses were dropped. The expansion of mandatory detention, restriction on relief and expansion of the stop-time rule became separate bills. In a hearing that was not open to the public, the subcommittee approved these bills and referred them to the full committee.

Until proportionality and fairness are returned to our immigration laws, AILA opposes efforts to apply these unfair and overbroad provisions to more people.

Senate Introduces Immigration Fairness Restoration Act of 2000 

Senators Kennedy, Bob Graham (D-FL) and others introduced S. 3120, the Immigration Fairness Restoration Act of 2000, in late September.  In contrast to the very limited provisions of H.R. 5062, this bill would reform most of the overly harsh provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA).  S. 3120 would restore fairness to our immigration laws by recognizing these basic principles:

AILA strongly supports S. 3120 as a measure that will help us roll back the harsh 1996 immigration laws. Advocates are urging Congress and the White House to restore due process by passing real reform this year. 

House Approves Temporary Extension of Religious Worker Visa Program

The House on September 19 passed by voice vote H.R. 4068, the Religious Workers Act of 2000, that would extend the religious worker visa program for an additional three years, and sent the bill to the Senate. Meanwhile, the Senate religious worker bill (S. 2046) which awaits floor action, would make permanent the religious worker visa program. Given the opportunity for a vote, the Senate likely would pass S. 2046, and AILA would urge the House to agree to the Senate measure making the program permanent. However, because this measure has been held up due to disagreements over unrelated issues, the religious worker program may end up as part of an end-of-the year budget measure. Notwithstanding current uncertainties, we believe that Congress, at a minimum, will approve an extension of the program before this Congressional session ends.

House Passes Immigrant Smuggling Bill

The House of Representatives passed on October 3 H.R. 238, a bill that would establish mandatory minimum penalties for smuggling people into the U.S.   While these penalties were enhanced under the sweeping 1996 laws, bill supporters say increased border patrol efforts have made smuggling even more lucrative and warrant stiffer sentencing requirements.  The bill would establish a mandatory, one-year minimum sentence for transporting or harboring smuggled aliens within the U.S., inducing aliens to come to the U.S. illegally, or aiding and abetting alien smuggling crimes, if the acts are done for financial or commercial gain.  The bill would require a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for illegally bringing aliens into the U.S., domestic transport or harboring or inducement of smuggled aliens for commercial advantage or financial gain, or engaging in an alien smuggling conspiracy.  If the smuggling results in serious bodily harm to immigrants, the sentence would increase to between 5- to 25-years.  Crimes that result in death could receive a minimum 20-year sentence.  Under the measure, mandatory minimum sentences for immigrant smuggling would double upon a second conviction.  

The requirement that the smuggling be done for financial or commercial gain was added to the bill through an amendment offered by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).  Representatives Lofgren and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) also introduced amendments that offer an exemption from the mandatory minimums for smuggling offenses committed by an alien solely to assist the alien's spouse, parent, son or daughter, and clarify that no one can be prosecuted for providing emergency assistance to an illegal alien who is in the U.S. who is in a life-threatening situation.

 AILA supports increased efforts to stop professional smugglers who, for financial gain, enslave or kill hundreds of desperate immigrants every year.

Visa Waiver Program Moves through Senate; House Passage Expected;
Measure Includes Extension of EB-5 Program and H-1B Merger Provisions 

As part of the deal to reach a final vote on the H-1B bill, Republican and Democratic Senators passed an extension of the visa waiver program directly after the October 3 H-1B vote. The House already passed legislation that would make the Visa Waiver Program permanent. However, despite widespread support for the program itself, the Senate did not vote on the visa waiver program until early October due to disagreements over unrelated issues.  Because the Senate bill differs from the House bill, the House will need to vote on the measure again.  However, because the House managers of the visa waiver bill agreed to the Senate changes, House passage is anticipated.  Meanwhile, the INS and State Department continue their administrative parole of individuals who would ordinarily qualify for visa waiver.

Included in the Senate visa waiver bill are provisions that would, among other provisions, extend the EB-5 immigrant investors pilot program.  The bill also includes provisions clarifying the circumstances under which amended H-1B petitions need not be filed following a corporate restructuring. Please contact the Advocacy staff for more details. 

Revised Citizenship Law for Foreign-Born Children Set for Conference 

The House on September 26 passed by voice vote H.R. 2883, a bill that would confer U.S. citizenship on certain foreign-born children of U.S. citizens, including adopted children. Citizenship would be granted as long as one parent is a U.S. citizen, the child is under 18, and the child is present in the United States in a legal permanent resident status or has maintained a lawful temporary status. The Senate passed similar legislation (S. 1485) in October 1999.

This legislation is an improvement over current law.  However, AILA has expressed concern over provisions that require the child to maintain a lawful temporary status, and has sought to include protections for children who may turn 18 before an application can be submitted or approved. 

Consumer Protection for Immigrants Bill Introduced in the Senate

On September 20, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced “a bill to make certain immigration consultant practices criminal offenses.” This bill, S. 3074, acknowledges the high incidence of fraud against immigrants seeking legal assistance and, among other provisions, defines prohibited acts and criminal penalties for unlicensed consultants defrauding immigrants. The bill also prohibits immigration consultants from advertising in a way that implies that they may be attorneys (including using the title “notary” or “notario”), and that they enter into written contracts with clients that specifically outlines prohibited acts and reemphasizes that they may not provide legal advice. The bill also prevents the INS or Department of Justice from using information received from an immigrant in a complaint against a consultant to institute immigration proceedings against the immigrant.  (In July, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced in the House a bill that would have required the INS to license all immigration consultants.)

AILA supports this legislation, as many state governments do not acknowledge unlicensed practice of law as a criminal act or investigate complaints by the public.

House Set To Vote on Trafficking Victims Protection Bill

The House is expected shortly to take up a conference report aimed at cracking down on the illegal trafficking of people across international borders.  The measure was supposed to be ready for House consideration two weeks ago, but has been stalled in conference, in addition to being delayed because of anticipated debate on appropriations bills.  

The bill (H.R. 3244) would establish a new “T” visa for victims of trafficking if they agree to cooperate with law enforcement. It also would make victims of sex trafficking or involuntary servitude, who are afraid of retribution in their home country, eligible for the visa.  Up to 5,000 of the visas would be available each fiscal year.  The bill would authorize $94.5 million over two years for various programs to combat trafficking.  The measure also would double the current maximum penalty to 20 years for those convicted of selling others into involuntary servitude and other trafficking crimes.

House Judiciary Committee Reaches Agreement on Bill Limiting the Use of Secret Evidence

On September 26, the House Judiciary Committee passed a compromise version of the Secret Evidence Repeal Act (H.R. 2121) that would give alien detainees the same rights as defendants in criminal cases.  Under the compromise legislation, the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) would be applied to immigration cases that involve classified information. Neither the full House nor Senate is expected to take up this measure.

Under H.R. 2121, a detained person would be given an unclassified summary of the classified information. This summary would give the alien “substantially the same ability to make his defense as would disclosure of the...classified information,” and would be the only part of the classified information the immigration judge would be given. The judge would therefore not be prejudiced by information not shared with the detainee. There would be no “secret evidence” because the immigration judge would base any decision on the same information that is shared with the alien. 

House Committee Passes New Agricultural Worker Bill

Following a contentious three days of debate, the House Judiciary Committee finally passed H.R. 4548, the “Agricultural Opportunities Act” introduced earlier this year by Representative Richard Pombo (R-CA). Both business advocates and House Republican leadership, especially Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), have strongly supported this effort.  Most Democrats, farm worker advocates and Latino organizations strongly oppose this bill because it would remove most of the current worker protections in the H-2A program and will do nothing to adjust the status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented farmworkers already in the country. The final vote (16–11) went largely along partly-lines, with the exception of committee Chairman Henry Hyde, who voted against the measure, and Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL), a co-sponsor of the bill, who voted in favor of it.

As introduced, the bill requires all U.S. farmworkers to sign up in a national registry, and employers to first attempt to fill their positions from this registry. If unsuccessful, the employer may then sponsor H-2C nonimmigrants for the remaining positions. The bill would require employers to pay the prevailing wage for agricultural work in the area, and provide a housing allowance equal to the average housing price in nonmetropolitan counties in the state. 

House Republican leadership has indicated its intention to bring this bill either to the floor or to attach it to other measures, including possibly an H-1B bill or an appropriations measure. 

DED Extended for Liberians 

President Clinton on September 28 directed the Attorney General to extend for one year, until September 29, 2001, Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians.  Liberians granted DED also would be granted work authorization.  In his memo, the President cited that forcing Liberians to return at this time would lead to instability in Liberia and the region.  Liberians in the U.S. were granted TPS (Temporary Protected Status) in 1991 due to civil conflict in Liberia.  TPS was extended several times since then.  TPS ended in September 1999, at which time the Administration granted DED, which would have expired this past September 29. 

GRASSROOTS UPDATE

Community Activism: Making a Difference at Home

Educating and working with local elected officials, local government agencies, and community-based organizations on immigration issues help create a positive environment for immigrants and generate support for pro-immigrant policies. Local advocacy is important in our efforts to improve immigration policy and build relationships at all levels of government. Please forward the AILA Advocacy Department information about your community activism.  We will highlight your efforts in our Advocacy Update newsletter! Sharing your activities gives all of us new ideas and inspires others to get involved!

We commend the following AILA members who have been community-based immigration activists, and who are making a difference at home!

In September, Philip Berns gave two presentations in Bridgeport and Stamford Connecticut with approximately 100 people in attendance. He discussed Latino and immigrant fairness legislation that is currently pending in Congress, and urged attendees and their families and friends to contact their elected officials to urge their support on this important legislation. In addition, two of his letters on the same issues were published in the local newspaper in September.

For the past four months, Scott Wright, Steve Thal and other AILA members from the Minnesota/Dakotas chapter have worked with local government, particularly the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the St. Paul INS district office to help improve policies for the issuance of refugee identity documents. In addition to drafting proposals and working out procedures with the St. Paul INS, the effort has led to better relationships among the Somali refugees and advocacy organizations in the area, and has increased community awareness of the needs of area refugees and immigrants.

Look Who’s Talking with Congress!

Since our last issue of Advocacy Update, AILA members have been involved in a flurry of advocacy activity! Many of you have been working hard and contacting your Senators and Representatives to urge their support now on the issues topping AILA’s agenda. These efforts will make a difference on whether Congress positively addresses our immigration issues before adjournment!

Lobby Day and National Call-In Week: During the week of September 11-15 AILA members, their clients and coalition partners traveled to Washington, DC to meet with their Senators and Representatives, and called Members of Congress to urge their support on H-1B legislation, restoration of Section 245(i), updating the registry date, NACARA parity, and IIRAIRA reform.

Thanks to the following Lobby Day participants and to all of you who called your elected officials! Emilia Banuelos, Arizona; Judith Sporn, Connecticut; Vaman Kidambi, Connecticut; Tammy Fox-Isicoff, Florida; Ellen Gorman, Florida; Chuck Kuck, Georgia; Paul Zulkie, Illinois; Carlina Tapia-Ruano, Illinois; Jane Carroll, Illinois; Rusty O'Brien, Kentucky; Jay Marks, Maryland; Mary Ryan, Maryland; Larry Johnson, Maryland; Michael Kabik, Maryland; Vard Johnson, Nebraska; Peter Ashman, Nevada; Deborah Notkin, New York; Marcia Needleman, New York; Maggie Catillaz, New York; Jack Pinnix, North Carolina; Ira Mazer, Pennsylvania; Bridgette Davis Miles, Virginia; Dawn Lurie, Virginia; Roberta Freedman, Virginia; Diane Butler, Washington

We are pleased to here present the first of a new column we will be including periodically in Advocacy Update that highlights an AILA member’s advocacy experiences.  Please contact the Advocacy Department if you want to contribute in the future. 

Lobby Day Reflections By Carlina Tapia-Ruano

Have you ever seen the film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", with Jimmy Stewart?  Well, being in Washington D.C. on September 13 during Lobby Day made me feel like Mr. Smith in the film. Yes, I felt naive, inexperienced and powerless in a world with hidden agendas, unspoken rules, and powerful alliances.  Nevertheless, like Mr. Smith, I also believed that in spite of all I did not know, I was convinced I was fighting the "good fight".  If I was going to have a chance at all, I had to be fearless, constant and passionate in addressing the legislators with our concerns. 

This was not my first time on the Hill during Lobby Day.  I was there last year in the spring.  But it felt like I was doing it for the first time, all over again. All the players and rules were new.  Yet once again I received a rewarding lesson in humility, frustration and the importance of actively participating in our country's political possess.

When planning my trip to Washington, I had made oral and written requests for appointments with 5 legislators; Senator Fitzgerald (D-IL), Representative Lipinski (R-IL), Representative Porter (R-IL), Representative Hastert (R-IL), and Representative Hyde (R-IL).  All of them were Republicans since I understood that Republican legislators were most in need of visits.  I was only able to make arrangements with three of them.  I never got in to see Representative Hastert, although we played telephone tag for almost one week.  When I tried to set up an appointment with Representative Hyde, I was told in very direct terms that he was too busy for me.

My appointments were with Senator Fitzgerald and Representative Lipinski’s staff, and with Representative Porter himself.  I was glad that I was prepared for the meetings, having reviewed materials prior to coming to Washington D.C., that I knew what I wanted to achieve at these meetings, and I had prepared materials in advance to leave with these elected officials’ offices.  These visits confirmed the importance of developing relationships with these offices and maintaining these relationships over time, and knowing the issues and being comfortable speaking about them.  The materials the AILA Advocacy staff prepared were very helpful in my achieving these goals.

I returned to Chicago with the conviction that each one of us who went to Washington made a difference. Great things are accomplished with many small steps.  I realized that being an advocate for immigrants in Washington, as with anything else, requires knowledge of how things work and the people involved.  It also requires that we be persistent and persuasive, with everyone we have a chance to talk to.  I cannot wait to try it again, next time!

Email messages to Congress and the White House

Many of you sent emails (from the Advocacy Center on InfoNet) to your Senators, Representatives and President Clinton urging passage and enactment of immigration legislation before Congress adjourns. More than 60 AILA members sent over 150 emails to Congress and President Clinton since our last issue of Advocacy Update. 

Because we have no guarantee that Congress will positively address these issues before adjournment, we still need to make more noise! If you would like to send an email to your elected officials, go to the Advocacy Center on InfoNet, click on “Legislative and Media Action Center,” and then click on “Write to the White House” and “Write to Congress.” Formatted email messages are ready to be sent, or you can personalize them by adding to the message. 

This email option is available only to AILA members, so please tell your friends, family, clients and colleagues to call Congress and the White House! Please see InfoNet for talking points and phone numbers, or contact Tara Finck at tfinck@aila.org for assistance.

IMMIGRATION AROUND THE NATION

(For copies of any of these articles, please contact Matt Tallmer, AILA Public Affairs Manager, at mtallmer@aila.org)

Members & Staff in the News 

Robert Rubin and Camille Cook were mentioned in a September 27 article in the San Francisco Examiner about an immigrant who sued a deportation officer and other INS employees after the Service mistakenly deported him. Howard Silverman and Ben Johnson were quoted in a September 25 Boston Globe article about IIRAIRA. Judy Golub was quoted in a September 23 Congressional Quarterly article about juggling business’ agenda and immigrants’ interests. The Bellingham Herald, on September 22, published an op-ed about H-1Bs written by Greg Boos. Tamara French was quoted in a September 16 New York Times article about a Mexican seeking political asylum. Lucas Guttentag was referred to in a September 14 New York Law Journal article about a 2nd Circuit decision (he also was cited in a September 7 article in the same paper about another 2nd Circuit decision). An article about 245(i) by Philip Berns was published in El Sol on September 14. Judy Golub was quoted by The Star Ledger in a September 13 article about Latino fairness. A September 12 article about IIRAIRA in The National Law Journal quoted Jeanne Butterfield, Jack Pinnix, Mitchell Wexler, Regis Fernandez and Carol Wolchok. Gerry Chapman was quoted in a September 11 Charlotte News-Observer article about essential workers. Robert Banta was quoted in an article about H-1Bs that ran in the September 11 Global Fax. Michael Maggio was quoted in a September 7 Washington Post article about the indictment on immigration fraud charges of a transgender couple. A September 7 article in The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported on the guilty plea to charges of falsifying immigration documents by Avi Carmel. The Miami Herald ran a September 5 article about the arrest of Gisel Ybarra on charges of failing to obey a police officer during demonstrations over the Elian Gonzalez case. Mitchell Zwaik was quoted in a September 3 Newsday article about a woman suing the INS for detaining her. 

Asylum. The Anchorage Daily News reported September 24 on long-standing asylum claims still pending. A September 11 Associated Press dispatch reported on a 9th Circuit order granting political asylum to an Iranian businessman on the grounds that he likely would face torture and death. The INS had tried to deport that immigrant.

Benefits. The Orange County Register ran a September 19 article about two bills that would allow undocumented immigrants in California to get driver’s licenses and college tuition assistance at state schools.

Border Issues. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried a September 22 article about the resignation of the INS Portland (OR) District Director, who had been criticized for unnecessarily harsh screening procedures. The Christian Science Monitor ran a September 22 article about problems along the northern border. A September 14 Associated Press dispatch reported on water-rescue training for Border Patrol agents along the Texas-Mexico border. The Orange County Register ran a September 8 article about a new INS system that may speed up screening at the southern border.

Court Decisions. The New York Law Journal reported September 14 on a circuit court ruling holding that the INA discriminates against men when it comes to granting citizenship to children born abroad. The same newspaper reported September 7 about a circuit court decision that IIRAIRA does not apply to immigrants who entered guilty pleas before the law took effect.

Economics. A September 13 column in The San Jose Mercury-News belied restrictionist claims that immigrants are decreasing income levels in California. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a September 12 article about the economic benefits of immigrants to Minnesota. An article in the September 8 Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the growing economic clout of the Asian community in Georgia. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a September 7 article about how the state relies heavily on immigrant workers. A September 6 dispatch in EFE reported that immigrants are expected to contribute $120 billion to their home country economies over the next decade. The New York Times ran a September 3 article about Iowa’s efforts to attract immigrants (similar articles ran in the September 16 Washington Post and in a September 4 Associated Press dispatch).

Editorials. In a September 25 editorial, The Miami Herald called on Congress to raise the H-1B cap and approve the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act. The Denver Post ran a September 11 editorial calling on the INS to refrain from pursuing immigrants along the southern border, and allowing guest workers. The Des Moines Register ran a September 6 editorial urging that Iowa welcome immigrants as a way to boost the state’s economy. The Arizona Daily Star called U.S. immigration policy an “abysmal failure” in a September 6 editorial. In its Labor Day issue, The Miami Herald ran an editorial paying tribute to immigrant workers.

Essential Workers. The Associated Press ran a September 24 dispatch about essential workers in Wisconsin. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a September 24 article about severe shortages in the nursing industry and efforts by hospitals to retain foreign nurses. A September 21 dispatch by Associated Press reported on a Nebraska state taskforce charged with changing state law relating to immigrant workers. The Knoxville News ran a September 15 article about the growing number of immigrants employed as essential workers in Tennessee. The New York Times reported September 5 that the percentage of immigrant workers (especially essential workers) is at its highest level in 70 years.

H-1B Visas. CQ Weekly ran a September 23 article about efforts to add family and fairness legislation to H-1B visa legislation. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a September 21 article about a joint INS-Department of Labor investigation of fraud in the H-1B program (AILA notes that this single report has not been confirmed by other sources, including members). Another article run on the same day in the same paper reported on the history of the H-1B program. USA Today ran a September 12 op-ed stating that only “Cavemen hate the H-1B visa.” A September 11 article in The Knoxville News reported on a government audit of the H-1B program. The Washington Post ran a September 7 op-ed endorsing legislation to raise the cap. A September 7 op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle also called for ending the limit on H-1B visas. An article in the September 4 San Francisco Chronicle reported on a study showing a mismatch between jobs and skills.

Immigration. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a September 25 article about 40 immigrants registering to vote. The Torrance Daily Breeze ran a September 25 article about how immigrants are fueling union growth. The Bolingbrook Sun ran a September 15 article about honoring an immigrant as citizen of the year. A university newspaper reported September 13 that San Diego State University hosted a conference on immigrant contributions to the community. The Boston Globe ran a September 12 article about the number of immigrants entering the U.S.  A Chicago Sun-Times article the same day focused on immigrants living in the suburbs. The Los Angeles Times ran a five-part series about immigrants starting on September 12. A September 10 article in The Miami Herald focused on businesses owned by immigrants. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported September 8 that a grandson of a Jewish immigrant was named the new University of Minnesota chancellor. The Bergen County Record ran a September 7 article profiling an immigrant who works for UPS. The Associated Press ran a September 6 dispatch about Leonard and Phil Chess, two immigrants who formed Chess Records, a legendary producer of blues and early rock. The Chicago Tribune ran a September 6 article about organized labor efforts to attract immigrants.

INS. A September 12 article about the INS in The Chicago Tribune reported that a visit to the agency is “a breeze –if you have 7 hours to kill.”

INS Enforcement. The San Antonio Express-News ran a September 25 article about INS efforts to curtail undocumented immigrants along the Texas-Mexico border. The Chicago Tribune ran a September 11 article about INS policy relating to nannies. An article in the September 11 Seattle Times reported on harsh INS enforcement procedures at the Portland (OR) airport. The Los Angeles Times ran a September 7 article about INS efforts to target rural border crossings by immigrants. The Houston Chronicle ran a September 2 article about US Army troops and equipment assisting the INS along the Laredo-Mexican border.

IIRAIRA. The Arizona Republic ran a September 8 article about Louis Sharpe, a former professional football player being deported to Cuba for drug convictions.

Notarios. The Salt Lake City Tribune ran a September 12 article about notarios preying on immigrants.

Politics. A September 12 article in The New York Times reported on the role immigrants are likely to play in New York congressional races. The Associated Press ran a September 7 article about Hadassah Lieberman, the immigrant wife of Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT).

Restrictionists. Leesburg Today reported on an anti-immigrant media blitz being run in the Washington, D.C. suburbs by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. The Des Moines Register ran a September 21 article about ads against H-1B visas being run by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. An article in the September 13 Washington Post reported on the far-right connections of the Reform Party’s vice presidential candidate, including links to anti-immigrant groups. A September 13 article in The Detroit Free Press reported on anti-immigrant ads erected by Project USA. The Washington Post published a September 12 op-ed piece by Norman Matloff attacking H-1B visas. The Washington Times ran a September 12 article about a poll conducted by Negative Population Growth (which is run by the Sharon Stein, wife of Federation for American Immigration Reform executive director Dan Stein) linking development with immigrants. Bob Novak, speaking on CNN’s “Crossfire,” referred to restictionist groups such as the Federation as “know-nothing, racist, anti-immigration forces.”

Secret Evidence. The Miami Herald ran a September 6 article about INS efforts to deport a Muslim cleric on the basis of secret evidence.

 

Did You Know?

A new Gallup poll marks the continuation of a much more positive attitudes toward immigration than existed in the mid-1990s. The poll, released September 22, shows that 54% of Americans support current or expanded immigration rates (41% say immigration should be kept at its present level and 13% think it should be increased); in contrast, 38% would reduce immigration.

 

Contributors:

Jeanne A. Butterfield, Executive Director of AILA
Judith E. Golub, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs
Theresa C. Brown, Associate Director 
Ben Johnson, Associate Director
Matt Tallmer, Public Affairs Manager
Tara Finck, Advocacy Associate