Immigration Reform Advocates Losing Patience with Obama

Courtesy of New American Media, “The First and Largest Collaboration of Ethnic News Organizations”:

Subhash Kateel thinks impatience with President Obama’s immigration agenda has begun to boil over. An immigrant advocate in Florida, Kateel says there is a potent mix of frustration and disappointment percolating through immigrant communities nationwide.

President Obama promised sweeping changes to the immigration system before taking office and raised immigrants’ hopes, says Kateel. Instead of delivering, the administration has maintained the status quo: high-handed enforcement tactics that separate families and funnel immigrants into substandard immigration courts and detention centers.

“Yeah, things are changing,” says Kateel, who works for the Miami-based Florida Immigrant Rights Coalition. “They’re getting worse. That’s what we hear on the ground.”

You can read the entire article here.

Working in the Shadows by Author Gabriel Thompson

Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won’t Do

What is it like doing the back-breaking work of immigrants? To find out, Gabriel Thompson spent the year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. He stooped over lettuce fields in Arizona and worked the graveyard shift at a chicken slaughterhouse in rural Alabama. He dodged taxis—not always successfully—as a bicycle delivery “boy” for an upscale Manhattan restaurant, and was fired from a flower shop by a boss who, he quickly realized, was nuts.

As one coworker explained, “These jobs make you old quick.” Back spasms occasionally keep Thompson in bed, where he suffers recurring nightmares involving iceberg lettuce and chicken carcasses. Combining personal narrative with investigative reporting, Thompson shines a bright light on the underside of the American economy, exposing harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcement—while telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants and desperate US citizens alike, forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour.

About the Author

Gabriel Thompson has contributed to New York, The Nation, New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, In These Times and others. He is the recipient of the Richard J. Margolis Award, the Studs Terkel Media Award, and a collective Sidney Hillman Award. His writings are collected at The author of There’s No José Here and Calling All Radicals, he lives in Brooklyn.

You can read Gabriel Thompson’s blog and buy his book here.

US Government’s Newly Aggressive Fight Against Immigration Fraud

Courtesy of Teresa Watanabe of the LA Times:

According to immigration official Rand L. Gallagher, the visit confirmed his suspicions that the Chinese national in question had filed a fraudulent application for a business visa. The visa petition claimed the El Monte office housed employees who were going to start a U.S. subsidiary of an import-export parent company in China.

But “Suite 105” turned out to be a tiny side room inside the leasing office, with no workers and no evidence of a business operation.

Increased site visits like the recent trip to El Monte are a key tool in the federal government’s newly aggressive fight against immigration fraud. The visits are to expand to as many as 25,000 this fiscal year from 5,000 last year, according to Alejandro N. Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In the last six years, the number of anti-fraud officers nationwide has grown from 100 to 600. Offices have been established in Mexico and Germany, with others being considered for the Philippines, China, India and South Korea.

The number of fraud leads investigated has jumped from 2,620 in 2005 to 31,827 last year.

And the fraud office’s budget has swelled to $95 million in fiscal year 2009, up from about $20 million five years earlier. To help fund the operations, Congress approved a $500 “fraud fee” on certain business visa applications, raising millions of dollars a year for investigators in the Homeland Security, Labor and State departments.


Travel Advisory for US Temporary Workers: H-1B, L-1, E-1/2, TN, E-3, O-1

US CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Officers around the country, particularly in Newark, New Jersey, have been turning away valid visa holders at an alarming rate.

In some cases, CBP Officers are canceling the visas, and issuing orders of expedited removal. Expedited removal is a procedure by which persons are deemed inadmissible at a Port-of-Entry (including Pre-Flight Inspection), as a result of commission of material misrepresentation, or lack of documentation to prove eligibility for an immigration or nonimmigrant status. Expedited removal results in a five year ban from entering the US.

Reports from AILA liaison indicate that travelers are directed to secondary inspection by CBP Officers, and coerced into signing statements which are then used as the basis for expedited removal. CBP has also confirmed that at least several cases involved companies which were under investigation by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), or the CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Service) for ongoing H-1B program fraud.

While these things have been happening for years, it is believed the recently issued memo has led CBP to increase their enforcement efforts by targeting travelers who work for IT Consulting companies, or at third party worksites.

It should noted the CBP has the right to determine if someone seeking entry to the US is eligible for admission. So, a valid visa, or “Approval Notices” do not guarantee entry.

Notably, Form I-797 Approval Notices include the following new fraud language:

NOTICE: Although this application/petition has been approved, DHS reserves the right to verify the information submitted in this application, petition, and/or supporting documentation to ensure conformity with applicable laws, rules, regulations, and other authorities. Methods used for verifying information may include, but are not limited to, the review of public information and records, contact by correspondence, the Internet, or telephone, and site inspections of businesses and residences. Information obtained during the course of verification will be used to determine whether revocation, rescission, and/or removal proceedings are appropriate. Applicants, petitioners, and representatives of record will be provided an opportunity to address derogatory information before any formal proceeding is initiated.

What should you do to prepare?

A.) Consider withdrawing your application for admission. This is an option available to you at initial inspection or deferred inspection, but may or may not be permitted by CBP. Available guidance tells us that withdrawal is not a given where there is an obvious deliberate fraud. But if someone acted “innocently or through ignorance, misinformation or bad advice, obtained an inappropriate visa, withdrawal should be given.

NOTE: In some of the cases being reported over the last several months, travelers were not advised they could request to withdraw their application for admission to the United States. So, you might have to pro-actively make this call, as opposed to waiting to be given the option by CBP.

B.) Make sure you carry fresh documentation to confirm you continue to meet the requirements for your particular visa category. For example, if you are an H-1B visa holder, have 2 recent paystubs. Depending on the circumstances of your particular case, you may also wish to have a letter from your Employer, confirming that you continue to be employed in good standing, and that while working, you are always under the direction and control of the H-1B Employer (as opposed to a third party company).

C.) Prepare yourself for questioning by US CBP. We suggest reading a copy of your underlying visa petition, and practicing answers to commonly asked questions, out loud.

D.) Prepare the company (your immediate supervisor) for a phone call. CBP has been calling employers to ask, among other things, why a US worker was not hired for your position.

E.) Discuss any concerns with your immigration attorney. Please call us if we may be of assistance.