Tuesday, November 26, 2013

JFK and Immigration Reform

During this past week there has been a lot of discussion about President John F. Kennedy on account of the 50th anniversary of his death.  A recent CNN poll found that JFK ranks as the most popular U.S. president of the last half century.  According to the poll, his approval rating currently stands at an impressive 90%.  Perhaps one of the reasons for the high level of favorability is the general optimism held by people of what Kennedy could have accomplished in a second term had he lived.  When he was assassinated that fateful day in Dallas on November 22, 1963, Kennedy was only two years, ten months, and two days into his presidency.  Hence, when he is compared to other presidents who served longer, a significant weight is put on his proposals for the future.  For example, a trip to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston would reveal that the exhibits there put a greater emphasis on his presidential election and speeches and less on his accomplishments than the other presidential libraries and museum do regarding the other presidents. 

One of Kennedy's documents that signals the direction that he would have gone as president had he lived is the proposal that he sent to Congress on July 23, 1963, a mere four months before his untimely death, to reform the U.S. immigration law as it existed at the time.   In 1963, immigration law was controlled largely by annual quotas based on national origin that had been in place since 1924.  President Kennedy believed that the quotas were unfair and should be eliminated.  The national origin quota system was created based on the composition of the nation's population as expressed in the 1920 census.  Kennedy argued that because of this, "the system is heavily weighted in favor of immigration from northern Europe and severely limits immigration from southern and eastern Europe and from other parts of the world."  However, immigration patterns had drastically changed since the early 1920s.  The immigration law with the national origin quotas was not equipped to handle the immigration reality of the 1960s. 

Therefore, Kennedy proposed that the system be substituted by one that allowed "those with the greatest ability to add to the national welfare, no matter where they were born, [to be granted] the highest priority" in being admitted into the country."  After this group of people, Kennedy stated the next priority should be "those who seek to be reunited with their relatives."

Yet, Kennedy did not believe that the national origin quota system should be eliminated overnight.  He believed "a reasonable time to adjust to any system must be provided if individual hardships upon persons who were relying on the present system are to be avoided."

Kennedy also made other suggestions in reforming the immigration laws.  He recommended that parents of American citizens, who at the time had preferred quota status, should not be subjected to the quota, and  a preference category should be created for parents of U.S. alien residents.  The first recommendation was later adopted into the law under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.  However, there is still no preference category for parents of legal permanent residents.

Furthermore, Kennedy believed that immigration law should be structured to promote the admission of talented people into the country.  He felt that the stringent immigration process robbed the country of individuals who "would be helpful to our economy and culture."  He advocated for a smooth and simple procedure that would allow "highly trained and skilled persons [to apply for residency] without requiring that they secure employment here before emigrating."   This is an idea that has remained alive in the subsequent decades.  Its proponents have shared Kennedy's view that the U.S. should do a better job of attracting the world's talent to come to live and work in the U.S.  The EB-1 program for "aliens of extraordinary abilities" has partly remedied this problem by allowing persons who have exhibited extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics to immigrate into the U.S. without having to first secure employment.

Finally, there were two other Kennedy proposals that are worth mentioning.  At the time in 1963, there were no numerical limitations imposed on the number of immigrants coming from independent countries in the Western Hemisphere.  Immigrants from these countries were not hindered by the immense backlogs that exist at present time.  An individual from such a country could apply to immigrate to the United States almost immediately.  However, such a benefit only applied to nationals born in countries in the Western Hemisphere, which had gained their independence prior to 1952.  Kennedy wanted to extend this benefit to those born in countries that gained independence after that date. Also, Kennedy found that one of things that slowed the immigrant process was that many of the quota numbers were filled up by individuals who had since died, refused to accept an immigrant visa, or had immigrated to other countries.   Kennedy suggested that the Secretary of State should have the authority to terminate the priority of such applicants, thereby increasing the number of immigrant visas available.  Both of Kennedy's aforementioned suggestions were incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.  Yet, prospective immigrants from Western Hemisphere countries are now subjected to the same preference categories as the rest of the world. 

The influence of John F. Kennedy's abbreviated presidency can still be felt fifty years later in different areas.  One such arena is that of U.S. immigration law.

The above information is provided for information purposes.  It should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

DACA: Lessons from a Year Later

Today marks the one-year anniversary that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program went into effect.  The DACA program is a temporary measure, implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that allows eligible individuals to apply for a discretionary determination on the part of the Department to defer a removal action.  If approved, the deferred action is valid for a period of two years and is renewable.  Recipients of the DACA program are eligible to work with approved employment authorization documents.   According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS"), 430,236 applicants have been approved for DACA since August 15, 2012. 

This past year has certainly been a good one for those 430,236 individuals who have been approved. With their work permits, they have been able to legally obtain social security numbers and, in most cases, driver's licenses.  This has allowed them to come out of the shadows of fear and into the light of renewed confidence.  It has been a big step for many of them who have been living in the United States for most of their lives. Yet because of the actions of their parents and others in bringing them into the United States as children illegally, they were prevented from living their lives free from the fear of deportation.  Now, DACA has given them a renewable reprieve of two years from that fear.  It is quite possible that many of the 430,236 DACA recipients might never again be faced with the terror of being removed from the country because of the actions of their parents and others that were taken in a time that many of them were not even old enough to remember.

For these fortunate 430,236, DACA has been a wonderful benefit.  However, with this benefit comes responsibility.  DACA has opened many doors for them.   There is the door of seeking and obtaining lawful employment.  There is the door of being able to drive the streets with a valid driver's license.  For many, there is the door to higher education.   All of these doors, and more, have opened in the last year for these 430,236.  They have the responsibility to take the opportunity of the open doors and walk through the threshold to a better life.  They have the responsibility to show the rest of the country that they have the potential for success.  But, that is only possible is they seize the opportunity of the open doors. 

Finally, the 430,236 must understand that DACA cannot be the end for them.  They must strive for more.  DACA is not legal status.  An individual who has been awarded DACA is not in legal immigrant status as a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or visa holder is.  The 430,236 continue to be in an undocumented or illegal status.   They must want more.  The House of Representatives is working on a KIDS Act that would allow many of the 430,236 and others like them to finally gain legal status in this country. However, many of those who would benefit from such a sweeping law have expressed disinterest.  The energy to see real change in their lives from just a few years ago has now turned into complacency.  Many have grown content with their new non-status.  It has become a sad current affair.  But, it does not have to be this way.  For the 430,236, and those that will join their ranks in the future, it cannot remain this way.  They must want legal status.  They must seize the opportunity of the open doors.  Only then, will they see real and lasting change in their lives.

The above information is provided for information purposes.  It should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Childhood Arrivals: Comprehensive or Piecemeal

There has been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about the desire of U.S. House of Representatives to "hit the reset button" on immigration reform after the U.S. Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill late last month.  Political pundits have been divided between those who view the actions of the House as evidence that immigration reform is dead for the remainder of this year and those who believe that it is simply a minor delay in the process.

Rather than continue the comprehensive approach of the Senate, the House has signaled that it will tackle the matter of immigration reform piece-by-piece.  This may be good news or bad news, depending on how one looks at it.  By breaking up the proposal into parts, there may be important aspects of it, essential to our country's future, that are left behind in the debate process.  On the other hand, a piecemeal approach would allow the parts where there is general consensus to move forward in debate and possibly be approved quickly without being held back by other more controversial measures.

One of the immigration issues that has the greatest amount of political support is the question as to what to do with those who were brought illegally into the country as children.  Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner expressed his support for granting legal status to those individuals in the country.   It was also revealed that Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Representative Bob Goodlatte are actively working on crafting such a bill.  The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold hearings on the issue next week.

What the Cantor-Goodlatte bill will include has yet to be revealed.  However, what is clear is that the bill must build upon the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program that was announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last summer.   Since August 15, 2013, the DACA program has allowed over 400,000 individuals to remain in the country without the fear of deportation for a period of two years with an authorization to work which can be renewed.   While DACA has been a blessing for those that it has benefited, it is not a law and is simply a temporary measure.  Therefore, by definition, the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to end the program at any time.  The Cantor-Goodlatte bill, if approved, would be federal law.  Hence, it would provide the stability and clarity to would-be applicants that DACA fails to radiate.

On a August 18, 2012 post entitled, DACA, DREAM Act and the hope of tomorrow, this blog related the story of "Rodolfo":
"Rodolfo" graduated summa cum laude from high school. He went on to college where he excelled in his classes. His future would look bright except for the fact that he is undocumented. His parents brought him to this country illegally when he was just two years old. It was not his choice to come to this country. It was not his decision to be an illegal alien. But, these are the circumstances that he finds himself in. "Rodolfo" graduated college, once again with honors. It took him longer to finish than his classmates. The international student tuition that he had to pay limited the number of classes that he could take at one time. But, he found a way to continue his studies and persevere until he reached his goal--graduation. After college "Rodolfo" dreamed of finally putting his knowledge to work and finding lawful employment. However, he continues to be imprisoned by his reality-- he is an undocumented immigrant. On August 15, tears filled "Rodolfo's" eyes. They were not tears of joy. They were of continued frustration. "Rodolfo" turned 31 years old on May 16, 2012, one month too early to be eligible to apply for DACA. There will not be employment authorization for "Rodolfo" under DACA. He will have to continue to wait. Shouldn't a person of "Rodolfo's" caliber and education achievement have a chance to succeed in our country? For "Rodolfo" and others like him, DACA is too little, too late.
The following weeks and months will be crucial in determining whether piecemeal approach of the House works in tackling immigration reform.  If so, the first beneficiaries may be those such as "Rodolfo" who entered the U.S. as children illegally.

The above information is provided for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Three Ways that Immigration Reform Could Fail to Pass

On Tuesday, June 11th, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to begin debate on the comprehensive immigration reform bill.  The vote was 82-15.   The lopsided procedural victory for the bill's proponents is leading many to mistakenly believe that the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform will be swift and assured. It will be neither.   In order for comprehensive immigration reform to be enacted, both the Senate and the House of Representatives would have to vote to approve it and the President sign it.  However, it is not as easy as it appears.  While it migrates through the legislative process a bill as large as this one is often bombarded by proposed amendments from all sides.  Many amendments are rejected.  Others are incorporated into the bill.  The ones added to the bill can either increase the bill's chances of passage by recruiting new supporters or doom it by antagonizing old ones.  Therefore, whether comprehensive immigration is approved will depend on how the legislative proposal changes.

There are several ways that comprehensive immigration reform could fail to pass.  This blog will illustrate three scenarios, ranging from the least probable to the most possible.   The first way that the effort to reform the immigration law could be derailed is if the extreme left demands that the legislation include immigration benefits for same-sex couples. While twelve states, along with the District of Columbia, have enacted same-sex marriage laws, the federal government does not recognize such unions.  The Defense of Marriage Act, notwithstanding the present legal challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court, defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman for all federal purposes.  Including such a provision in the immigration reform bill would be contrary to current federal law.  Furthermore, while recent polls show that just over half of all Americans now support same-sex marriage, it is unclear whether the same amount of support would also extend to immigrants. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont previously offered an amendment to provide immigration benefits to gay and lesbian couples when the bill was first being discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but withdrew it when it became clear that the amendment would hurt the bill's chances of being brought to the Senate floor.  Now, Senator Leahy has reintroduced his amendment.  Such a controversial change to the bill could shave off enough support from the bill to prevent it from receiving the necessary sixty votes to end debate and bring the bill up for a decisive vote. 

Another way that the comprehensive immigration reform bill could be defeated is if the extreme right includes an amendment that requires that unrealistic enforcement measures be met before most of the bill takes effect.   This could be in the form of a requirement that the U.S. spend an unconscionable amount of money to build and complete a border fence on the U.S./Mexico border.   While border security is an essential part of any viable immigration reform proposal, it should not be used as a noose to choke off other parts of the bills that are equally essential to the continual economic well-being of this country.   Another form of an unrealistic imposition is the requirement that an alien prove that he has satisfied any tax liability he may have incurred while being in the United States, before being eligible for registered provisional immigrant status.  While such a demand would make sense in theory, in practice it would be disastrous.   The individual who has been in the country in an undocumented status for over fifteen years would have a nearly impossible time gathering the necessary documents to satisfy this requirement.  Furthermore, the IRS would be inundated with new filings, which would increase the stress of its current overburden and inefficient structure, and it would create the breeding ground for widespread fraud and error.  Therefore, in light of this, including such a provision to the immigration proposal would probably be enough to tip it to the side of complete rejection.

Finally, the most probable way that the comprehensive immigration reform bill could fail to pass would be if the Senate approves its bill and the House of Representatives passes a different version and the two houses of Congress fail to reach a compromise, and therefore a bill would never reach the president’s desk for signature.   However, if they did reach a compromise, the resulting bill might not include the infamously misnamed “pathway to citizenship”.   Arguably the most controversial part of the comprehensive immigration bill currently debated in the Senate is the plan to put millions of undocumented immigrants on a long path to permanent residency, which would then give them the option of later pursuing U.S. citizenship.   A successful conclusion to a difficult negotiation between members of the House of Representatives and the Senate could end up hinging on the inclusion or exclusion of what would be properly termed as a “pathway to permanent residency”.    The negotiators could ultimately decide that the other parts of the bill are too important to risk losing in the face of opposition to the pathway to permanent residency.  They might agree, instead, to allow the millions of eligible undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States in a temporary status which would be renewable and would allow them to work legally in the country and to travel abroad.  However, such a status would not, per se, lead to permanent residency.   The negotiators might consent to revisit the possibility of those individuals being able to apply for permanent residency in the future. 
In the January 28, 2013 post entitled, Immigration Reform and its Two Main Adversaries, this blog stated:

Most individuals who wish to enter the United States do not want to do so to live here permanently, at least not initially. He wants to visit as a tourist, worker or student, and then return to his respective home country. There is no sense of permanence in his mind. It is only after the visitor is in the country and has accomplished his task, does the person consider stability in his life in the United States in the form of U.S. permanent residence. Finally, after acquiring residence will many of these immigrants wish a true sense of "belonging" in this country in the form of U.S. citizenship. Most individuals who would benefit from comprehensive immigration reform are in the first level--they wish to work or study in the United States without hindrance. Therefore, the vast majority would welcome a guest worker program that would help make their dreams to come true.

If the inclusion of a guest worker program is the best that can be done under the current political climate, would immigrant groups support the bill, and allow millions of undocumented immigrants to finally emerge from the shadows of anonymity and be able to obtain some sort of legal status?  Would they support the process of finally providing real reform for our nation’s immigration laws in the form of more work visas and faster immigration process?  Or will these so-called advocates take a myopic “all-or-nothing” approach and demand the bill’s defeat and the continuation of the utter failure that is the status quo?

While the comprehensive immigration reform bill enjoys a significant amount of support, its enactment into law is far from a certainty.  The three points mentioned above are probably the greatest threats faced by real immigration reform.   The coming months will be pivotal in determining if there will be real immigration reform.

The above information is provided for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal 
advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This Makes Immigration Sense-Squared

The last couple of weeks has seen a lot of talk about comprehensive immigration reform. A week ago, senators from both parties, led by John McCain and Chuck Shumer, announced the framework of a proposal that will be presented to the U.S. Congress in the near future. A day later, the President spoke in favor of the senators' framework and advocated for comprehensive immigration reform in general. However, these two events, the senators' announcements and the President's speech, are only words so far. The senators have yet to turn their framework into a legislative proposal and the President has not offered his own plan. Therefore, while these words are applauded, we must wait and see if these statements will lead to real action.

Nevertheless, lost in all of the reporting last week by the major news outlets was a real step towards action. On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, another bipartisan group of senators, led by Orrin Hatch, presented the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 or the "I-Squared Act". In the September 5, 2012 post, entitled The Future of Immigration Reform, this blog described what consisted immigration reform. The post stated, "Immigration reform would transform people's lives forever. Immigration reform would strengthen our nation's economy and put it in a better position to compete globally."

The I-Squared Act, if approved, would be true immigration reform. The proposal would work to re-enforce the economic engine of the nation. In the November 9, 2012 post entitled, Immigration, Innovation, Stability and Confidence, this blog wrote:

One of the clearest examples of [the nation's innovation] deficiency is in the H-1B professional work visa program. The H-1B program is the mechanism by which U.S. companies can petition to bring into the country highly qualified professionals to work in such occupations as computer programmers, engineers and physicians. In 1999, the U.S. government had a yearly quota of 65,000 H-1B work visas. The U.S. Gross Domestic Product ("GDP") for that year was $11 trillion. The yearly quota of H-1B visas was then tripled to 195,000 for the next few years, until it returned to 65,000 visas in 2004. Yet, the U.S. GDP for 2004 stood at $12.39 trillion, a 12.6% increase since 1999. The H-1B visa program had not been allowed to continue to grow along with the U.S. economy. Even in light of what many call the Great Recession, the U.S. economy continues to grow overall. Yet, the H-1B program has not continued to develop to adapt to such growth. In 2005, another 20,000 visas were added to the H-1B program, which were reserved for individuals with an advanced degree from a U.S. institution of high education. However, this did little to mitigate the massive 67% drop in visas allocation the prior year. It is essential that the U.S. expand its H-1B program if it wishes to continue its economic dominance.

Senator Hatch and his co-sponsors understand this argument. Their I-Squared Act would increase the H-1B annual cap from 65,000 to 115,000. Furthermore, the proposed legislation would allow the cap to be connected to the needs of industry for the H-1Bs. The cap could be adjusted up or down each year based on economic demands. In Immigration, Innovation, Stability and Confidence, this blog wrote of a hypothetical "Company W" that was investing a vast majority of its resources in trying to develop a revolutionary product. Its prospect of being successful in its endeavor hinged on being able to employ three foreign students who had been working on a similar product. However, "Company W' was prevented from hiring the trio because the H-1B cap had been exhausted for the year, therefore putting the company's future in jeopardy. Under the I-Squared Act, this scenario would likely not occur. Under the proposed law, if the cap were hit in the first 45 days of H-1B petitions  being filed, an additional 20,000 H-1Bs would be made available immediately. If the cap were met in the first 60 days, then an additional 15,000 H-1Bs would then be available. Finally, if the cap were reached in the first 90 days or during the 185-day period ending on the 275th day on which petition may be filed, the cap would be raised 10,000 and 5,000, respectively. Likewise, the proposal sets up benchmarks for which the cap can be lowered if the yearly demand for H-1B were to drop.

Current law allows an additional 20,000 H-1B for individuals with an advanced degree from a U.S. institution of high education. The I-Squared Act would remove the cap on these filings and allow companies to fully invest in the foreign talent currently being trained in the nation's premier universities.

The I-Squared Act would also transform people's lives. Currently, there are several impediments for an individual in the United States with a student visa, to explore options in remaining the country to live. The I-Squared Act would remove these obstacles. Moreover, the proposal would allow dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders to work. Under current law, H-4 visa holders (dependent of an H-1B holder) are not authorized to work. Therefore, many individuals have had to sacrifice their careers in order for their spouse to be able to obtain an H-1B. The I-Squared Act recognizes the modern reality that many families include a husband and wife who work.

Finally, the I-Squared Act would eliminate the annual per-country limits for employment-based visa petitioners and increase the per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas. In Immigration, Innovation, Stability and Confidence, this blog argued:

The U.S. government should also shorten the wait-times for persons who wish to immigrate to the United States. Currently, some of these cases are taking more the twenty years to process. The long delays cause confidence in the system to erode, thus contributing to the undocumented immigrant phenomenon.
The I-Squared Act would adopt this view and allow individuals and families to immigrate faster to the U.S.

Since the proposal meets the definitions set out as to what immigration reform really is, (it would transform people's lives forever and it would strengthen the nation's economy), and it embraces suggestions that this blog has made in the past few months, Mundus Migrationis  has no other choice than to welcome the introduction of the I-Squared Act.

The above information is provided for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Immigration Reform and its Two Main Adversaries

Recently, there has been much talk about the possibilities that this year the nation's immigration laws could finally be reformed thus allowing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to work towards obtaining their lawful permanent residence.  It is expected that this coming week a bipartisan group of U.S. senators will present  a plan for comprehensive immigration reform.  The details of the plan have yet to be revealed.  Nevertheless, there is a sense that the Republicans and Democrats may join together and approve the legislation.  There have been signs recently that this could happen.  Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, has been making the rounds of news shows advocating for immigration reform.  President Obama, a Democrat, in his second inaugural address last week, also expressed support for immigration reform and a Super PAC, Republicans for Immigration Reform, was created last November with the express purpose of pushing for immigration reform.

However, the implementation of immigration reform this year is anything but certain.  In order to modify the immigration laws, proponents of the change will need to defeat its two main adversaries.  One opponent is a group that is well-known.  It is comprised of those who believe in "enforcement only".  Their position is that the nation's immigration problems can be solved with a three-pronged approach: (1) secure the U.S. southern border to prevent individuals from crossing into the country illegally; (2) increase penalties of employers who hire illegal aliens thereby decreasing the number of illegal aliens working in the country; and (3) greater enforcement of current immigration law, leading to a greater number of individuals being removed from the country.  This group led the successful opposition to the last real efforts for immigration reform in 2006 and 2007.   Yet, its influence in the political process is much weaker than in years past.  More resources than ever before have been applied to secure the southern border.   Second, in the past years the federal and state governments have taken a harsher position against business with the implementation of such programs as E-Verify. Finally, the current presidential administration holds the distinction of being the one that has removed or deported the most individuals from the country in a four year period.  Yet, there are approximately 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants who continue to reside in the country. Therefore, this group's prescriptions to the immigration problem no longer appear as convincing as before.

Although, the second group has not been as visible or vocal in the past as the "enforcement only" group, it presents as much danger to the approval of comprehensive immigration reform.  This group could be termed the "anti-guest worker" group.  Any proposal announced this year regarding comprehensive immigration reform would most likely include a guest worker program component, which if approved, would have the applicant in a temporary worker or "guest worker" status that could last between a couple of years to over a decade before the applicant would receive lawful residence, if at all.  The "anti-guest worker" group believes that a guest worker program is a non-starter in any proposal and it would lead the opposition to it. The group takes the position that a guest worker program would be tantamount to "second class citizenship", which in its view is an insult to immigrants.
Unfortunately, the "anti-guest worker" group fails to understand the mindset of the typical immigrant.  Most individuals who wish to enter the United States do not want to do so to live here permanently, at least not initially.  He wants to visit as a tourist, worker or student, and then return his respective home country.  There is no sense of permanence in his mind.  It is only after the visitor is in the country and has accomplish his task, does the person consider stability in his life in the United States in the form of U.S. permanent residence.  Finally, after acquiring residence will many of these immigrants wish a true sense of "belonging" in this country in the form of U.S. citizenship.   Most individuals who would benefit from comprehensive immigration reform are in the first level--they wish to work or study in the United States without hindrance.  Therefore, the vast majority would welcome a guest worker program that would help make their dreams to come true.  Yet, if the "anti-guest worker" have its way, they remain just dreams.
It is only after our leaders, influential groups, and the public in general understand the levels of "temporary", "stability", and "belonging", will comprehensive immigration reform have a chance of being approved.  One of the primary reasons that the push for immigration reform failed in 2006 and 2007 was bad marketing.  It was presented at the time as a "pathway to citizenship", which gave the wrong impression that those that would benefit would skip the "temporary" and "stability" level and automatically reach "belonging" i.e., U.S. citizenship.  This was understandably repulsive to the rest of the  U.S. population, along with former immigrants who had gone through the levels themselves. The truth was that it was a "pathway to permanent residence", which would have taken the applicant to the "temporary" level first and then "stability".  While the person could have continued on to apply for U.S. citizenship, this would have been beyond the process being outlined.

Finally, comprehensive immigration reform needs to be true immigration reform.  In a September 5, 2012 post, entitled The Future of Immigration Reform, this blog stated that, "Immigration reform would transform people's lives forever. Immigration reform would strengthen our nation's economy and put it in a better position to compete globally."  The proposal expected to be announced this week in the U.S. Senate must be aimed to achieve these goals in order to be considered real reform.
If so, comprehensive immigration reform can be implemented if it can withstand the opposition of its two main adversaries, the "enforcement only" and "anti-guest worker" groups.  This can be done with a proper understanding and adequate marketing of the legislation.

The above information is provided for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal 
advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Citizen's Almanac Part II

A few months ago, I wrote about The Citizen’s Almanac, a publication printed by the Office of Citizenship of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).   I mentioned that USCIS tries to promote the importance of U.S. citizenship by giving a copy of the publication to every new citizen.  I stated that The Citizen’s Almanac includes a variety of information on the U.S., such as "Patriotic Anthems and Symbols of the United States", "Fundamental Documents of American Documents" and "Landmark Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court".   Furthermore, I discussed how one of the most important discussions in the publication is that regarding the "inalienable rights" found in the Declaration of Independence.

Today I wish to return to the topic of The Citizen’s Almanac. An important theme that catches the reader’s attention while reading The Citizen’s Almanac is the symbolic importance of  the patriotic songs, the excerpts from historical documents such as founding documents and speeches, and the contribution made by prominent foreign born men and women.  For many Americans, patriotism is something that is unconsciously being learned from a young age. The opportunities that the United States provides for its people is what many around the world covet and will go to drastic measures to obtain but too often native born American citizens take for granted the  opportunities provided. The Citizen’s Almanac provides naturalized citizens with a simple text that promotes patriotism and a sense of belonging. However, along with opportunities, becoming an American citizen brings with it rights and responsibilities.

The responsibilities of an American citizen include:

·         Support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

·         Stay informed of the issues affecting your community

·         Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws. 

·         Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.

·         Participate in your local community

·         Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.

·         Serve on a jury when called upon.

·         Defend the country if the need should arise.

The rights of an American citizen include:

·         Freedom to express yourself.

·         Freedom to worship as you wish.

·         Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.

·         Right to keep and bear arms. 

·         Right to vote in elections for public officials.

·         Right to apply for federal employment.

·         Right to run for elected office.

·         Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

An excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is the last item printed in The Citizen’s Almanac.  It is not within any particular section.  Rather, it stands on its own on the back side of the cover. The location in which the excerpt was printed really catches the eye of the astute reader. It is as if the Office of Citizenship in publishing the publication was making sure that if nothing else throughout the text caught the reader’s attention, then it would make one final effort to make sure that at least thing remains in his mind. It is ironic that after last year’s presidential election the president that was in the spotlight was Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln was the hot topic because residents in approximately thirty states had filed secession petitions with the “We the People Program” on the White House website. After reading the excerpt from Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address one is reminded why Lincoln was such an important figure.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”— Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.
The Citizen's Almanac is a wonderful tool in understanding what it is to be "American". It is available for purchase from U.S. Government Printing Office at bookstore.gpo.gov.

The above information is provided for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.