April 2010 Archives

April 30, 2010

WHEN will Immigration Reform Pass?

Los Angeles is full of immigrants. California is a home to people from many nations. Fong & Aquino in Hollywood has clients from everywhere, and we get calls and inquiries from people all over the world. With all the talk about illegal aliens, unemployment, and the new "breathing-while-brown" law in Arizona, I keep getting one big question.

"WHEN will a comprehensive immigration law pass?"

I wish I could say that I am so god-like that I am always right. Most attorneys don't like being wrong -- and our clients do not like it, either, to tell the truth. If someone asked me six months ago whether immigration reform would pass, I would have said, "I think a new immigration law -- perhaps including a legalization program, the DREAM Act for young people who were brought to the USA by their parents, and a program to allow same-sex couples to immigrate on a similar basis to married couples -- will pass by the end of 2010."

I must confess that the political mess in Washington and the "culture of no" so internalized in the Republican Party has made the passage of comprehensive immigration reform unlikely by the end of the year. Could it happen? Yes. Is it likely? I don't think so.

I realize that this is a grave disappointment to immigrants, many of whom want to legalize and come out of the shadows, want to work legally and pay taxes, want to petition their relatives so that their families can be united. Unfortunately, I can only urge all US citizens and Legal Permanent Residents to write -- don't call, don't e-mail -- to their Congressperson and to their two US Senators to urge the passage of comprehensive immigration reform soon.

And cross your fingers. --jcf

April 26, 2010

Religious Organizations' Notification Requirements

According to CFR 214.2(r)(14), petitioners of religious workers are now required to submit a notification to USCIS when their beneficiary works less than 20 hours a week or employment is terminated before the expiration of the R-1 visa. This notification must be emailed (CSCR-1EarlyTerminationNotif@dhs.gov) or mailed to USCIS (California Service Center, Attn:X/BCU ACD, P.O. Box 30050, Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-3004) within 14 days upon the occurrence of either of the above events.

The notification must consist of:
1. reason for the notification and/or its delay
2. an approved, R-1 receipt number provided by USCIS
3. Petitioner's address, including name, address, telephone number, and employer's identification number (FEIN), and
4. R-1 beneficiary's information, including name, birthdate, country of birth, last known address, and phone number.

Failing to provide notice to USCIS may result in employer sanctions or other immigration penalties. The lawyers at Fong & Aquino welcome any questions from religious organizations regarding notification requirements. - ECF

April 2, 2010

All Travelers Subject to Review by Border Guards

Magnify Glass.jpgIn our blog of yesterday, 1 April 2010, we mentioned the new screening procedures at US ports of entry (POE). Fong & Aquino's clients travel a great deal, passing through Los Angeles and other immigration ports of entry. As lawyers to so many travelers, we try to provide accurate information about border issues. We have learned a little more about the new screening protocol.

In the past, all citizens of certain countries believed to be supporters of terrorism would all be scrutinized indiscriminately. Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Sudan are widely believed to have been on this list of soi-disant unfriendly countries. Citizens of other countries -- perceived as "friendly" to the USA -- would be subject to less scrutiny.

The new POE screening procedures use intelligence-based threat assessments. This information will be applied to all persons arriving at a POE, including Americans. If border guards have intelligence that -- let's pretend for a moment -- a university-age male student from Africa might be trying to engage in dangerous activity, then the border guards would be on the lookout for university-age male students from Africa. In contrast, university-age male students from, say, Malaysia, México, Moldova, Monaco, or Myanmar would not be subject to the same scrutiny.

This new, intelligence-based approach makes the most of the information provided by US intelligence sources without painting everyone with an indiscriminately broad brush. --jcf

April 1, 2010

Border Guards Will Finally Use Some Common Sense

The Barack Obama Administration recently announced that border guards at United States Ports of Entry (POE) will begin screening aliens arriving from certain countries based on specific information about threats to the USA. The immigration attorneys at Los Angeles' Fong & Aquino immigration law firm are advocates for national security balanced against sensible protections for civil rights. We hope this change will reduce the number of unwarranted, unreasonable, and (usually) unfriendly challenges to certain arriving visitors.

Since the New York terrorist attack in September 2001, the USA has maintained a list of approximately fourteen countries (the so-called "group of fourteen") which are considered to encourage state-sponsored terrorism, or which are believed to provide assistance to terrorists. The US would not even officially name the specific countries, or confirm the exact number of countries, on the list. All citizens of one of these countries -- of any gender, any age, any social class, any educational level, for any reason -- would be subjected to additional interrogation by US Border Guards.

The newly-announced change sets up a system which uses intelligence information and threat assessment -- about specific persons, specific targets, and specific descriptions, to identify passengers who might have a link to terrorism. Quite properly, those persons would be subjected to additional scrutiny. Others who do not meet the more reasoned threat profiles would be allowed to enter the USA in the way of other visitors.

For example: most people in the know would say that the Islamic Republic of Iran was part of the group of fourteen. All citizens from Iran -- absolutely all -- would be pulled aside and interrogated at POEs. Under the new system, if the US has specific information about a 26-year old male Iranian student, or an Iranian woman with a certain name, or even someone with a partial passport number, then persons meeting those descriptions will be pulled aside. This allows border guards to focus their efforts on persons about whom the USA has specific threat-related information. --jcf