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Last week, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a series of immigration enforcement operations nationwide, otherwise known as “raids” to crack down on illegal immigration. The operations took place over a five-day period in the metropolitan cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, and New York City, and resulted in the arrest of more than 680 individuals. According to the Department of Homeland Security, these raids were targeted at convicted criminals unlawfully present in the United States, persons who are a threat to our public safety, including gang members, and “individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws” by illegally re-entering the country after having been removed, including fugitives who could not be found after having been ordered removed by federal immigration judges. Additionally, DHS reported that of those who were arrested, approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including “homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.”

Communities across the United States went into uproar, after reports began pouring in that hundreds of non-threatening individuals including mothers and children were being taken into custody and removed from the United States during these operations. One of the first such individuals to be arrested was Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a Mexican mother of two U.S. Citizen children, who was detained by ICE at a routine check point in Phoenix, after having lived 20 years in that state. Garcia de Rayos had come to the United States illegally as a child. She was arrested during a 2008 raid on her Arizona workplace on suspicion that the business was hiring undocumented immigrants using fraudulent IDs. Garcia de Rayos was taken into custody six months later, when investigators discovered discrepancies in her employment documents. She pled guilty in 2009 to criminal impersonation and was sentenced to 2 year’s probation. Despite these offenses, Guadalupe was considered to be a “low priority” of enforcement and was required to check in with immigration officials.

After news broke of her arrest, the Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging Mexican nationals to contact the Mexican consulate for immigration assistance, information relating to their immigration rights, and protections offered to them by the Center for Information and Assistance to Mexicans (CIAM). According to the Foreign Ministry, Mexican consulates in the United States have allocated additional resources to protect the rights of Mexican nationals. The Foreign Ministry added that they anticipate these immigration raids will increase in severity and are likely to violate the due process of rights of Mexican nationals.

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Recently, the Israeli government approved a proposal from Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar for American investors who wish to visit Israel on a more frequent basis.  It is a new arrangement that is part of a recent program to allow Israelis seeking to invest in the U.S. and who wish to stay to develop and manage their business, will be given similar special conditions.

The approval of the plan by the American embassy in Israel is conditioned on the granting of benefits to American investors in Israel. According to this plan, Israeli investors who obtain approval from American authorities will be offered a fast track entry into the US and will receive E2 visas that allow stays of up to two years in the United States.

This new plan will be implemented within the next few months, after several legislative amendments required to complete it are made. Following the approval of the plan, Sa’ar said that the “US is a major economic partner for Israel. It is the main source of foreign investment in Israel and is at the same time one of the major destinations for investments by Israelis. Investor visas constitute another stage in the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement and will promote the economic cooperation of the two countries”, Sa’ar added.

It is that time of year where companies and individuals are preparing to send their cases to US Immigration to apply for an H-1B visa. Last year the entire cap was filled in the first week of filing, meaning many people were left out and could not get an H-1b visa. When thinking about how many people could not get jobs through this process, an organization that has studied the affects of H-1b visas on the market came out with a job loss calculator, which estimates the numbers of American jobs lost due to the lack of H-1b visas. Compete America’s calculator estimates that 500,000 new U.S. jobs could have been created this year absent outdated restrictions on H-1B visas. From another perspective, according to Compete America, the 2.37 million new payroll jobs created in 2013 might have been increased by 21 percent under a different H-1B scheme.

So what does this calculator really highlight? Well, the calculator clearly shows the fact that higher-skilled immigrant workers impact the U.S. economy, helping push cutting-edge innovation, which then creates more jobs for everyone. According to a new report by Standard & Poor’s, “Adding Skilled Labor to America’s Melting Pot Would Heat Up U.S. Economic Growth,” which means highly skilled immigrants help create jobs for American workers,  not take them away like many who stand opposed to increasing the cap would claim. Higher skilled workers actually complement U.S. workers’ skills instead of competing with them, and are more likely to start a new business than U.S.-born workers, which further increases innovation and productivity, according to S&P. Research from the National Foundation for American Policy suggests the hiring of each H-1B worker actually creates employment for 7.5 workers in small to mid-sized technology companies.

The insufficient number of H-1B visas goes to a deeper problem of having an outdated system that cannot respond to the demands of an ever-changing economy. Absent a few years of temporary increases, the cap on H-1B visas for skilled workers with bachelor’s degrees has been set at 65,000 per year for more than 20 years. Since demand far exceeds supply, the cap runs out every year, which last year’s cap was filled the first week it was open.

By Andrew Desposito (an Irish-American immigration attorney)

While many will be celebrating the holiday wearing green clothing, eating or drinking green food and celebrating with some Irish music, today is also a day for many Irish-Americans to remember why this day is celebrated. Most Irish-Americans in the United States are descendants of immigrants who came to the U.S. seeking better lives. It is about our ancestors leaving that country, often in bitter circumstances, and risking everything on a hazardous journey and being met with fierce hostility and scorn. It is about immigrants struggling, and mostly succeeding, in their new life, or making success possible for their children and grandchildren.

It is a story that should describe all newcomers to America. Before the mass exodus from Ireland provoked by the great potato famine of the 1840s, new arrivals to North America were either settlers or slaves. The Catholic Gaelic Irish were the first cohort consistently labeled as “immigrants” in the modern, quasi-pejorative sense, and their experience established a stereotype, a template, applied ever since to whichever national or ethnic group happened to be the latest impoverished arrivals: French-Canadians, Chinese, Italians, Eastern Europeans, or Latinos. But thinking about the contributions of Irish-Americans to the U.S., their story is the same as many others who immigrate to the U.S. with hopes and dreams of a better life. In time, many Irish-Americans rose through the ranks of business and politics to reach the heights of our society (think President John F Kennedy, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, etc). The U.S. is a place where any who come has a chance of doing great things.

For those who will go through the marriage petition process, the very end of the process comes at the interview for your green card. During the interview the immigration officer asks the beneficiary if they have ever lied to them for an immigration benefit. This question tends to come early on in the interview because anything said during the interview will then be taken into consideration regarding that question, by which they swore under oath that they have not done. The seriousness and consequence that this question poses can be applied even years after the interview happened.

Recently a client of ours was issued a Request for Documents from the USCIS field office that held the client’s marriage interview more than years ago. The request stated that our client was made inadmissible because it stated she misrepresented herself at the marriage interview when she said she worked for a company that was a “non-existent, fictitious shell company”. While this allegation was not true of our client, since they were never given the opportunity to rebut this claim it was required of us to file a hardship waiver to handle the inadmissible status of the client.

There are two issues to this situation that needed to be addressed, the first issue was the allegations against the client. The determination by USCIS that our client was inadmissible was not founded on any facts that had been challenged or questioned by immigration throughout the entire process. What occurred was that USCIS found out through its background checks of our clients work history that one of its employers ended up being a bad company and ended up folding. It concluded that because our client worked for the company, that it must have known the company was not a legitimate company and therefore lied about working for a legitimate company. All of these assumptions were never questioned during the marriage interview nor was a second interview issued to address what came up while the case was pending (for more than two years). Although the hardship waiver was needed in filing the response, the record needed to reflect that this was an egregious error on USCIS’ part since it neither gave our client nor her husband the chance to address the implied allegations laid against them. Despite the fact that our client had an approved petition from USCIS that was for the “non-existent, fictitious shell company”, they still implied by making her inadmissible that she must have had knowledge of their fraudulent practices. Our response to USCIS made it clear that no such proof exists and that without concrete evidence confirming her knowledge of their activities that she cannot be held accountable for their actions.

Reflecting back on the State of the Union Address, it has been a month since President  Obama said he was not afraid of using his executive powers to make sure immigration reform will happen. There is pressure on President Obama from those whose favor he curried heading into the 2012 election. Young immigrants, members of United We Dream (UWD), are demanding that the president stop deportations of illegals.

Young immigrants may be in luck.  Recent polls are showing that for the first time that Americans are just as concerned about what to do with people already in the country illegally as they are about securing our borders. Historically, people have been more worried about shutting down border crossings.

Further confirmation of a sea-change in attitude comes from a recent CNN poll. Last month, in answer to “What should be the main focus of the U.S. government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration,” 54 percent selected “developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become legal U.S. residents.” Only 41 percent chose “developing a plan for stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here.” In 2010, the numbers were significantly higher calling for tighter border security.

Canada has recently terminated two investor immigrant programs, an act that has Chinese agencies saying the policy change is unfair. The Canadian policy is a signal to wealthy applicants that they must improve their social integration in and increase financial contributions to destination countries. “All of Canada’s immigration programs are open to anyone who meets the criteria, and do not target specific countries,” the Canadian embassy in China told China Daily.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in a written interview that China “has been among the top sources for more than a decade”, and immigration is a key part of Canada’s plan to “grow our economy, spur job creation, and ensure long-term prosperity for all Canadians”.

The Immigrant Investor Program requires investors to have a minimum net worth of 1.6 million Canadian dollars ($1.5 million) and to invest 800,000 Canadian dollars in the form of a multi-year, interest-free loan to the government. Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Services have stated that: “Research shows that immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other economic immigrants, are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium- to long-term and often lack the skills, including official language proficiency, to integrate as well as other immigrants from the same countries.”

By Ekaterina Powell, Esq.

As H-1B season is about to begin and companies across the U.S. are preparing for the H-1B recruitment period, we would like to remind our readers about the employment terms specific to H-1B candidates.

H-1B nonimmigrants are a great way for many employers to supplement their workforce when there is a shortage of qualified American workers. H-1B program can be an alternative to outsourcing when the shortage of labor exists. The H-1B visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. temporarily for an initial term of three years to engage in professional occupations. Hiring an H-1B nonimmigrant is not an easy task. Apart from the tedious visa process, employers spend considerable time and resources in screening candidates, lengthy international telephone interviews, arranging for relocation of the candidates, training, etc. Sometimes however, after all these efforts in trying to bring the workforce into the U.S., today’s competitive marketplace serves as a tough reality for these employers as some of the H-1B nonimmigrants choose to leave the employers shortly after entering the U.S. in search for better opportunities.