Sunday, March 18, 2007

Immigrants, the Pathway, and Rogers Park

Our community is diverse, in part, because it remains tolerant. It is also affordable and relatively safe in an era when more and more are getting pressured to move. The diversity in Rogers Park is both a strength and a weakness. We need to give those who entered without inspection and those who overstayed a chance to finally live a normal life. This means that we need to join them in letting Congress in D.C. know what it means to live without legal status.

Most earn more than the wages in their nation. Yet, their employers are often a curse and a cure. The employers need employees. Many local unskilled Citizens and permanent residents do not have the persistence to see a job through to the point that training is accomplished. Who do these 'so-called' unscrupulous employers turn to? They turn to the people in the community, many of whom need a job to support their family and sustain themselves. Papers be damned, these folks take risks and our Government seems to have trouble consistently enforcing the law. Inconsistent is what puts these folks in fear and often foreigners and employers simply forget that what they are doing may be criminal. Yet, somehow they don't seem to appreciate the power that the Government has post 1986 to close their operations.

For those who recall the Simpson Mazzola Act, those who lived here since 1981 were given a chance to prove it, among other qualifications. These unlawfuls, some who also overstayed visas, were allowed to file for relief with a series of disqualifications. This meant that those who were convicted of three misdemeanors need not apply. Those who were J-1 visa holders subject to a two year residence bar did not qualify for legalization. Those who committed fraud were subject to provisions that allowed them to petition for an exception; this does not mean that these candidates received a greencard (permanent resident status). What these folks received, if denied, was a sealed file. That is, if they tried to apply for legalization and failed, they could not be deported for their efforts to come out from the woodwork.

The Act which became known to the Immigration Bar as "IRCA" also contained a rather lame series of enforcement provisions. I say lame, not because they could be enforced, but lame because no enforcement agency or Congress in its right mind would be willing to become the Elliot Ness of deporting aliens and thwarting economic growth. IRCA came without a reasonable means to secure affordable workers. This meant that the economy would continue to rely on unlawful workers, even if employers had to fill out forms to confirm that employees were eligible to work. These 1986 laws were unfunded mandates.

The funds needed to adjudicate all of the legalization applications took a heavy toll on the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The application backlogs from this process made routine marriage petitions and adjustments an ordeal that could last well over a year, often two. Although, the fall out really took place in the nineties, many applicants later used a penalty clause that allowed them to pay a $500 to $1000 penalty, so that their spouses and parents could remain in the U.S. to process.

The backlogs, combined with the loss of many service and unskilled positions to other nations led to economic turmoil. Many Americans who relied upon long term unskilled positions or overseers of the unskilled watched as those assembly positions left the U.S. and Chicago for that matter. The workers were not their. The concern over labor and immigration laws made it easier to send those jobs overseas to India, Malaysia and other nations. The professional and skilled postions remained to some extent. The era of the multinational has created the sucking sound out of the U.S. heard all over the world. Such a vacuum has meant that the technical support haven is becoming more and more part of the fabric of India. If we cannot bring in talented workers quick enough, the jobs go out. Multi-national corporations have that option.

Those affected sometimes blamed those Mexicans who entered without visas. Often, those people were simply reacting to the challenges facing the unskilled, as well. These foreign workers had no means of securing unskilled work visas, because the red tape involved for an employer to secure the visas made it too costly. Often, those who secured visas went to non-attorneys, who may have misrepresented the actual intentions of the employers. The so-called consultants were given free reign to work, because the Department of Homeland Security did not have the funds to verify fraud, nor the resources to close down these operations. Often, where there are false promises, there is victimization, as well. Once the operation appeared questionable, visas were denied, and applicants not only lose their money, but their means to a visa.

In the end, we have an immigration and visa system on the verge of complete meltdown. A system that wants to create more oppressive laws, rather than create a manageable skill set for law enforcement to impose upon the community. The need for repeal, not enactment is just as important as a legalization.
There are many millions who live in our neighborhoods and in the suburbs, who have yet to secure permanent resident status. The Government has a system that cannot meaningfully enforce, because too much is needed to make the system work. Such costs would eliminate our nations true needs (as if, we already struggle with that concept). It is not that Government gives up; it is that there is a need for the community to appreciate priorities.

Advocates for deporting all unlawful immigrants cannot justify the enormous cost to do so. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has too big a job simply removing all of those foreigners who perpetually return after they have been deported. The repeated work on the same subjects is mentally debilitating. Most have U.S. Families and simply want to remain unified. The desire to move forward and deal with the most severe offenders cannot be undertaken if we try to deport every civil immigration offender in our communities. Something has to give.

Last years "Pathway" to Citizenship was a lame Bipartisan attempt to apease the anti-immigration lobby. It creates a ten year near indentured servitude on those who want permanent resident status. We need more like a "highway" to Citizenship! That is, one that works like Legalization, but has the funds to disqualify those who must be disqualified as matter of law. Unlike its twin sister of the 80's, this highway needs a staff willing to say no, when the evidence just 'does not cut the mustard.'

Dedicated Immigration Attorneys and community immigration advocates simply want a program. Anti-Immigration advocates who want zero immigration are simply ignoring what is happening in spite of the insufficient money being poured into border fencing and space age technology. No amount of innovation will beat down the human spirit. Many of us don't want a hypocritical system is significant inconsistency. We want to represent that our laws are fair, yet realistic to be meaningfully enforced. We cannot afford to continue to deport the spouses of Citizens for the sake of "I told you so" mentalities. A better way to deal with our moral frustration with the violators of civil immigration laws is to consider our options, as well.

If some truly think that it is not worth living in this nation of immigrants, then we have the right to consider residence in Geneva, Germany, Guayana, or any other place willing to ignore our presence. Most nations will accept Americans with open arms. Our dollars keep their economies going. Also, some Americans have made a go in Mexico, among other places. However, if we expect other nations to change their immigration laws and improve their economies that discourages emigration, then we need to put pressure upon them from within.

The emigration of some American Farmers to South and Central America makes quite a bit of sense. Yet, the concern that de-forestation can impact the vast potential of the natural beauty of those nations is of equal concern. I wish that more Americans will use the values learned and try to preserve all that which is good in other nations, where they no longer feel comfortable in our nation of immigrants.
It is written "You shall not wrong a stranger (ger) or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20). In addition, it is also written "You know the mind of a stranger [for you were strangers in the land of Egypt], " which is added (23:9). Most U.S. Citizens are the benefactors of our immigrant ancestors, many of whom first tolled as strangers in America. A vicious circle can end simply be recognizing the limitations our nation and the reasonable needs of others, many of whom did not have a choice when they entered as children.


Thomas Westgard said...

Interesting that you mention Switzerland specifically. Their immigration and naturalization laws are extremely strict, much more so than ours. I have friends, EU citizens, who have tried to immigrate to Switzerland without luck. There are many people who immigrate to a neighboring country, especially France, and commute into Geneva.

I've read that, under Swiss law, a person born on Swiss soil is not thereby a Swiss citizen - not too much unusual about that. What is unusual is that the child of Swiss citizens is also not necessarily a Swiss citizen - they have to apply. The application process for a child of Swiss citizens is much easier than someone who is not, but still!

lafew said...

One of the biggest uncontrolled challenges in Europe is unlawful immigration. Europe is powerless and it has learned that strict laws don't work. The response; Germany has had more regular purges into permanent resident and citizenship status in recent years. In fact, Germany eclipsed the U.S. with its Citizenship and resident program. This affects a tremendous number of Turks and Persians.

This was done in addition to the annexation of East Germany in the early nineties. It still has not solved its unlawful immigration challenges. It suffers from the fact that Germans, like Americans, lack the will to turn their nations into police states.

Americans went through the Red Scare, which was often a political front. However, RS deported quite a few allegedly undesirable Russians and created family dis-unity that ended when the Holocaust and WW II took the lives of most of those deported Russian and Slavic Jews. The Twenties were roaring, alright, but the South Side Jewish Community did have its share of Holocaust victims. Their only sin; they did not apply quick enough for Citizenship.

In the past, the criminal courts swore in aliens. Why? Well, the Immigration system was enacted in the 1890s, but various Immigration Acts made life intolerable for some Groups.

If you need more information on our political immigration system, Read Laws as Harsh as Tigers, by Lucy E. Salyers.

It will only cost as little as $4.99 plus about $4 for shipping, used. A very insightful book on Asian immigration over the years.

I don't recall saying much about Switzerland.

lafew said...

Yes, I did mention Geneva. Yes, I did have a U.S. Citizen client who married a Swiss woman and now lawfully lives in Geneva. Immigration to Geneva ended up easier for that particular couple.

Marrying a U.S. Citizen will not secure permanent resident status in and of itself. There are many ways for a foreigner to disqualify themself (i.e. INA 212(a)(9)(B), etc.) In fact, marriage fraud is a permanent bar based upon INA Section 204c. There is no way to lawfully overcome direct marriage fraud. There is no waiver of inadmissibility.

There are also many other permanent and unwaivable grounds. These facts, when present, have no remedy. There are a lot of emotional ticking timebombs in the U.S. Many don't realize that the marriage to a U.S. Citizen and U.S. children can mean zilch under U.S. Immigration laws Post-1986. However, I would have to check to confirm whether 204c was enacted in the 1950s.

Yes, foreigners suffer under our immigration system likely more. In Switzerland, I think that some American are getting a bit of their own medicine with a bit of sour apple flavor added for the Swiss Zenophobic's protection. I am sure that a few Swiss Citizens have had experiences with our under funded U.S. system. Perhaps, the Swiss are more efficient and the U.S. is more uncomfortable with enforcing our draconian laws.

The consequences: deny,delay, don't relay the message. Remember, it is the messenger who is often shot in the processing. I hope that you will look into the U.S. Immigration System and get educated. This is one of many examples of an unknown, unwaivable, permanent bar.

Imagine if you marry Fraulein Maria, only to find out that she is permanently barred from securing a green card through marriage. Auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. Of course, then, an American may find that they can more easily immigrant to Dusseldorf. I hear that they have good whine in the rhine (about U.S. Immigration). FWIW.

lafew said...

One minor point, for U.S. Citizenship, a child born to U.S. Citizens, abroad must also prove Citizenship 'jus sangre' or of the blood.

The process is undertaken through a "certificate of birth abroad." If the U.S. parents are unsuccessful, then it can become a complete mess. In fact, to secure a "certificate of birth abroard," some U.S. Citizens must submit to DNA testing to prove parentage.

The DNA testing has gotten further messed up if the "chain of custody" forms are not properly filled out by the DNA lab. Consular Officials have been known to reject DNA tests from unapproved DNA labs, as well.

The U.S., by analogy, has similar challenges. Yes, an application for a certificate of birth abroad is also required.