Monday, March 29, 2010

US naturnalized citiaen of the day - Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons was born in Haifa, Israel in 1949, and is the only child of his mother, a German Nazi Concentration Camp survivor.

The Possibilities of CIR

With reform at a standstill for now, administrative fixes and Presidential executive orders are the sole game in town, but only if the President and his Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, are willing to play." Mar. 26, 2010.

Friday, March 26, 2010

ABC's Jeffrey Kofman on Becoming an American Citizen

This is a GREAT article by Jeffrey Kofman of ABC news about his naturalization process. I highly reccomend reading it.

On February 25, 2010, Jeffrey Kofman, ABC’s Miami-based Correspondent for Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America, became a U.S. citizen. Kofman was born in Toronto, Canada. He moved to the United States in 1997 and joined ABC News in 2001.

He was asked to deliver the keynote address to the 224 other New Americans who were sworn in at the same ceremony at the Miami headquarters of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Here are his remarks:

We are now Americans.

We ARE Americans.

To all of you – all 224 of you – congratulations!

US Citizen of the Day- Cary Grant

Archibald Alexander Leach[2] (January 18, 1904 was born in England. He was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. His popular classic films include The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Notorious (1946), To Catch A Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963).

HBO Film Documents Immigration Battle

"Many of the lead players in the film are still in the game, but on different teams. Esther Olavarria, Mr. Kennedy’s indefatigable staff negotiator, is now an aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Ms. Muñoz is a policy adviser in the White House. Two leading lobbyists, Frank Sharry and Angela Maria Kelley, are trying one more time to legalize illegal immigrants, in a Congress where the faint bipartisan impulses left at the end of this film have faded entirely." NYT, Mar. 24, 2010.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Naturalized US Citizen of the Day- Martina Navratilova

She was born October 18, 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia

Restaurant raids


The filing of federal criminal charges against six Springfield restaurant employees on March 10 reflects a change in workplace enforcement strategy by the government agency charged with fighting illegal immigration.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement determined that the men — five of whom were employees of Texas Roadhouse restaurant and the other an employee of Chili’s and Chipotle restaurants — had obtained their jobs by presenting fraudulent resident alien and Social Security cards to the restaurants.

ICE agents served a notice of inspection to verify employment eligibility on Texas Roadhouse Nov. 19. Six days later, the agency received 110 form I-9s for the restaurant’s workers.

ICE review and database checks allegedly uncovered the fraud.

“Since ICE’s work force enforcement strategy changed in April 2009, we’ve been focusing more on the audits process as opposed to large operations,” said ICE spokesman Gail Montenegro. “We’re now looking more at the paperwork or documents.”

More than 1,000 I-9 inspections have been done across the country since last April, compared to only 503 in all of fiscal 2008, she said. So far, 142 notices of intent to fine have been sent to businesses as a result of those inspections compared to 32 the previous year. The fine notices amount to almost $15.9 million.

The auditing process “is sending a message that the integrity of employment records is just as important as other records,” as well as promoting compliance, Montenegro said.

ICE is seeing a pattern of immigrants moving to smaller metropolitan areas, such as Springfield, she added.

“It’s a factor of where jobs are available,” she said.

The Chicago ICE office is responsible for enforcing immigration laws in six states. The Springfield office is a sub-office of Chicago.

ICE conducts enforcement actions not at random, but based on specific evidence or intelligence that it receives, Montenegro said.

Previous arrests of illegal workers at Springfield restaurants took place because of information developed after a shoplifting arrest and a minor traffic stop.

Part of the new “targeted enforcement” initiative is to serve businesses with audit notices based on information ICE receives. Montenegro said she couldn’t say what prompted the Texas Roadhouse notice of inspection because the file remains open.

“In the process of auditing, the employer can be found to be completely in compliance,” she said. “Or there can be civil penalties and even criminal charges.”

In a 2006 immigration case in Springfield, the co-owner of the Buffet City restaurant was convicted in federal court of knowingly recruiting illegal aliens and hiring them to work at his restaurant.

“Our goal is to protect employment opportunities for the nation’s legal workforce,” Montenegro said. “One of our priorities is going after employers who are egregiously circumventing laws for financial benefit. Another is attacking recidivism by targeting people who previously have been deported and re-enter the country illegally.”

One of the six men arrested March 10 had been previously deported and is charged with a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Chris Dettro can be reached at 788-1510.

Springfield restaurant raids

* June 2000 — Eight people are arrested at Cancun restaurant, 2849 S. Sixth St. The restaurant doesn’t reopen.

The arrests are the result of a shoplifting charge against one of the men, who is found to be in this country illegally and tells police others are, too.

A few days later, two illegal workers are taken into custody at Xochimilco on West Iles Avenue and another at The Grand Buffet, 2753 Veterans Parkway.

* November 2000 — Six workers at the Cancun restaurant in Sherman are deported after it is found they are in the country illegally. A traffic stop in Southern View led to their arrest.

* September 2006 — Fifteen workers and a co-owner are taken into custody at Buffet City, 1774 Wabash Ave., and the restaurant is closed. The co-owner is charged with recruiting illegal aliens for employment and the workers — all from China or Mexico — are deported.

Another restaurant, New Buffet City, opens the following year at the same location with a new owner.

* March 2010 — Six Springfield restaurant workers are charged in federal court with using false documents to get work in the United States. Five of the men worked at Texas Roadhouse, another at both Chili’s and Chipotle restaurants.

Copyright 2010 The State Journal-Register. Some rights reserved

Court to weigh citizenship rule that varies by sex

"The Supreme Court is entering a curious corner of U.S. immigration law that applies only to children born outside the U.S. to one parent who is an American and one who is not. The law makes it easier for children whose mother is a citizen to become citizens themselves. Even after reform legislation in 1986, children of American fathers face higher hurdles claiming citizenship for themselves

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Naturalized US citizen of the Day- Pam Anderson

Fresh off her first dancing with the Stars, this Canadian born bombshell was born in Canada

CIR protest is a last sitch effort to Reform our laws

"Tens of thousands of immigrants and their supporters from across the United States packed the Mall on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to spur Congress and the White House to overhaul the nation's immigration system and offer its 10.8 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship this year against increasingly long odds."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Naturalized Citizen of the Day- Elie Wiesel

Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE (born September 30, 1928 in Romania) is a writer, professor at Boston University, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, the best known of which is Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. His diverse range of other writings offer powerful and poetic contributions to literature, theology, and his own articulation of Jewish spirituality today.

President Obama praises CIR effort

Statement by the President Praising the Bipartisan Immigration Reform Framework
In June, I met with members of both parties, and assigned Secretary Napolitano to work with them and key
constituencies around the country to craft a comprehensive approach that will finally fix our broken immigration
system. I am pleased to see that Senators Schumer and Graham have produced a promising, bipartisan
framework which can and should be the basis for moving forward. It thoughtfully addresses the need to shore up
our borders, and demands accountability from both workers who are here illegally and employers who game the
My Administration will be consulting further with the Senators on the details of their proposal, but a critical next
step will be to translate their framework into a legislative proposal, and for Congress to act at the earliest
possible opportunity.
I congratulate Senators Schumer and Graham for their leadership, and pledge to do everything in my power to
forge a bipartisan consensus this year on this important issue so we can continue to move forward on
comprehensive immigration reform.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Naturalized Citizen of the Day- Pierce Brosnan- Born in Ireland

FOIA BILL: $111,930

Agency Demands $111,930 For Database Description


Greetings -- The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) filed a
protest today with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The
protest objects to a demand that the university-based data research
organization pay the agency $111,930 for a description of the information in
one of its databases.

The protest, in the form of a letter to USCIS, reminds the head of the
agency's Freedom of Information/Privacy Office of the Obama Administration's
December 8, 2009 Open Government Government Directive declaring that
openness and transparency would be the touchstones of the government and
instructing the agencies to take concrete steps to improve public access to
government information.

The information TRAC requested describes one of the databases used by the
agency to track its processing of requests for naturalization that USCIS
receives. The FOIA request had been pending in the agency without a response
for nearly 4 years -- 1,316 days.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NEW FEATURE- the Naturalized US Citizen of the Day

Did you know that Dave Matthews was born in South Africa? Neither Did I....

Great new Documentary about the Necessity of the Dream Act

10 Days to Cure technical I-9 errors

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently confirmed that employers should be provided 10 days to cure technical or procedural paperwork violations following a government I-9 audit. This reassuring news comes courtesy of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which recently met with ICE HQ to discuss I-9 violations amidst the recent flurry of audits and some inconsistent practice at local ICE offices.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Immigration Rant of the Day

From a Lawyer practicing in California, Stuart Folinsky

Filing on-line I-765 -- clients live in "Santa Barbara CA 93103" Postal Service website shows the ZIP+4 as 93103-3439. The form allows for this information. However, payment is disallowed due to "state zip code mismatch." The 800 misinformation line gives me detailed information on how to duplicate the error. Supervisor says he doesn't know but had the courtesy to apologize.

Any idea as to when Santa Barbara seceded from California? What state is it part of now?

I just hate immigration.

More Trouble in Mexico

AILA liaison has been informed that the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez is closed today in mourning for those killed this past weekend.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Finally they change their name

ICE and CBP finally get around to amending regulations to reflect name change...from three years ago. FR Doc. 2010-5639 Filed 03/15/2010 at 8:45 am; Publication Date: 03/16/2010.

U Visa changes

Department of Labor Announces Certification of U-Visas

Washington, DC -- Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced today that the U.S. Dept. of Labor will begin certifying U nonimmigrant status visas (U visas) as early as this summer. The DOL's announcement marks a great step forward in the protection of vulnerable immigrant workers. NILC looks forward to working with DOL on drafting the implementing protocol to ensure that the most common criminal activities workers are subjected to qualify for certification.

Created by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (TVPA), U visas are an important means to combat workplace exploitation. The visa allows victims of certain crimes who have suffered physical or emotional abuse, and who are willing to cooperate with authorities, the ability to remain in the United States for up to four years and the possibility to apply for permanent residence. Recognizing that unscrupulous employers often target immigrant workers for retaliation or abuse, advocates nationwide have pushed for DOL's certification of U visas since the legislation's passage.

"DOL's announcement is extremely important, as there are an increasing number of egregious situations where employers commit state and federal crimes that fall under the agency's jurisdiction," said Tyler Moran, policy director for the National Immigration Law Center. "We now look to Congress to provide DOL with additional tools to enforce the law by supporting expansion of U visas to the many immigrant workers who experience egregious violations of civil labor and employment laws -- including wage theft."

Friday, March 12, 2010

CIR? Obama speaks

Today I met with Senators Schumer and Graham and was pleased to learn of their progress in forging a
proposal to fix our broken immigration system. I look forward to reviewing their promising framework, and every
American should applaud their efforts to reach across party lines and find commonsense answers to one of our
most vexing problems. I also heard from a diverse group of grassroots leaders from around the country about
the growing coalition that is working to build momentum for this critical issue. I am optimistic that their efforts will
contribute to a favorable climate for moving forward. I told both the Senators and the community leaders that my
commitment to comprehensive immigration reform is unwavering, and that I will continue to be their partner in
this important effort.

Immigration Court Backlog

Backlogged Immigration Matters Climb, Details by Court Location and

Pending cases backlogged in the nation's Immigration Courts
reached an all time high of 228,421 matters in the first months of FY 2010,
according to an analysis of very timely court data by the Transactional
Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The case backlog was up 23% since the
end of FY 2008 and 82% from ten years ago. The average length of time cases
had been pending increased to 439 days.

Key to the growing backlogs and wait times is the failure of both the Bush
and Obama administrations to fill the judge vacancies on the Immigration
Courts which numbered 48 as of January 12, 2010. The number of vacancies
means that one out of six of the judge positions -- 17% of the total -- are
now unfilled.

TRAC's latest report on the Immigration Courts can be viewed at this

Released with this special report is TRAC's Immigration Court Caseload Tool
that for the first time ever gives anyone a way to obtain case backlogs and
waiting times in each state, court, and hearing location. This information
is also available by nationality. For the Immigration Court Caseload Tool,
go to:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Bizarre Alice in Wonderland Scenario

By: Monica Mercer - Chattanooga Times Free Press, Mar. 9, 2010

A local federal judge calls it the most "bizarre, Alice-in-Wonderland"
scenario he ever has encountered in the world of government prosecutions.

The U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Tennessee is
prosecuting nine illegal immigrants for the routine crime of using fake
Social Security numbers to gain employment. Deportation is the routine

But those same immigrants hold rare "U" visas, which give them immunity from
being deported for at least four years, courtesy of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security. The immigrants were given "U" visas after an
investigation revealed their employer severely exploited their
illegal-worker status.

The nine workers from Mexico also are plaintiffs in an ongoing federal civil
lawsuit headed up by the Southern Poverty Law Center from Montgomery, Ala.
The cases alleges that Durrett Cheese Sales, Inc., in Winchester, Tenn.,
coerced the immigrants into working there, refused to pay them for most of
2007 and reported them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel
when they complained.

During the first sentencing hearing for one of the defendants last week,
U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice said the situation exemplifies
"two agencies acting precisely in cross purposes" and the "ambivalence" of
the U.S. Congress when it comes to immigration law.

"Given the facts of the case, I don't think it's possible for anyone to have
respect for this country's immigration laws," Judge Mattice said in choosing
not to jail Juana Montano-Perez, the first of nine illegal immigrants who
have admitted to Social Security fraud.

In arguing for jail time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble said Ms.
Montano-Perez received her "U" visa despite her more than 10 years of
immigration fraud that involved being deported once before and illegally
re-entering this country.

"(She is) attempting to pull on this court's heartstrings with her tale of
woe," Mr. Humble wrote in his sentencing memorandum to Judge Mattice. "Who
says crime doesn't pay?"

Congress enacted the strict humanitarian "U" visa program in 2000 with the
intent of helping illegal immigrants who are exploited in immigration fraud
schemes. Southern Poverty Law Center senior attorney Kristi Graunke said
Monday that it is not a "blanket amnesty" for all illegal immigrants and is
not meant to undermine the work of the Department of Justice.

"The goal of the ('U' visa) program (was) to ensure that law enforcement
could investigate crimes against non-citizens and that non-citizens could
cooperate with law enforcement without fear of retaliation," Ms. Graunke
stated in an e-mail. "Without the 'U' visa program ... non-citizens would be
afraid that if they came forward they would automatically be deported."

Ms. Graunke and attorney Monica Ramirez, who practice in Atlanta, are
representing the illegal immigrants in their lawsuit against Durrett Cheese.
Ms. Graunke declined to comment specifically on the issues before Judge
Mattice, stating only that it is "very concerning" to see illegal immigrants
prosecuted without similar accountability for employers who break federal
immigration laws.

Last summer, a Chattanooga federal jury convicted one former supervisor of
Durrett Cheese for Social Security fraud. Owner Greg Durrett, who, according
to the lawsuit, refused to pay his illegal workers and conspired to have
them arrested under false pretenses, never has been prosecuted.

"There's a tendency to go after the low-hanging fruit," Ms. Graunke said.

During a court hearing Monday, Judge Mattice said he remained "confused and
frustrated" by the issue. He refused to sentence any more defendants,
ordering that the cases be consolidated and that an investigation be
conducted into whether their due process rights may have been violated.

If any defense attorneys involved in the case can show such evidence, Judge
Mattice said, he will consider compelling the U.S. attorney's office to
reveal the documents "that served as the basis for these prosecutions."

Proof would have to be provided, he said, that local federal prosecutors
consulted with the civil rights division of the Department of Justice to
ensure they were "engaging in a reasonable and non-discriminatory
decision-making process" with regard to the illegal immigrants' equal
protections under the law.

"It's a matter of: Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?"
defense attorney Christian Lanier said after Monday's hearing. "And does
(the government) even care?"

It's H-1b season

USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2011
Beginning April 1, 2010
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will
begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2011 cap on April 1, 2010. Cases
will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS takes possession of a properly filed petition
with the correct fee; not the date that the petition is postmarked.
The fiscal year cap (numerical limitation on H-1B petitions) for FY 2011 is 65,000. Additionally, the
first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals who have earned a U.S. master’s degree
or higher are exempt from the H-1B cap.
USCIS will monitor the number of petitions received and will notify the public of the date on which
USCIS received the necessary number of petitions to meet the H-1B cap. If needed, USCIS will
randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit from the petitions
received on the final receipt date. USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions that are not selected, as
well as those received after the final receipt date.
Petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the beneficiaries will work
at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research
organizations or governmental research organizations. Petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries
who will work only in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands are exempt
from the cap until Dec. 31, 2014. Employers may continue to file petitions for these cap-exempt H-
1B categories seeking work dates starting in FY 2010 or 2011.
Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the
cap also do not count towards the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will
continue to process petitions filed to:
extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
allow current H-1B workers to change employers; or
allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
H-1B petitioners should follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions
to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. USCIS has developed detailed
information, including a processing worksheet, to assist in the completion and submission of a
FY2011 H-1B petition, which can be found on our website.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that
require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or
computer programmers.
For more information on the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program and current Form I-129 processing
times, visit or call the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Importance of Prenup

By Laura Petrecca, USA TODAY
Let's face it: The afterglow of that Valentine's Day proposal often begins to dim as discussions of wedding details get started.
The happy couples face potential buzz killers that are financial (how to keep reception costs down), logistical (where to seat relatives not on speaking terms) and, in recent years, even more controversial (So, honey, I love you, but how about that prenuptial agreement ...).

TELL US: Have you ever signed or been asked to sign a prenuptial agreement?

The prenup seems so utterly unromantic — or just plain wrong — but it's also become so right for so many these days: those keenly aware that a marriage may end up in a legal separation, divorce or death. Most prenups tackle financial issues such as real estate, division of bank accounts and potential spousal support in the case of divorce or separation.

GETTING IT RIGHT: Tips on how to make sure your prenup holds up

"More and more of these agreements are being drafted," says American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers President Marlene Eskind Moses. "It's not just something for the rich and famous any longer. It's for people that have assets and/or income that they want to protect."

Nearly one-third of single adults say they would ask a significant other to sign a prenup, according to a February survey of 2,323 adults by Harris Interactive.

Only 3% of folks with a spouse or fiancée have a prenuptial agreement, but that's up significantly from the 1% reported when Harris conducted a similar study in April 2002.

LeAnna Kruckeberg, 24, of Iowa City, says that she has already told her boyfriend of about one year that she would like him to sign a prenup if they get married.

"Family money stays in the family and should be passed down from generation to generation," she says. "Why should those businesses that my grandparents and my parents built on good old-fashioned hard work be given to someone who marries into a family?

"Any inheritance or trust funds should go to my kids and completely bypass my husband."

Her boyfriend knows the stories of her relatives' struggles as they built businesses, so "he understands and respects" her prenup thinking, she says.

For better or worse

Specific data about the often-complex contracts don't exist, mainly because prenups fall into the area between family law and estate planning, so there is no single trade group continually tracking trends, says Steve Hartnett, associate director of education for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

But a number of factors are fueling the prenup bump. At a broad level, they have gained more acceptance as a financial-planning tool.

Personal-finance expert Suze Orman encourages every engaged couple to get one to protect their current and future assets as well as to shield themselves in case a mate secretly runs up massive credit card debt (which could damage both partners' credit scores).

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the blockbuster tome Eat Pray Love, recently made the case in her new best seller, Committed, for why she and her husband got a prenup.

"Marriage is not just a private love story but also a social and economical contract of the strictest order," she says. "If it weren't, there wouldn't be thousands of municipal, state and federal laws pertaining to our matrimonial union."

More than one-third of adults — 36% — said prenups make smart financial sense, according to the Harris survey. When Harris asked that same question in 2002, 28% said so.

In a recession, people want to hang onto the assets they have, so they increasingly look to these pacts as an option, says Robert Nachshin, co-author of the prenup guide I Do, You Do ... But Just Sign Here.

Also, as marital trends change, so do attitudes. Many couples are tying the knot at an older age, so those folks — as well as those entering a second or third marriage — are bringing more assets into the relationship than, say, a 23-year-old would have.

And of course, prenups are an extremely popular topic on the Internet (particularly on wedding, news and celebrity sites). The gritty details of actor Dennis Hopper's and golf aces Tiger Woods' and Greg Norman's prenups have all been hot topics.

When love doesn't conquer all

The all-encompassing bliss that usually comes with a loving relationship often drowns out any thoughts that the marriage won't work.

"People are hopeful," Orman says. "They want their relationship to last. ... It's just natural that they don't think they'll need a prenup. Never in a million years do they think (divorce) will happen."

In 2008, the divorce rate was about 50%. Among married Americans, the median duration of their wedded life in 2008 was 18 years, according to Pew Research Center's analysis of government data.

Given those odds, "Hope is not a financial plan," says Orman, who urges that every couple get a prenup. "The time to plan for a divorce is not when you're in a state of hate," she says.

Among the divorced, 15% say they regret not having a prenup in their most recent marriage, according to the Harris poll. Men are more likely than women to have this regret, at 19% vs. 12%. Nearly 40% of divorced Americans also say they would ask their significant other to sign a prenuptial agreement if they remarried.

Divorce mediator Marietta Shipley offers more prenup wiggle room than Orman. She says they may not be for everyone but are "absolutely essential if people are getting married for the second time or have children or have wealthy parents."

Financial, legal and marriage experts do agree on one front: Before getting hitched, couples should sort through issues such as credit card debt, discrepancies in each person's wealth and the possibility of future inheritances. Shipley advises the marriage-bound to not only share lifelong dreams but to also review each other's credit reports.

Engaging in those talks also shows that a couple is capable of "financial intimacy," Orman says.

"If they're not open to doing that, we have a serious problem coming down the pike."

Sweetheart deals and bitter feelings

Gilbert says in Committed that drafting her and her husband's "exit strategy" was tense, uncomfortable and dreary work.

Madison, Wis.-based entrepreneur Penelope Trunk, engaged to a farmer, says she understands that each person in a relationship has assets to protect. In her case, it's the shares in her career management business. For her fiancé, it's valuable farmland.

But even with that understanding, they have had many fights and have broken up and reconciled, as they try to "muddle" through making their agreement.

They're still sorting it through, but she is hopeful that they'll get to a resolution. "In the end, I just want to marry him," she says.

Some prenups touch upon more sentimental topics, such as who keeps the heirloom silverware received as a wedding present.

Prenups can even outline what is expected of a spouse's behavior.

"I had a client who was willing to pay his wife a special amount each year provided she didn't do cocaine," says prenup guide author Nachshin. "The agreement was to pay her $25,000 a year. He had the right to drug test her, and if she was clean, she was able to get $25,000."

The wife stayed off the drugs, and over the last 10 years she received $250,000.

Some prenups address issues such as adultery, frequency of intimacy, limitations of weight gain, the scheduling of housekeeping and provisions for pets, says attorney Eskind Moses.

Those clauses may seem unnecessary to some folks, but nailing down what is important to each individual — be it the ownership of a ski house, retaining the rights to an antique tea set or determining who keeps Fido — is vital to do before the marriage laws kick in, say pro-prenup lawyers and financial advisers.

Trunk agrees that it's important to outline expectations when it comes to asset division, but she says these agreements are about emotional security as much as monetary security: You can't fully insulate yourself against marital heartbreak, but at least you can protect your assets.

"It's about everyone feeling secure in a relationship," she says. "You can't have a contract for your heart, but you can have a contract for the rest of this stuff."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Visa Fraud in a School?

Published: March 4, 2010

MIAMI — More than 80 people have been arrested in connection with a language school here that the government says was a front for the sale of fraudulent applications for student visas, immigration authorities said Thursday.

Two of those arrested, Lydia Menocal and Ofelia Macia, ran the school, the Florida Language Institute in Miami, the authorities said, and were masterminds behind the scheme, which helped residents of more than a dozen countries enter the United States fraudulently.

The visa recipients, officials of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said, rarely, if ever, attended classes at the school, which Ms. Menocal owns. Indeed, fewer than 5 percent of the students attended class, investigators found.

In announcing the arrests, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jeffrey Sloman, noted that several Sept. 11 hijackers “were foreign nationals who abused the student visa program to enter and stay in the United States illegally.”

According to the indictment, the language school first received approval from the Department of Homeland Security and then issued the requisite federal forms to the prospective students so they could apply for and receive student visas. Ms. Menocal swore on the forms that the students would attend classes.

In all, 81 students were arrested, but one was released

Thursday, March 4, 2010

EB-1 Victory in Federal Court

Circuit Court Rules USCIS Unlawfully Imposed Arbitrary Requirements
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Adopts Legal Action Center's Arguments

March 4, 2010

Washington D.C. - In a decision issued today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the arguments of the Legal Action Center (LAC), of the American Immigration Council, that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unlawfully imposed extra-regulatory requirements on a petition for a worker of "extraordinary ability" (EB-1). The case in question, Kazarian v. USCIS, involves a theoretical physicist whose employment-based visa was denied because he did not demonstrate "the research community's reactions to his [scholarly] publications" - an arbitrary requirement with no justification in the law.

In today's decision, the Ninth Circuit amended its previous ruling and reversed the agency's interpretation. The court held that "neither USCIS nor an [Administrative Appeals Office] may unilaterally impose novel substantive or evidentiary requirements beyond those set forth [in the regulations]." The Ninth Circuit also found that the agency impermissibly added another unlawful criteria as well.

The case stems from a 2009 Ninth Circuit Court ruling in favor of USCIS. Following that ruling, the LAC and NAFSA submitted an amicus brief in support of rehearing Kazarian's case. The LAC argued that USCIS erred by adding an additional requirement that did not exist under the law. Kazarian was represented pro bono in the rehearing petition by Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group.

Today's decision sends a clear message that USCIS must follow the law and provide a fair process. Unfortunately, this case is not an isolated incident and not the first time the LAC has successfully challenged the policies and practices of the agency. The LAC will continue to challenge similar attempts by the government to operate outside of the law.

"Immigration law is complicated enough without the immigration agency imposing additional requirements and burdens of proof that aren't in the statute or regulations and that ultimately undermine the goal of attracting the best and brightest to our shores," said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

FGM Victory

2nd Circuit Revives Woman's Bid for Asylum Despite Numerous Trips to Native Country
Mark Hamblett

New York Law Journal

March 04, 2010

A woman who suffered genital mutilation in Côte d'Ivoire may argue for asylum in the United States in spite of the fact she made return trips to her native country, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said an immigration judge erred in finding that the repeated trips Nan Marie Kone made to the west African nation undermined her credibility and showed she did not really fear further persecution.

Judges Guido Calabresi, Jose A. Cabranes and Gerard E. Lynch reversed an order of removal issued against Kone and remanded for further proceedings in Kone v. Holder, 08-1445-ag.

Kone applied for asylum in January 2005, just after giving birth to her second daughter. She based her application on her own experience with genital mutilation in 1981 and her fear that her daughters, both U.S. citizens, would be subjected to the practice. She also cited alleged persecution based on her Muslim religion, her Dioula ethnicity and her membership in a Dioula-based opposition group, Rally of the Republicans (RDR).

Kone first came to the United States in July 2002, but in November she was back in the Côte d'Ivoire, where she was arrested for carrying an RDR membership card. She was thrown in jail for 10 days and claimed to have been beaten by guards on a daily basis.

Kone returned to the United States in September 2003 but made three more trips to her homeland before finally coming back to the United States for good and applying for asylum.

Immigration Judge Sandy K. Hom found that Kone's account of her genital mutilation was credible and that it had created a presumption she would be persecuted in the future.

But he denied the application, saying Kone's "voluntary actions to go back to the Ivory Coast…rebuts the presumption of future persecution that arises from her past persecution."

Judge Hom rejected her other claims of persecution and said Kone's credibility was also undercut by the fact that she worked for the government when she returned to the Côte d'Ivoire -- a finding that later proved to be incorrect.

On the appeal, Judge Lynch said, "This cursory analysis neglects to make the specific finding required by the regulations of either a fundamental change in circumstances or the possibility of internal relocation" -- factors that the government can argue to rebut the presumption of future persecution.

Judge Lynch said the immigration court demonstrated "the erroneous belief that voluntary return trips are sufficient, as a matter of law, to rebut the presumption of future persecution to which Kone is entitled."

"The simple fact of a safe return on a particular occasion does not negate the potential of future harm," he said. "Nothing in the regulations requires an applicant to show that she would be immediately persecuted upon return, that persecution would be likely to occur within some short time span, or that it would recur in regular intervals."

The judge noted that return trips might be evidence that circumstances have changed for some asylum seekers and their native countries are now safe but that they do not shift the burden to the petitioner.

The court also faulted Judge Hom for making an adverse credibility finding against Kone, again based on the return trips she had made.

"Under various circumstances, a person very well might risk persecution to return to his or her home country, despite previous persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution," Judge Lynch said.

He said Judge Hom also committed "clear error" in finding that Ms. Kone worked for the government upon her return to Côte d'Ivoire, when, in fact, she worked for a private company.

Brian I. Kaplan of Goldberg & Kaplan represented Kone.

The government was represented by Andrew B. Insenga, trial attorney with the Justice Department's Office of Immigration Litigation.

US Immigration Deportation System Flawed... Really?

From the website An article by William Fisher

The number of people deported from the US annually has grown from just over 69,000 to over 356,000 in the past eight years, while resource-starved immigration judges issue decisions without sufficient time to conduct legal research and analyze the complex cases they are asked to decide.
This is among the key findings of a new comprehensive review of the current deportation process by the American Bar Association's (ABA) Commission on Immigration and one of America's leading law firms.
The study concludes that the removal (deportation) system "is severely flawed and fails to afford fair process to all non-citizens facing deportation from the United States."
It said, "There is strong evidence that (legal) representation affects the outcome of immigration proceedings." But in 2008, it continued, 57 percent of people in removal proceedings were not represented. Of those in detention, 84 percent were forced to proceed without lawyers.
"Not only are many people unable to afford counsel, but remote detention facilities, short visiting hours, restrictive phone access, and transfers all have a devastating effect on a non-citizen's ability to retain counsel and maintain an attorney-client relationship."
Among other findings: The "tremendous increase" in deportations "has not been met with commensurate resources."
Immigration judges completed on average 1,243 cases per year. In comparison, veterans' law judges decide about 729 cases annually, of which only 178 involve hearings, and Social Security Administration administrative law judges decide about 544 cases each year.
"Given the overwhelming case load and the lack of adequate support staff, immigration judges primarily issue oral decisions, meaning that decisions are made without sufficient time to conduct legal research and analyze complex legal and factual issues," the study found.
The study, carried out with the law firm of Arnold and Porter, found "stark disparities" between the rates of asylum grants among immigration judges and, as a result, "a non-citizen's success in immigration court may depend to a troublesome extent upon which judge is assigned his or her case."
Most Board of Immigration Appeals cases are decided by a single member, as opposed to the past practice of using three-member panels to decide cases. This change has resulted in fewer decisions favoring asylum seekers.
Most decisions are "short opinions" that fail to provide a sufficient explanation for the decision. The rate at which noncitizens are appealing Board decisions to the federal courts has increased from 9.4 percent in 2002 to 26.7 percent in 2008. In 2008, noncitizens filed more than 10,000 federal court appeals of Board decisions.
The absence of counsel, the overwhelming dockets, the lack of adequately explained and reasoned decisions and the disparities among judges' decisions are just a few of serious problems plaguing the removal system, the study declared.
Karen T. Grisez, chair of the ABA Commission on Immigration, told Truthout, "This is the most comprehensive study that has ever been done of the immigration removal adjudication system, beginning with the decision of who should be put into removal proceedings and running through the appeals process."
She said its recommendations "include steps that could be undertaken immediately to improve the operation of the system, others that would require changes in the law to enhance the fairness of the process, and finally urges a redesign of the entire system that would make the immigration judges independent of the Department of Justice."
The ABA's House of Delegates voted last Monday to adopt several policies based on the recommendations in the new study. They include an increase in the number of immigration judges and board members, greater resources to support them and an expectation of more detailed, written decisions. The House also voted in favor of the recommendation for an Article I court or an agency independent of the Department of Justice to decide on immigration matters.
Beth Werlin, litigation clearinghouse attorney at the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center, said, "These problems not only diminish the public's confidence in the system, but even worse, they compromise the statutory and constitutional guarantee of fair process for each person facing removal."
The ABA's findings are supported by a study conducted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. That study concluded that the announced goal of a broad Justice Department project to improve the performance of the immigration courts - started during the Bush administration, but now a continuing challenge for President Obama - "has failed to achieve many of its ambitious purposes."
This mixed verdict is based on the actual improvements so far realized in the operations of the immigration court system after a three-year Justice Department effort.
The TRAC study found that the annual number of deportation cases brought in the nation's federal courts more than quadrupled during the eight years of the Bush administration. It reported that the September 2008 total of 11,454 immigration prosecutions represented an increase of over 700 percent from the same month seven years earlier, September 2001.
The study reported that in fiscal year 2008, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers apprehended at least 791,568 deportable noncitizens, initiated 291,217 removal proceedings in the immigration courts against noncitizens, detained 378,582 noncitizens and effected the deportation of 358,886 noncitizens.
The study said, "Immigration lawyers, civil rights advocates and some members of Congress have for many years been concerned about the operation of the Immigration Courts that are now a part of the Justice Department.
But, beginning in 2002, a change in EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review) court procedures ordered by then Attorney General John Ashcroft resulted in a stream of unfavorable decisions by appellate level judges in different parts of the country.
It noted that Ashcroft's successor, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then ordered the Justice Department to undertake a special study of the EOIR. Following that study, Gonzales issued a directive In August 2006 listing 22 specific measures for change and improvement.
But he was trying to change a system of immigration judge's appointments that was often based on deeply entrenched party political loyalties and personal friendships. The politicization of the immigration bar and the unexplained firing of a number of US attorneys were major factors in bringing about Gonzales's resignation under fire in August 2007.
The TRAC study said the EOIR "has fallen far short of hiring the additional judges that the Justice Department had initially said were required; continues to hire judges without immigration law experience while available evidence indicates that comprehensive training in this complex legal area is not provided; has failed to provide evidence that it has established a system for seriously testing the immigration law knowledge of judges; has still not developed a judicial code of conduct or established a standardized system for handling complaints regarding the professional conduct of existing immigration judges; and has not worked out procedures to provide the judges the sanction

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

H-1b filing tips from AILA

Getting the LCA In Hand Before April 1 (Updated 03/03/10)

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07030978 (posted Mar. 3, 2010)"

Because you cannot submit an LCA earlier than six months prior to the beginning date of the period of intended employment (20 CFR § 655.730(b)), if you want your LCA in hand before April 1, then set your employment start date on the LCA for a date in September, and set the expiration date for a date no more than three years hence. File the I-129 with a start date of October 1, but with an expiration date that coincides with the expiration date of the LCA. You will lose a couple of days on the back end of the petition by doing this, but you will get the LCA filed and back before April 1.


LCA start date: 9/1/10

LCA end date: 8/31/13

Form I-129 start date: 10/1/10

Form I-129 end date: 8/31/13

Due to delays in receiving approved LCAs, take the proper precautions and file your LCA early to avoid any undue delays, which could prove to be detrimental to your client.

Although under certain circumstances USCIS has agreed to accept H-1B petitions for processing that include LCAs that have not been certified, attorneys should understand that if the LCA submitted with the H-1B petition is eventually denied, the H-1B will be denied, even if a subsequent certified LCA is submitted. This is even true where the denial is due to DOL error in not being able to verify a petitioner's FEIN. However, USCIS has also indicated that if the sole reason for failing to apply for an Extension of Status or Change of Status is due to DOL delay in the certification process, USCIS may look at the totality of the circumstances in determining whether to accept the late filing.

Please note that the “fix” offered by USCIS for the LCA issue is set to expire on March 9, 2010. AILA Liaison has not been informed as to any possible extension of this deadline. Keep watching AILA InfoNet for the most up to date information on this issue. (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09120968)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CIR? I DOubt it

From the New York Times

President Obama gave immigration reform only one vague sentence in his State of the Union address. Despite that, and the poisonous stalemate on Capitol Hill, the White House and Democratic Congressional leaders insist that they are still committed to presenting a comprehensive reform bill this year — one that would clamp down on the border and workplace, streamline legal immigration and bring 12 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows.

The country needs to confront the issue, to lift the fear that pervades immigrant communities, to better harness the energy of immigrant workers, to protect American workers from off-the-books competition. What’s been happening as the endless wait for reform drags on has been ugly.

The administration has doubled down on the Bush-era enforcement strategy, unleashing the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies and setting loose an epidemic of misery, racial profiling and needless arrests. The intense campaign of raids and deportations has so clogged the immigration courts that the American Bar Association has proposed creating an independent court system that presumably would be better able to command adequate resources.

Tensions and anger in immigrant communities are rising. Religious and business groups are urging change — for moral reasons and because they believe that bringing immigrants out from the shadows would help the economy. Young students who have patiently waited for the Dream Act — a bill to legalize immigrant children who bear no blame for their status — are frustrated. Groups across the country are planning to march on Washington this month, demanding action on reform.

At least one advocacy group, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, has declared the dream of comprehensive reform dead. It is urging incremental change, with modest reforms like the Dream Act. Other groups may follow. It is too soon to give up.

Representative Luis Gutierrez has submitted legislation in the House that contains the right elements of comprehensive reform. Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham are working on a Senate version. Let’s hope Congress and Mr. Obama are paying attention and will find the spine to fashion a fair, comprehensive bill and then fight for it.

Mr. Obama should remember the promise he made often during the campaign but left out of his State of the Union: that the undocumented deserve a chance to make Americans of themselves.