DONALD TRUMP AND HIS “LOOK THE OTHER WAY” ATTITUDE

Donald Trump has supporters convinced he is focused on one thing, “Making America Great Again.” All of his actions are supposedly intended to help the average American, whether it’s securing borders or incentivizing businesses to stay in the country through tax breaks and Twitter praise.

Take for example these from earlier this week

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And we go all the way back to December:

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(PS: Notice how many Twitter accounts that like his status are default eggs as if the accounts who support him are Twitter-bots, but I’ll leave the conspiracy theories to our Commander-in-chief.)

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Crack And Patches: A Contractor’s Guide To Understanding Trump’s Immigration Plans

Disclaimer: As I write this post, we are less than 48 hours post Trump’s latest Twit-Storm about an imaginary wiretap of Trump Towers.  We are also four hours from the unveiling of his latest project – the New and Improved Travel Ban.

As a General Practice Law firm who often represents contractors, Trump’s Immigration policy is becoming eerily like a construction defect case. His policy of enforcement is structurally defective because he is trying to pour concrete while at the same time he is in the process of demolition.  So while Trump does his splashy round-ups of undocumented aliens for deportation, he has no policy to stop the spring flow of immigrants coming across to work in agriculture, construction or hospitality.  The patch is to deport people; the fix would be to streamline the processing of legal, short term employment visa’s that would assist domestic business and expand the economy. It would also encourage return migration with the promise of reasonable entry for the following season. This would mean immigrants wouldn’t be crossing the border or feeling trapped in the country after the seasonal work ends.  A positive byproduct an effective short-term visa program, would be economic support for countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.  It would be a win-win in economic sectors that do not pay the cost of living for American workers and who must keep inflation down for middle-America.  Another patch to a broken immigration structure, is to terminate premium processing of H-1B visas, which will create administrative chaos for applicants and employers who are moving from a University research departments to private facilities.  The crack is that the wait time for permanent resident applications have become almost current.  A current visa processing system is good, but in Trump World it would be viewed as a crack in the wall.  The practical effect means that it may be easier to make a permanent foreign hire than short term one.

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A Fake Immigration Crisis With Fake Solutions

Of the many new concepts President Trump has introduced to the Zeitgeist, the latest is “Fake News.” That is, news and facts that contradict his fake agenda. The fake Immigration crisis that he has sold to the American people, like a degree from Trump University; is that murderers and terrorists are pouring across an unprotected southern border. Build a wall, problem solved. Completely false and completely fake. Factcheck.org (a critical resource to keep a grip on reality in Trump’s fake universe) reported that “The 9/11 attacks accounted for 98.6 percent of all people killed in terrorist attacks during the 40 years [1976-2016], the report says.”  That means, that other than 9/11, only 41 people have been killed domestically by terrorists since 1976. That is not in any way to diminish the values of those 41 lives, but it is directly relevant to determining the value of Trump’s Immigration policy on mitigating the risk of demostic terrorism. And as for Trump’s repeated claim that “Thousands of Americans have been killed by illegal immigrants,” there is zero data to support the statement. Politifact reports that there is no national database or study tracking how many people have been killed by undocumented aliens. Thus, he is asserting fake facts that don’t currently exist. Last year, ICE removed 138,669 immigrants with prior criminal convictions.  Recall, that an undocumented alien with a single offense of DUI or breach of peace, was a priority for removal. ICE reported that in 2016, it achieved a 92% rate of removing aliens with any kind of criminal record other than a “civil traffic offense.” That would seem like a pretty good use of public money to remove the “Bad Hombres.”

So if over the past 40 years we have had a relatively negligible amount of domestic terrorism (9/11 the big exception), and ICE has a 92% rate on removing undocumented aliens with any kind of criminal record – where’s the crisis? The crisis is likely to come from the fake solutions.

Fake Solution No. 1: Build a Border Wall Continue reading

The Case for Bad Hombres

The current argument of the new administration is that we need to get out “bad hombres.”    And there is little argument that gang members and people with very serious crimes need to be removed.  However, in my practice, I don’t see many “bad hombres” being removed.  The clients I commonly represent have relatively minor convictions, like a first offense DUI, or shoplifting, or drug possession. And even the ones with more slightly more serious charges, the circumstances usually lesson and explain the crime.  Most immigrants don’t get a chance to commit more than one crime, because on the first conviction they are legally deportable and generally end up in Immigration Court.

For instance, Sandra (real client, but not her real name) is a beloved home health aide, working for the same handicapped women for nearly 10 years.  She is married and has two children with her husband, Roy (also not his real name). With great effort, their oldest son recently graduated from high school.  Sandra is beautiful and bashful.  She is hesitant to talk about her tough childhood and rebellious teenage years (Roy is happy to fill in the details).

What Sandra will not mention is that she was once ordered deported as a “criminal alien.”

Sandra came to the United States from Haiti as a Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card” holder) at the age of ten.  She endured a troubled relationship between her mother and step-father and eventually moved out at the age of 18 to live with a cousin.  She admittedly partied a lot.  She hung out with her cousin’s friends, who were not a good influence. Before she was 19 years old, Sandra had a theft charge after she was caught with a stolen Bose Stereo System that she had been given by a boy she was dating. By luck, she did not encounter ICE on the courthouse steps after she pleaded guilty and was given probation.

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Are Employers The Next Act in Trump’s Immigration Circus?

The consummate bejeweled showman, Trump appears to have discovered Immigration as the perfect act for his three-ring circus of a presidency. He loves the big cheering crowds and holding the microphone as he announces the next big act.  The first act: ban refugees and Muslims. Clowns on tricycles chasing dwarf ponies.  The next act: demonize all immigrants, build walls, and immigration raids.  Send in the guy on stilts to try and put multicolored chickens back in their candy colored coop.  Should we expect that the next act will be to penalize US employers who require international talent to compete in a global market place?  Will this act be the man in the big suit being blindfolded as the clowns squirt him with water pistols and cause him to stumble around the ring with his foot stuck in a metal bucket?

A lifetime ago, at the end of January this year, USA Today ran an article titled Trump targets tech’s H-1B visa hiring tool.  The article was reporting on the contents of a draft Executive Order dated January 23, 2017.  It was never signed, but the unsigned order describes an executive policy of either making employment based visas subject to tighter regulations, or strictly limiting their use. For any employer or beneficiary who has been involved in the annual H-1B filing process; it is already a three-month long Cirque Du Soleil Act that culminates with a trapeze toss into a Federal Express box on March 31st. That’s because the application must be received on April 1st – not March 31st and not April 2nd – but April 1st.  A date that is also commonly known as “April Fools.” Yes, the day of office jokes and pranks.  Given the already circus act nature of the H-1B process, Trump doesn’t need to make it more absurd.

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The Latest Fear Rumor, An Invisible Gestapo: National Guard Troops to Round Up Undocumented Aliens

The Trump Nationalists are from the same gang of European Nationalists who now seek a return to the glory days of the 1930s.  The playbook is the same: target refugees and immigrants – the non-whites.  Identify them as the cause of economic decline, or crime, or even personal failings.  Shift the responsibility for every problem a person may encounter in a complex and modern world to a non-voting poor person who is merely trying to survive and build his or her way into society.

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Immigration In The Time of Trump

Like love in the time of cholera, Immigration in the Time of Trump is likely to be marked by confusion, fear, and uncertainty. For those who believe America should have hermetically sealed borders and zero immigration; confusion, fear, and uncertainty is a diabolical policy that will surely discourage individuals from entering the United States. It will, however, do nothing to provide security, improve the economy, or heal divisions in our country.

The real issue, is what to do now if you must contend with Immigration for your personal life or investment in the United States?

First, check the date of this blog post because as of February 18, 2017, nothing has changed.  Trump has not yet (but probably this week) will be issuing a revised Executive Order on the travel ban that is expected to achieve the same goal with more constitutionally acceptable language. We will have to wait and see the practical effect of the new order. Moreover, there has yet to be any paradigm changing policy directives or memoranda to USCIS on general visa processing. However, reading between the lines and checking the Tarot Cards, there is likely to be significant changes soon.  Rather than speculating or prophesying we will wait to see how things progress. And a quick disclaimer, any references in this post to racial policies is not intended as punditry or political opinion, it’s the bizarre reality in which we find ourselves practicing immigration law.

Traveling on Existing Visas

As everyone now knows, President Trump’s first attempt at policy making on Immigration failed miserably and resulted in lawsuits and chaos at the airports.  This seems to have quieted down.  However, there are still isolated news reports of individual’s being intimidated by Border Patrol Agents and Customs Officials.  For now, it appears that the clear majority of travelers are being stamped through and sent to baggage claim without being horribly offended. Thus, individuals traveling on valid visas (including Green Card holders) from the seven “banned countries” are being admitted in the ordinary course. However, if you have had problems with Immigration in the past or have even a minor criminal charge – it’s beyond the scope of this post to be more specific -  then it’s not a good idea to test your visa status with a guy who probably wore a cheap red hat to vote on November 8th last year. Similarly, if you are visibly Muslim, you may want to temporarily refrain from travel until the Trump Administration has updated its insult to Muslims by revising its travel ban.

Pending Applications

If you have filed for Immigration status or a made a visa application, anticipate delays.  But you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you receive a relatively timely approval.  Some of this is the residual effect of the Obama Administration, which emphasized competency and efficiency in the application process.  Until those policies and operating procedures have been changed by the Trump Administration, pending applications are likely to remain on course.  Citizenship applications, however, may be the exception. The current rumor – yes rumor – is that the Trump Administration wants to slow down the process for citizenship and make it more difficult.  To emphasize, this is currently pure rumor – with a circumstantial sense of validity.

Family Immigration

If you are applying for a family based green card, and you are a religion other than Muslim, the expectation is that your processing will be unaffected for now.  If you are Muslim, your application may be subject to an adjudications officer that is not clear – or has a personal view – of the new policy towards the admission of Muslims.  The new Executive Order may clear things up or make them worse.  We can only hope that the “well-oiled” machine of the Trump administration will give clear guidance to its adjudications officers. One of the very real consequences of the now suspended travel ban, is that it has sent mixed messages as to the Administration’s policy toward the admission of Muslims into the United States.  To a faithful public servant, this can be confusing and therefore delay a decision.  If you are applying for family based immigration, you should be certain that your applications are well prepared, well supported (meaning professional translations of all foreign documents) and that you have ample support for the validity of your marriage. If you have any prior immigration history, failed applications, false statements, or a criminal history, you should hire an experienced Immigration Attorney.  Given the strange times we are living in with the Trump Administration, you would do well to invest in competent counsel for any immigration process. But be a smart consumer, interview your attorney, and have a general background of your own situation so that you can determine the level of the prospective attorney’s understanding of your situation.

Employment Based Immigration

As yet, employment based immigration has not changed. However, employers should take care in the application process similar to family based applications.  Both employer and applicants should be sure that all forms are accurate and well supported.  The real pending issue for employers is likely to come on the enforcement side. It is expected, based upon the rhetoric and the people making immigration policy for Trump, that work place investigations are going to increase.  This means employers should be sure that their I-9 files are up to date.  In addition, audit files for all other work based applications such as the L1 and H1B audit files should be reviewed for accuracy and completeness.  Even for private sector employers, incentives for E-verify use is likely to be broadened.  We anticipate that within four years, E-Verify will be mandatory for all employers.

Employers and investors should not yet fall to full scale panic on Immigration. Despite the Trump administration’s endeavor to seal the borders of the United States from immigration, the business and investment community remains politically strong and well-financed.  And while the Trump administration may no longer want the world’s tired, poor huddled masses who yearn to be free, it does still want money. Thus, businesses should prepare for delays and frustrations, but we anticipate that it will remain possible to bring workers into the United States.

The Time of Trump will Pass

Immigration in the Time of Trump will be challenging, but we should not give in or give up.  The likely hope of the Trump Administration is that by creating fear, confusion, and uncertainty, they will be able to discourage and prevent immigration.  Trump’s obvious immigration policy is to frustrate the world to the point that it gives up on the United States, that immigrants go elsewhere, and we are left to a quiet decline of our nation.  Resist by pressing your immigration applications and petitions, litigating when necessary, but never giving up. Like time in general, the Time of Trump will pass. Thus, if we persevere in the present, we will succeed in the future.

A Review of Privatized Detention – Where Will It Lead?

A few days ago Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the Department of Homeland Security will undertake a review of its use of private detentions.  A brief “hurray” is the initial thought, but the impact is still to be seen.  The Secretary’s statement (read here:  Sec. J. Johnson’s Press Release) follows the Department of Justice’s similar remarks in early August.  Although Secretary Johnson’s statements are vague, it must be agreed that this is the right direction for all those detained while in removal proceedings.  Much of this debate has been spurred by the American Immigration Council’s excellent work in obtaining the release of photographs of deplorable prison conditions for immigrants in Texas (see photos here:  AIC Detention posts).  Let’s hope that all this hard work will result a big change in immigration detention policy soon!

 

Elyssa Williams, Esq.

Help Refugees Resettle in Connecticut

As Connecticut takes on the commendable effort of resettling refugees, there is a great need for suitable housing in the Greater Hartford area.  Multi-bedroom apartment are sought for large families.  It is also helpful if the apartments are situated near public transportation routes. These will be paid rentals with a lease period of one year with the option to renew.  If you know of an apartment that meets the criteria, please contact Elyssa Williams, [email protected], for more information.

Faces of Immigration: Part II

by Attorney Elyssa Williams and Joan Lownds

American immigrants have made incalculable contributions to our society and culture. Here are a few more snapshots of just some of our extraordinary immigrants, and the ways they have strengthened the fabric of our country.

Elie Wiesel

Born in Romania in 1928, Wiesel was imprisoned by the Nazis in the Auschwitz death camp in 1944, where his mother, father and sister were killed, according to his biography at Wikipedia. After subsequently living in a French orphanage, he moved to New York as a writer for an Israeli newspaper. Wiesel went on to become the author of more than 30 books, many of them dealing with the Holocaust, including his classic, “Night.” He became an American citizen in 1963.

Wiesel established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, whose mission is to advance the cause of human rights and peace throughout the world by creating “a forum for the discussion of urgent ethical and moral issues,” according to its website. The Foundation sponsors international conferences of Nobel laureates at various locations throughout the world. Among his many other initiatives, Wiesel served as chairman for the Presidential Commission on the Holocaust from 1978 to 1986, and helped lead the effort that led to the building of the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for speaking out against violence, repression and racism. Wiesel’s other accolades include the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, along with honorary degrees from more than ninety American and European universities.

Dikembe Mutombo

Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1966, Mutombo arrived to the U.S. on an academic scholarship to attend Georgetown University, where he interned for the U.S. Congress and the World Bank, according to his biography at Wikipedia. He also played college basketball, and his exceptional ability was soon apparent. Mutombo entered the pros and became one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times. He was also an eight-time All-Star.

Mutombo is equally well known for his humanitarian work. In 1997, he launched the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve health and education in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the initiatives was to open a $29 million, 300-bed hospital on the outskirts of his hometown, the Congolese capital of Kinshasa —to which he personally donated $3.5 million. Later, his foundation began a project, in coordination with his alma mater, Georgetown University — to offer medical care for visually impaired children from low-income families in the Washington, D.C. area. Mutombo is also a spokesman for the international relief agency, CARE; a longtime supporter of Special Olympics; and is currently a member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, as well as a Global Ambassador, among many other charitable works. Mutombo became a U.S. citizen in 2006.

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the State University of New York College at Cortland for his humanitarian work, and was elected as one of 20 winners of the President’s Service Awards, the nation’s highest honor for volunteer service, in 1999.

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin in the Russian village of Tyumen in 1888, according to his biography at Wikipedia. When he was a child, his family fled the persecution of the Jewish community in the region, and settled in New York.

As a teenager, he worked as a singing waiter in the Lower East Side before publishing his first song in 1911. By the time he died in his sleep at the age of 101 on September 22, 1989, the Russian immigrant had written an estimated 1,500 more tunes. These include such standards as “White Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” Always,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Blue Skies,” “Easter Parade,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” He also scored dozens of musicals and films, and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, with seven nods in the song category, winning in 1943 for “White Christmas.”

George Gershwin described Berlin’s songs as “exquisite cameos of perfection, and each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor. Irving Berlin remains, I think, America’s Schubert. But apart from his genuine talent for song-writing, Irving Berlin has had a greater influence upon American music than any other man.”

Joseph Pulitzer

Pulitzer was born in Hungary, and came to Boston in 1864 at the age of 17, according to his biography at Wikipedia. His passage was paid by Union military recruiters seeking soldiers for the Civil War. He served in the Lincoln Cavalry for eight months. In 1867, Pulitzer became an American citizen.

Later, Pulitzer’s aptitude for newspaper reporting landed him a job with “The Westliche Post,” a German language newspaper. The young reporter also had a strong sense of business acumen, and within a few years, he obtained a controlling interest the paper.

By the age of 25, he was publisher. Not long after, he became owner of both “The St. Louis Post-Dispatch” and “The New York World.” Pulitzer raised the bar for journalistic excellence, exposing corruption and crusading for issues such as the keeping the Statute of Liberty in New York. “The New York World” became the best-selling paper in the country under his watch. A fierce advocate of freedom of the press, he once said, “Our republic and our press will rise and fall together.”

Pulitzer founded the Columbia School of Journalism, which opened in 1912, by a philanthropic fund. The Pulitzer Prizes were established in 1917 by a grant he bestowed to Columbia University to recognize artistic and journalistic achievements. The prizes are given annually to honor achievements in journalism and photography, as well as literature and history, poetry, music and drama, and stand as a permanent testaments to Pulitzer’s legacy.

The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.