Archive for the “Visas” Category

Washington Post

It never made sense to Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger: Immigrants who have green cards can join the U.S. military and fight America’s wars but, like other noncitizens, are ineligible to work as police officers in Maryland and most other states.

Since 2004, Manger has championed the concept of lifting the citizenship requirement under certain circumstances. At his urging, the Maryland Police Training Commission, which oversees training and hiring standards for law enforcement agencies across the state, began studying the issue this year. A vote could come next month.

“They can fight in Iraq, and yet they’re not able to serve as police officers in the communities they were risking their lives for,” Manger said.

The subject is fraught with political risk, particularly for elected officials, because illegal immigration has become a more divisive issue in recent years. Also, those opposed to employing noncitizens as police officers point to the difficulty of conducting thorough background checks on noncitizens, and some say they fear that the move could even allow terrorists to infiltrate police departments.

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LA Times

When 24-year-old Yuliya Kalinina turned to the Internet in search of a husband, she made it absolutely clear what she was looking for in a relationship:

“Green Card Marriage — Will pay $300/month. Total $15,000,” the Russian national living in Los Angeles wrote in an ad placed on the Craigslist website. “This is strictly platonic business offer, sex not involved.”

Just in case any would-be Romeos weren’t taking the hint, she added, “NOT required to live together.”

Kalinina’s direct approach was very attractive, drawing the attention not only of the man who would marry her, but also of agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

After nearly two years of what federal prosecutors allege was a sham marriage, Kalinina and her 30-year-old husband, Benjamin C. Adams, were arrested last week at separate residences.

Prosecutors say Kalinina leased Adams a new Ford Mustang for his trouble.

She also took care of the wedding arrangements: Performing the ceremony was Dmitri Chavkerov, an Internet-ordained minister who also happened to be Kalinina’s live-in boyfriend.

“I’d say it’s a fairly blatant example of marriage fraud,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. Curtis A. Kin, one of the prosecutors on the case.

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SF Gate

SAN FRANCISCO — One year after the Bush administration promised to streamline a process to allow people with HIV infection to visit the United States despite a congressionally mandated travel ban, critics are saying that the proposed new rules are more restrictive than the old ones.

Laws dating back to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the United States forbid issuance of visas to foreigners infected with HIV, but allow exceptions through a cumbersome waiver process that has been denounced as slow, arbitrary and unfair. In December 2006, President Bush asked for new administrative rules to speed up the granting of such waivers.

Opportunities for the public to comment on the regulations, which took 11 months to craft, expire Thursday, and opponents are using the deadline to criticize the suggested changes as well as the entire notion that people infected with the AIDS virus need special visas to visit the country.

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Washington — With little time left in the Congressional calendar, high tech companies are scrambling to get an increase in H-1B visas this year, but the prospects are fading.

‘Time is short and it is a bit of a long shot, but the urgency of our situation necessitates us continuing to walk the halls of Congress, ‘ said Robert Hoffman, a vice president for government and public affairs at Oracle and co-chair of Compete America, a coalition of high-tech companies that includes Microsoft Corp. and Google, Inc. ‘As long as they continue to talk to us, we have reason to be hopeful.’

Hoffman said he is in discussions with House leaders and other key lawmakers, hoping to attach an H-1B amendment to a larger measure. But the task is difficult because Congress is facing a heavy agenda in the final weeks of the year, including 11 ‘must-pass’ spending bills to fund various government agencies.

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They are trying to increase the number of citizenship approvals by decreasing pay but offering a cash bonus if they rubber stamp more applicants than in the past.

I’m surprised they haven’t outsourced the document processing center to Mexico yet.

NY Times

Workers who help process millions of visa and citizenship applications for a federal immigration agency are getting pay reductions just as the agency is facing an enormous surge in those applications.

The workers whose wage rate will be cut are contract employees in document processing centers in St. Albans, Vt., and Laguna Niguel, Calif., that are part of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for deciding visa applications and citizenship petitions. Some 280 of approximately 1,000 contract workers in the two centers will receive lower wages after a new contractor, Stanley Inc. of Arlington, Va., takes over tomorrow.

Dozens of workers have protested the pay cuts to Vermont and California lawmakers. During the past two weeks workers picketed in front of the federal office building in Laguna Niguel.

?If you?re trying to get people motivated to deal with a huge backlog, the last thing you would do is slash pay,? said Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, who received many calls. ?It just creates more turnover, more discontent and more demoralization.?

Officials at the immigration agency said last week that they received 2.5 million applications for visas and for naturalization in July and August, more than double the applications in the same period last year. Many immigrants rushed to file applications before large fee increases took effect July 30, officials said.

Mr. Wolking said the company would offer bonuses of up to $400 monthly to half of the workers whose wages will decrease, based on their job productivity.

The plan brought little comfort to employees whose weekly income will drop tomorrow by 12 to 20 percent.

?Everybody will be fighting over the ability for half of us to make our rent checks,? said Jeremy Murray, one of those employees, in a telephone interview. He said he had worked at the Vermont center for more than six years sorting incoming applications, making $14.54 an hour. Starting Monday, he said, he will make $12.84 an hour and will no longer be able to work overtime. He will lose as much as $400 a month.

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Legal Immigrants Dreams Of Voting Hit Bureaucratic Snags

OK, I welcome all legal immigrants who have gone through the proper channels, done it the right way and want to become American citizens. I say congratulations.

My concern is why do they wait years and years to do it? Why is the only reason they want to become citizens is so they can vote? Isn’t there something to be said about wanting to become an American because you are proud of this country and want to be a part of it. Or is it all about politics and power? I’d like to ask them why they waited so long? GuardDog

Immigrant voters’ dreams snagged by red tape
November 17, 2007

Story Highlights
* Immigrants file for naturalization in hopes of voting but find frustration
* Manny Barajas says he wants to “make my vote count”
* Felipe Lopez started paper trail to citizenship almost two years ago
* Government says backlog of applications caused by lack of resources

imageManny Barajas was eagerly awaiting his first taste of American democracy. Instead, he is learning a frustrating lesson in government bureaucracy.

Barajas is one example of the excitement caused by Nevada’s decision to grab an early spot on the presidential nominating calendar — one of thousands of immigrants in the United States legally who have rushed to file for naturalization and voting rights.

Those hopes are evident in a trailer-turned-classroom on the city’s outskirts, where a nonprofit organization called the Citizenship Project teaches the nuts and bolts of American history. Christopher Columbus was the topic when CNN dropped by for a visit this week.

Across town at his union’s headquarters, a frustrated Barajas spoke for many who have already taken the classes.

“I was hoping that I could be ready to go in ‘08,” Barajas said.

Barajas came to the United States from Mexico nearly 40 years ago and has raised a family in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he works as a waiter. For years, he said, family and friends have urged him to apply for citizenship; the decision to hold a Democratic presidential caucus next January was the clincher.

“The American dream brings me to Las Vegas,” Barajas told us when we first met nine months ago. “And the last thing for me to do is become a citizen and make my vote count.”

But when we checked in this week, Barajas told a tale of frustration.

He filed his paperwork more than six months ago but hasn’t heard a word from the government. His union says it knows of at least 1,000 in similar limbo.

“Our people are willing to pay the money. Learn whatever they have to learn and they are getting discouraged because we have to wait because the process is so slow,” Barajas said this week.

Barajas is at the beginning of the process. Felipe Lopez at the end — but also in limbo.

“I am waiting almost two years — it is a long time,” said Lopez, who came to the United States from Mexico 14 years ago and drives a truck for a seafood distributor.

Lopez showed us the paper trail of his frustration. He first applied in January 2006. He passed the citizenship test 16 months ago. The last step is a background check — and three times Lopez says he has been called in for the required fingerprinting. The last time was four months ago. Still no word on if and when he will be approved to take the oath of citizenship.

“We need a letter,” Lopez said. “That is what I need. A letter.”

The Department of Homeland Security says the process should take seven months — start to finish. But it acknowledges a growing backlog; there are nearly 900,000 pending applications now — almost twice as many as a year ago.

The government says it is a simple case of increased demand and limited resources.

The way Barajas sees it, some money spent on battling illegal immigration could be redirected temporarily to clear the backlog and clear the path for legal immigrants.

“I think it is a little discrimination, because they focus on the bad part of immigration.” Barajas said. “What about all these people who have been in the country legally and paying their taxes?”

Unions are a major force behind the citizenship drive and some labor leaders here wonder aloud if a Republican administration is perhaps dragging its feet processing the applications of people it believes are likely to become Democratic voters.

The administration says that is not the case, that the backlog is simply a question of resources.

Barajas, who is active in Culinary Union organizing, is without a doubt a Democrat — though he says he is not sure just yet who he would support if he had a chance to vote in the January Democratic caucus. Now, his best hope is being processed in time for the November election.

As for Lopez, he is not as politically active but says it is “very important to me” to finally get a chance to participate, and that while frustrated he hopes to be a citizen — and a registered voter - by the November general election. Asked about his political preferences, he shrugs, then adds, “I like Bush, but he is almost gone.”

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Richie Trezise had to go on a diet.


A submarine cable specialist headhunted for a job in New Zealand was forced to slim down before this country’s immigration service would let him in.

Welshman Richie Trezise was denied an employer-backed talent visa when he failed the Body Mass Index test (BMI), a fat measurement using a person’s weight and height.

His BMI was 42, making him morbidly obese and a potential burden on the health service under New Zealand immigration policy.

“My doctor laughed at me. He said he’d never seen anything more ridiculous in his whole life. He said not every overweight person is unhealthy or unfit,” said Mr Trezise, who plays rugby and used to be in the army.

The 35 year-old went on a crash diet to lose many kilos and two inches from his waist.

He passed the BMI to begin work for Telecom here in September.

Mr Trezise is one of four highly qualified specialist technicians working on the upgrade of the Southern Cross submarine cable.

The New Zealand Immigration Service told NBR it did not know how many people were denied entry to the country because of high BMIs.

Comments posted on the Emigrate New Zealand website forum reveal many people have been turned down after medicals revealed they were obese.

Fight the Obesity Epidemic spokeswoman and endocrinologist Robyn Toomath said the BMI was valid in the vast majority of people.

“I’m very opposed to the stigmatisation of people with obesity. However, the immigration department’s focus is different. It cannot afford to import people into the country who are going to be a significant drain on our health resources,” Ms Toomath said.

“You can see the logic in assessing if there is a significant health cost associated with this individual and that would be a reason for them not coming in.”

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In this photo provided by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office, Kelsey Peterson, 25, is pictured in El Centro, Calif., on Nov. 5, 2007. The Nebraska teacher is in federal custody and expected to face federal charges of crossing state lines to have sex with a minor _ a former student who is 13 _ an offense punishable by 10 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

New Visa May Aid Boy in Teacher Sex Case
The Associated Press
November 11, 2007

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) â?? A 13-year-old illegal immigrant who fled to his native Mexico amid a sex scandal with his schoolteacher could be eligible to return to the United States under a new visa the government started granting the week before he disappeared.

The visa helps illegal immigrants who are victims of sex crimes. If the boy, who spent most of his life in Lexington, Neb., qualifies, he could stay legally in the United States for four years and eventually apply for permanent residency. It also would extend temporary residency to his parents and his unmarried siblings under 18, if they applied for it.

“It’s a win-win,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Marilu Cabrera said of the so-called “U” visa. “It helps us and law enforcement be able to solve a crime, and it certainly helps the individual who is a victim of a crime.”

The boy and middle school teacher Kelsey Peterson were found in a mall parking lot in the border town of Mexicali, Mexico, 1,500 miles from where the pair disappeared on Oct. 26. Authorities searched for them for one week.

Peterson, 25, remains in federal custody in El Centro, Calif. A judge denied bail for her Wednesday, and she was expected to be sent back to Nebraska to face federal charges of crossing state lines to have sex with a minor, which is punishable by 10 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Associated Press had previously named the boy but later removed his name from stories because the most recent charges allege he was the victim of a sex crime.

The boy told the AP earlier this week that he would be willing to return to the United States to testify against Peterson.

“That’s something that we would have to consider as circumstances came up,” said Joe Stecher, the U.S. attorney for Nebraska. “There are various methods that we could secure his presence here for testimony purposes, and we’ll just deal with the circumstances as they come up.”

Dawson County Attorney Elizabeth Waterman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Cabrera said a conviction would not be necessary for the boy to qualify for the visa.

“It doesn’t matter what the outcome of the case is as long as they cooperate,” she said.

A law enforcement agency, prosecutor or judge in the Peterson case would have to vouch for the boy and say he helped in investigating or prosecuting Peterson in order for the boy to qualify.

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 established “U” visas to encourage illegal immigrants to report crimes against them. Cabrera said reviews of the rules by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice delayed issuing the visas until this year.

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The United States is now accepting entries for its annual visa lottery, which has brought more than 500,000 immigrants into the country since 1995. But the lottery faces an uncertain future. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have approved a bill to eliminate funding for the program. VOA’s Alex Villarreal reports from Washington.

Foreign nationals in pursuit of life in the United States can now apply online for the 2009 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. The deadline for filing applications is December 2.

Each year, the State Department program awards 50,000 permanent residency visas, known as ‘green cards,’ through a random lottery.

The lottery was created in 1990 and designed to bring in people from nations that have not had large numbers of emigrants to the United States.

Though controversial in the United States, the visa lottery is immensely popular around the world. Last year’s drawing attracted more than 6.4 million entries - the majority from Africa and Asia.

‘Congress created the diversity visa program in order to expand the diversity of the immigrant population in the United States. It’s designed to allow immigration from countries where there aren’t traditionally a lot of immigrants to the United States,’ said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, Tony Edson.

Diversity visas are distributed according to geographical region, with more going to areas with lower rates of emigration.

Natives of countries that sent more than 50,000 emigrants during the previous five years do not qualify for the program. This year’s lottery has about 20 ineligible nations, including Mexico, India, China and Russia.

Applicants to the visa lottery must have either a high school diploma or at least two years work experience in a field requiring at least two years of training.

But Bryan Griffith of the Center for Immigration Studies, an independent research institute, says those requirements are not enough. ‘There is no guarantee that they will contribute well for society or economically. It takes a little more than a high school degree for the most part…to be able to compete well in this country in this age,’ he said.

The lottery’s minimal requirements also make it vulnerable to fraud.

A report by the Government Accountability Office last month uncovered widespread use of fake documents, such as marriage licenses and passports. The office also found that people posing as visa facilitators prey on lottery entrants by charging large sums of money to help them with their forms.

Critics say the program’s potential for fraud poses a national security threat, opening the door for terrorists to enter the country.

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Miami Herald

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo wants foreigners seeking visas to join relatives in the U.S. to provide DNA samples to prove their family ties.

The Colorado congressman introduced a bill Tuesday in the House to require the tests, saying documents provided by immigrants to show they are related to U.S. citizens or permanent residents are sometimes sketchy and unreliable.

”This will help protect the integrity of our immigration system,” said Tancredo, who has based his presidential campaign on curbing immigration. “It will give us one more tool to make sure that the beneficiaries of these visas are who they say they are.”

Immigrants would pay for the DNA costs through visa application fees under the proposal.

Earlier this month, France’s Senate passed an immigration bill that would allow consular officers to request DNA samples from immigrants wanting to join families there.

The U.S. allows spouses, children, parents and siblings of U.S. citizens and spouses and children of permanent residents to apply for visas and green cards to join their relatives in the United States.

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The EU would like to see more highly trained experts from India and elsewhere working in Europe.

The European Commission may want to introduce a unified ‘Blue Card’ system to attract highly-skilled immigrants to the European Union, but the biggest economy in the 27-member bloc is saying it’s not interested.

Germany’s politicians have reacted negatively to the idea, saying that it should be up to individual European Union countries to decide on immigration and labor policy. But the country’s business leaders are making different noises. They say that despite unemployment hovering at around 3.5 million, Germany is crying out for skilled workers such as IT specialists and engineers.

With much fanfare European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini launched their vision (more…) for a European Blue Card fast-track migration program, similar to the United States Green Card scheme, in Strasbourg on Tuesday. The plan would allow skilled workers from outside the EU to overcome immigration hurdles more easily. ‘We are not good enough at attracting highly skilled people,’ Barroso said at the press conference. ‘With the EU Blue Card we send a clear signal — highly skilled people from all over the world are welcome in the EU.’

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How many immigration officers would it take to process 20 to 30+ million illegal aliens if we gave them all amnesty? How long would it take to process that many people?

Miami Herald

There are so many applications and so much pressure to process them quickly at the Miami immigration office that employees often work through lunch and after hours to complete the job, according to a union that has filed a complaint.

Rodriguez said that despite the post-9/11 Homeland Security emphasis on fraud detection, adjudication officers are not given adequate time to check applicants who may be filing fraudulent petitions.

”We are not being given sufficient time, per interview/case, to perform our important duties in a way that allows for true quality in adjudications, including the exposure and deterrence of fraud,” the letter said.

Citing an example, Rodriguez told The Miami Herald each adjudication officer was being pressured to approve eight or nine cases per day, which became a difficult task to accomplish if the regular complement of officers did not show up for work on any given day.

Because of absences, officers frequently take on more than 50 interviews per week.

Rodriguez said completing cases is a complicated task.

Each decision must be documented carefully or it can be challenged by supervisors or in administrative appeals.

Also, she said, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — when the link between immigration and national security became more clearly defined — many more databases have to be checked and forms filled out than before.

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Rancho Penasquitos is in Northern San Diego County near the infamous McGonigle Canyon migrant encampments. The San Diego Minutemen held a rally this past Saturday at the Ranch Penasquitos blvd. area where John Monti was attacked by 8 day laborers. Sam drove down from Los Angeles and shot some great videos. Sam is a member of and Sam has lots of videos on his YouTube page.

I love Sam’s commentary. Here is his introduction to the protest.

Check out this invader running off at the mouth and daring American citizens to arrest her. She swats at the camera and tells Sam, who is very patient with her, to fuck off. I’ve met so many of these people that it’s really hard to have sympathy for them. In fact this is why I commonly refer to them as INVADERS!

A local resident says that the illegal day laborers peep in his windows, urinate on his property, and drink in public where they loiter near his house. SDPD does nothing to stop it!

Young mother just moved in 2 months ago near this illegal DLS and lives in fear. She says the police won’t do anything about the illegal aliens but they hand out speeding tickets to citizens all day long.

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Wall Stree Urinal

Marylandâ??s Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski said she has won an extension of a program for temporary foreign workers by attaching it to a spending bill passed by a subcommittee she chairs.

The program exempts the workers from existing H2B visa caps if they have held jobs in the U.S. in the past. Seasonal employers have come to depend on the H2B visas and the returning workers, who staff swimming pools, ski lifts, hotels and coffee shops, among others.

Congress set a 66,000 cap on the visas, but agreed to the exemption a few years ago under pressure from employers who said they couldnâ??t find workers domestically. Last year, workers using the exemption far out-numbered those who arrived on H2Bs.

The Maryland crab industry is especially dependent on returning H2B workers from Mexico to pick crabmeat from crabs trapped by the stateâ??s watermen.

That has led Mikulski to try to make the exemption permanent, which means a steady and expanding stream of temporary workers. But that effort collapsed along with last summerâ??s immigration bill, and a temporary exemption from the cap for the returning workers expired last month.

Mikulski said in a statement the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations subcommittee attached another one-year exemption from the H2B cap to the 2008 commerce, justice and science spending bill. The Senate then passed the spending bill. Surprise, surprise: Mikulski chairs the subcommittee.

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One News Now

FBI raids have netted nine illegal Pakistani aliens and two naturalized U.S. citizens accused of money laundering — one of whom is accused of financing terrorists.

The 11 men were arrested last Thursday in morning raids on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Local law enforcement also participated in the FBI raids. According to the Daily Times (Salisbury, MD), Princess Anne convenience store owner, Muhammad Ashraf, was arrested along with four other people from Wicomico County, and the rest were netted in raids in Worcester County.

The Daily Times also reports that some of the men had paid up to $500,000 in bribes to immigration officials in order to obtain illegal green cards for them and some of their family members. Court documents reported that one cooperating witness posed as a terrorist wanting to send money to al-Qaida and had asked for help in transferring money overseas.

Other charges included the failure to pay back taxes that amounted to more than $1.8 million collectively. Those out of the 11 arrested who owned stores will stand to lose property due to the unpaid taxes.

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