Throwback Thursday with Police "Chief" Baca

Yesterday Los Angeles former Police Chief Lee Baca was convicted in a corruption scheme to thwart FBI investigation of mistreatment at the Men’s Central Jail, Los Angeles. Lee Baca and I, years ago, before he was ever criminally charged, were at a cocktail party in a private residence. I shared with him a series of events which happened to me and a client at the Men’s Central Jail. I wanted to inform him of the conduct of his deputies so he could do something about it. Little did I know then that he was responsible for the culture there. Here’s what I told him, with changes to protect the privacy of my client.

I had one occasion to visit Men’s Central Jail. Only few of my clients are in custody and if so, they tend to be in federal custody, not in a county jail. This was my first and only time to the Men’s Central Jail. I will never forget how traumatizing it was.  

My client was never charged with a crime. He arrived at jail bleeding, was deprived prescriptions and never saw a doctor. A dirty wash cloth was all he had to shield his wound. He had never been arrested and was so petrified he could not sleep at all there.  When I interviewed him, there was no privacyl; we had to whisper and hope we were not being listened to as there were what looked like listening devices all around. Where was our Constitution? I feared for him.

When in a jail, there is very little free movement, of course. Locked doors everywhere are welcome as jails are dangerous places and safety of visitors is critical. Exiting this place was a little tricky. From the locked interview area, a Deputy Sherriff had me pass through to another room. He had me walk in front of him, as though he was a gentleman. I took a few steps toward what I thought was the exit door I thought I’d entered through. This room had two unmarked doors, neither of which said, “Exit.” Apparently I was walking toward the door leading to the innards of the jail instead. Rather than directing me in a normal voice to the correct door, the Deputy became agitated, spoke loudly and threatening. He asked me if I “really wanted to go in there” as though I intentionally walked toward the wrong door, and he was going to make that happen. I made clear: 1. I had never been in that building; 2. He had me pass in front of him; 3. I took just a few steps; and 4. I believed I was going toward the exit. Why on earth would I, a petite woman, ever want to enter the depths of a men’s jail, illegally? Actually, he should have never let me walk in front of him, then blame, insult, intimidate, try to manipulate, and absurdly treat me illegally.

When I shared this with Police Chief Baca, he seemed truly surprised. Little did I know then that he may be convicted of having allowed the illegal LA Sheriffs’ culture. When I think back to the speech he gave that day lauding God and Jesus, like a shield, it makes me sick. No one ought be above the law and use what is meant to be ultimate goodness to protect against their evil.

President Trump has fired the prosecutors who would have Baca convicted had this case started today. Let’s not allow this conviction to be an example of a memory past. We need our U.S. Attorneys who work for the President to uphold the law, with justice for all.

My Grandma the Terrorist, Really???

My grandmother lived in Aleppo, Syria a hundred years ago as a 12 year old orphaned Christian, ethnic Armenian refugee from the Ottoman Empire. If she tried to come to the U.S. today the same way, she would be turned away as a risk to the safety of the U.S. To be viewed by the U.S. as a threat was never considered as a rational perspective until recent times. There are threats to the U.S., but the wholesale misclassification of millions of people today who have already experienced atrocities before being examined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection is wrong. It hurts the U.S. too.

Banning refugees from Syria is wrong. These are people who appreciate the small things in life more than those who don't know suffering. They are inspired by fortune after misfortune to contribute for all our benefits. To shun them after being unspeakably victimized already is a reason for them to become angry as direct result of American leadership paranoia. Rather than the American Dream, this is an American Nightmare. Stand up and force our leaders to detect those who are true dangers in a more effective way, for everyone's well-being.

Trump on Immigration and the National Interest Waiver

Finally, some good news on the employment immigration front: the 2d preference national interest waiver for advance degree aliens or those with exceptional ability can more easily qualify for permanent residence as a result of Matter of Dhanasa (26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO 2016). This December 27 case  breathes new life into this little used category. Now entrepreneurs, tech, cultural, education, those in the arts and many others accomplished individuals may more easily petition on their own behalf. In recent years, the category was seldom used as it was very hard to qualify. In this stunning broadening of the pool of qualified individuals, was this decision preemptive of anticipated stringent Trump immigration policy? Did the Board of Immigration Appeals fear our new president will make decisions against our nation’s interests? Perhaps.

                                 

As inauguration day approaches, it’s not possible to know just what our President Elect will do about immigration when the time comes. So far, pundits surmise that he makes decisions off the cuff, based on who has spoken with him last, on the subject at hand. After all he’s said, and given he appointed Department of Homeland Security Secretary former Marine General John Kelly, enforcement is clearly the priority, but the rhetoric on immigration has been as though we have not been enforcing the law already. This is untrue. Record numbers of aliens have been removed from the U.S. since President Obama was elected, 2.5 million. During this time, the number of immigration judges increased from 210[1] in 2008 to 250 judges today[2]; each judge handles far more cases, more than 1,400 cases each.[3]

The number of undocumented aliens in the U.S., some 11 million has been relatively stable since 2005[4]. In fact, criminal aliens are not new to removal as may be assumed by Trump’s focus on them. They have been kept from being admitted and/or removed in one way shape or form since the Immigration Act of 1891[5] so keeping them out has always been a priority and based on the numbers of removals, especially of criminal aliens ineligible for relief, the numbers have never been larger. It was not until after 9/11 that the deportation law was seriously enforced though. Surprisingly, in 2001 only 30,000 total deportation cases were completed, including those deported, closed cases or those which resulted in permanent residence after proceedings! So where does this enforcement rhetoric leave us? Is it in the national interest to focus on criminal alien removal when we are already removing at rates in less than 20 years by nearly 1,000 fold? Does the rhetoric make sense? Will anything of real value further be able to be done than already is by severely increasing the national debt for little return by comparison?

 

Would it not be more in the U.S. national interest to continue the enforcement as is, while further focusing on the admission of those truly in the U.S. national interest, whether they qualify in this particular category so as to self-petition or be petitioned by their employers? While it is tragic that the rust belt has been neglected to the extreme, still the labor needed to keep the U.S. in the 21st century as it slips further behind other industrial nations is a crisis which this other problem cannot be solved by addressing in the short term. Corporations must be accountable for retraining to the extent possible and other solutions considered when not, rather than scapegoating aliens. who the vast majority of economists believe even those undocumented contribute to more than they take from the U.S. economy.[6]  At least the BIA understood this to the extent those who qualify in the U.S. national interest may petition themselves today more easily.

The numbers of lawful workers self-petitioned or by employers has not changed in nearly 30 years by a law known as IMMACT 90. This law was the same one which created the national interest waiver. At least maybe now this category could finally be predictably used, and more of our national interests met. At best, it’s time to take an honest look at our national immigration needs.

 

[1] TRAC Immigration,” Improving the Immigration Courts: Effort to Hire More Judges Falls Short” referencing Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/189/
 

[2] Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, https://www.justice.gov/eoir/office-of-the-chief-immigration-judge

 

[3] American Immigration Council, “Empty Benches: Underfunding of Immigration Courts Undermines Justice,” June 16, 2016, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/empty-benches-underfunding-immigration-courts-undermines-justice

 

[4] FacTank, News in the Numbers, Jens Manuel Krogstad, Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn, November 3, 2016, Pew Research Center, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/03/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/. There was a small peak to just about 12 million for a year in 2008.

 

[5] Immigration Law Sourcebook 15th Edition, Ira Kurzban, AILA 2016 , Ch 1 - Brief History of Immigration Laws,  http://ailalink.aila.org/#search/result/view/54056

[6] Survey results reported in Simon, Julian L. (1989) The Economic Consequences of Immigration Boston

WHO Baby Food Guidelines #TBT

As the conventions have almost finished and the 2016 general election comes ever nearer, sometimes it is necessary to take a break from the political rhetoric. After all, hearing Republican nominee Donald Trump discuss building a wall on the Mexican-American border and banning all Muslims from entering the country is downright terrifying.

Thus, in search of a brief respite, I searched through my immigration archives and happened upon an article I had saved from the Los Angeles Times. Dated May 7, 1980, the article discusses U.S. involvement in World Health Organization (WHO) regulations surrounding baby formula. I remembered that I saved this article because, as a WHO intern at the time, I was critically involved crafting those baby formula regulations!

I have embedded a copy of the article into this blog post, and the language of the article is transcribed below. There’s your Throw Back Thursday!

“Patricia Roberts Harris, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Resources, said the United States wanted government representatives to be fully involved in drafting a baby food marketing code now being drawn up by the World Health Organization. She said formal government participation is necessary to win consensus support of a code in the 155-member WHO assembly. She expressed the hope that baby food companies will support voluntary guidelines designed to stop misuse of powdered milk in developing countries and to promote breast feeding.”

Naturalizations and the Election!

With the elections sure to be historic, those close to the ground are seeing an uptick in naturalization applications. Whether by naturalization, by descent or derivatively, U.S. citizenship is required for voting in federal presidential elections. There's time to file now, but as more people apply, waits could get longer with approvals coming later than would be helpful to vote this time. If you're thinking about citizenship, your decision making time is short if you want to vote in November. Note: some jurisdictions take longer than others. Los Angeles is taking about six months right now.

H-1Bs due 4/7/16, not 4/1/16

Those filing H-1B petitions with the Citizenship and Immigration Services for temporary positions requiring bachelor's level knowledge must prepare their applications for filing during the first five business days of April 2016, due this year by April 7. They are only due April 1 when fewer than the maximum number of cases which may be accepted are filed. More time is given, including the entire first five business days of April when the number of H-1B applications filed is larger than 65,000 for bachelor's required positions, plus 20,000 for US earned master's degree recipients, as is overwhelmingly predicted this year. Alice Yardum-Hunter, a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of CA, is a "Super Lawyer" for 13 years in a row whose employment based H-1B practice focuses on specialists in business, computer and arts positions requiring specialized knowledge at the bachelor's level.

Ombudsman's Liaison Teleconference

On December 10, 2015, Alice Yardum-Hunter spoke on problems and solutions with Business Immigration Petitions on behalf of the LA County Bar Assn. in the 3d Annual Department of Homeland Security’s Ombudsman’s Liaison Teleconference. The Ombudsman’s office brings USCIS headquarters in DC for our bar association to better serve the public as well as handling individual case inquiries filed with USCIS.

Business Immigration Expert Panelist, USCIS Annual Ombudsman Liaison Teleconference of LACBA Immigration Section and AILA

Alice Yardum-Hunter presented agenda items in business immigration for consideration by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman's Office in Washington, D.C. Her questions dealt with O-1 extensions beyond one year for "new" events. There is inconsistent guidance between the Online instruction webpage to O-1s and a 2002 memo which is clear that new travel is not required for an extension beyond one year for new O-1 events resulting in extensions of up to three years. Also asked about was the circumstances under which students can without incident soon after qualify as extraordinary in their field. The government acknowledges such qualification is possible, depending on individual case merits. Questions also focused on the lengthy processing times for initial H-1Bs and H-1B extensions. It's a matter of resources, particularly with CAP GAP employment authorization relief being available for most everyone, though the Ombudsman would intervene in situations where employment may be in jeopardy due to government delay.

DV Lottery 2017

Diversity immigration lottery exists to keep the U.S. population diverse. 50,000 Lottery visas will be issued to countries which have had under 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the past five years. The application to win an opportunity for permanent residence in the U.S. is accepted online October 1 - November 3, 2015. Winners will learn over time whether they have won. If so, they must have applications for adjustment of status or immigrant visas granted by September 30, 2015.

Citizens of most countries around the world of course qualify. Countries with large numbers of immigrants in recent years are disqualified. They include: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan remain eligible.

Speech: Consular Processing for Experts

Alice Yardum-Hunter presented for ilw.com in its Consular Processing for Experts series on December 23, 2014. Ms. Yardum=Hunter covered current issues in family immigrant consular processing, fiancee (K-1) visas, Field Officer Operations for family petitions (I-130s) filed out of district abroad, and provisional waivers (I-601As). For recordings of this teleconference, contact ilw.com, or questions about the content of the talk, contact info@yardum-hunter.com.

YouTube

Catch us on YouTube now in a presentation by Alice Yardum-Hunter in presentation for the Armenian Bar Association on two topics from the mid-year meeting in Toronto 2009: 1. TN Status for Canadians and 2. Visa Processing through Yerevan, Armenia. 

Search for Alice M. Yardum-Hunter a Law Corporation on Youtube to find me speaking there.

Yardum-Hunter to lead discussion with USCIS Ombudsman

In the first of its kind, Alice Yardum-Hunter will lead a discussion between members of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. with the USCIS Ombudsman's Office in Washington, DC. Members of the two organizations will have their questions addressed in regard to systemic procedural and substantive issues in employment, family, humanitarian and administrative aspects of US immigration law. The Ombudsman addresses these issues with the USCIS in Washington in their responses to the bar and public. Members of the public are welcome to participate in this event which begins at 1 pm eastern time by dialing into Phone number: 888-790-3403 Passcode: 6955380.

We are informed that the government seeks to continue these discussions in the future as well.

Yardum-Hunter speaks on Consular Processing

In today's frequently hostile posture of the U.S. State Dept. when deciding to issue a nonimmigrant visa to a foreign national, it's good to know how that agency functions. This talk will cover those in an effort to educate lawyers in their representation of such clients. Ilw is the largest immigration portal on the internet. For them, Alice Yardum-Hunter will present a talk on updates at the State Department in regard to Consular Processing. 

Specifically, coverage will include
• Administrative processing - what does it mean?
• L-1 visa problems – generally
• Consular Tools
o Foreign Affairs Manual
o ALDACs
• INA § 214 (b) denials
o Home ties and immigrant intent
o Nationality
o Marital status
o Gender
o Family ties
o Economic and Professional ties

F2A Spouses of Permanent Residents Ready for Processing

For years, spouses of permanent residents have endured years' long wait to secure permanent residence. Not now. Currently, regardless of home country and when a petition was filed, it is ready for process the immigrant visa as soon as it is approved. There are no quota waits in the 2d preference family quote for spouses of U.S. citizens. 

Visa demand varies and is reported monthly by the U.S. Dept. of State in the Visa Bulletin, here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html.

DOMA and Prop 8 Struck Down

In a bold move by the U.S. Supreme Court, both DOMA and Proposition 8 have been struck down. This means that same sex couples may marry in California. It also means nationwide, that U.S. citizen and permanent resident spouses in same sex marriages may petition for permanent residence for their spouse anywhere in the U.S., as long as the marriage was valid where it took place. In the U.S. marriage is lawful in 13 states including now California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington —as well as the District of Columbia. It is also lawful in 13 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Marriages in these countries and states support permanent residence applications anywhere in the U.S.

U.S. Senate's "Gang of 8" releases Immigration Reform bill

The U.S. Senate's so-called "Gang of 8," including 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans, have formally filed their bill for comprehensive immigration reform.

Some of the major points of the bill include:

- "Path to Citizenship" for current undocumented aliens who arrived before Jan 1, 2012, including possible green card within 10 years; "Dreamer" youth can obtain green card in 5 years

- Replaces the green card lottery with a points-based system

- Eliminates quotas per country

- U.S. companies must implement "E-verify"

- Cap on H-1B visas would double from 65,000 to 110,000

- Raises age to 21 for stepchildren and 18 for adoptions

- New Guest Worker "W-visa" for lower-skilled workers

See the full text of the bill here

We will be following the progress of the latest immigration reform efforts and will keep you updated.

H-1B Cap Hits, Lottery Results

On April 5,2013, USCIS announced that for the fiscal year 2014 (starting October 1, 2013), it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000, plus 20,000 cap-exempt, advance degree petitions. More than 20,000 advance degree cap exempt petitions have been received. A lottery will take place as a result. Cases filed April 1 to April 5 will be counted and randomly, the first qualifying petitions will be approved..

The random selection computer process lottery for advance degree petitions will take place first. All advance degree petitions not selected will then be a part of a second lottery for the remaining 65,000 limit.

The exact number of petitions received and when the lottery will take place is not yet known. Applications are being received through today. Other cap-exempt H-1Bs will continue to be accepted.”

Electronic I-94s after April 26, 2013

U.S. Customs and Border Protection published a rule published in the Federal Register doing away with paper I-94s starting April 26, 2013. Starting then, I-94 information will be captured electronically. Citing efficiency and streamlining the admissions process, CBP expects to save $15.5 million per year, while facilitating travel as well as security. Those going through secondary inspection will still be issued paper I-94s. Departmentos of Motor Vehicles and employment verification I-9 procedures still require paper I-94s. Those who will work or seek drivers licenses in the U.S. are directed to www.cbp.gov/I94* to print a copy of an I-94 based on the electronically submitted data. While efficiency and facilitation of travel are to be encouraged, measures should also be taken to reduce confusion for employers and temporary workers so work time is not lost due to bureaucratic issues.