Archive for October, 2004

President Bush Authorizes $8 Million for Refugees

October 27, 2004

President Bush announced today that it is important to the national interest that up to $8 million be authorized to meet the needs related to the Burundi refugees.

“Transit Camps” for European Asylum Seekers

October 19, 2004

European countries are debating whether to place asylum seekers in transit camps in North Africa. The Washington Post is reporting that France and Spain oppose the proposal:

“For France, it’s out of the question to accept transit camps or shelters of any kind,” Dominique de Villepin, the French interior minister, said at a closing news conference. Spain’s interior minister, Jose Antonio Alonso, said such camps would not provide humanitarian guarantees.

Actuaries & Plant Pathologists May Qualify for NAFTA Benefits

October 14, 2004

Actuaries and Plant Pathologists have been added as NAFTA professions.

2004 Third U.S.Presidential Debate

October 14, 2004

MODERATOR: Let’s go to a new question, Mr. President. I got more e-mail this week on this question than any other question, and it is about immigration. I’m told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know, some believe it’s an economic issue, some see it as a human rights issue. How do you see it and what do we need to do about it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I see it as a serious problem. I see it as a security issue, I see it as an economic issue, and I see it as a human rights issue. We’re increasing the border security of the United States. We got 1,000 more border patrol agents on the southern border. We’re using new equipment. We’re using unmanned vehicles to spot people coming across. And we’ll continue to do so over the next four years. It’s a subject I’m very familiar with. After all, I was a border governor for a while.

Many people are coming to this country for economic reasons. They’re coming here to work. If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5.00 here in America — $5.15 — you’re going to come here if you’re worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families. And that’s what’s happening.

And so, in order to take pressure off the border, in order to make the borders more secure, I believe there ought to be a temporary worker card that allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up, so long as there’s not a American willing to do the job — to join up in order to be able to fulfill the employer’s needs. That has the benefit of making sure our employers aren’t breaking the law as they try to fill their work force needs. It makes sure that the people coming across the border are humanely treated, that they’re not kept in the shadows of our society, that they’re able to go back and forth to see their families. See, the card will have a period of time attached to it.

It also means it takes pressure off the border. If somebody is coming here to work with a card, it means they’re not going to have to sneak across the border. It means our border patrol will be more likely to be able to focus on doing their job.

Now, it’s very important for our citizens to also know that I don’t believe we ought to have amnesty. I don’t think we ought to reward illegal behavior. There are plenty of people standing in line to become a citizen and we ought not to crowd these people ahead of them in line. If they want to become a citizen, they can stand in line, too. And here’s where my opponent and I differ. In September, 2003, he supported amnesty for illegal aliens.

MODERATOR: Time’s up. Senator.

SENATOR KERRY: Let me just answer one part of that last question quickly and then I’ll come to immigration. The American middle-class family isn’t making it right now, Bob, and what the President said about the tax cuts have been wiped out by the increase in health care, the increase in gasoline, the increase in tuitions, the increase in prescription drugs. The fact is the take-home pay of a typical American family as a share of national income is lower than it’s been since 1929. And the take-home pay of the richest .1 percent of Americans is the highest it’s been since 1928. Under President Bush, the middle class has seen their tax burden go up, and the wealthiest tax burdens gone down. Now, that’s wrong.

Now, with respect to immigration reform, the President broke his promise on immigration reform. He said he would reform it. Four years later, he’s now promising another plan. Here’s what I’ll do: Number one, the borders are more leaking today than they were before 9/11. The fact is we haven’t done what we need to do to toughen up our borders — and I will.

Secondly, we need a guest worker program, but if it’s all we have, it’s not going to solve the problem. The second thing we need is to crack down on illegal hiring. It’s against the law in the United States to hire people illegally. And we ought to be enforcing that law properly. And thirdly, we need an earned legalization program for people who’ve been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes, and their kids are American, we’ve got to start moving them toward full citizenship, out of the shadows.

MODERATOR: Do you want to respond, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, to say that the borders are not as protected as they were prior to September 11th shows he doesn’t know the borders. They’re much better protected today than they were when I was the governor of Texas. We’ve got much more manpower, much more equipment there. He just doesn’t understand how the borders work, evidently, to say that. That is an outrageous claim. And we’ll continue to protect our borders. We’ll continue to increase manpower and equipment.

MODERATOR: Senator.

SENATOR KERRY: Four thousand people a day are coming across the border. The fact is that we now have people from the Middle East, allegedly, coming across the border. And we’re not doing what we ought to do in terms of the technology. We have iris identification technology. We have thumb print, fingerprint technology today. We can know who the people are, that they’re really the people they say they are, when they cross the border. We could speed it up. There are huge delays. The fact is, our borders are not as secure as they ought to be, and I’ll make them secure.

Senator Kennedy’s Statements On New Immigration Bill

October 12, 2004

STATEMENT OF SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY”THE IMMIGRATION PROVISIONS OF H.R.10″October 11, 2004

Mr. Kennedy. Mr. President. I have serious concerns about the direction our Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives have taken on the legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The House bill, H.R.10, departs in significant and problematic ways from the Commission’s specifically-tailored recommendations to protect our country against future terrorist attacks. The recommendations call for preventing terrorist travel, establishing an effective screening system to protect our borders, transportation systems, and other vital facilities, expediting full implementation of a biometric entry-exit screening system, establishing global border security standards by working with trusted allies, and standardizing identity documents and birth certificates.

Instead of adhering to these carefully considered measures, as the Senate has done, the House Republican leadership has included long-rejected, anti-immigrant proposals that have nothing to do with the Commission’s recommendations. The House bill severely limits the rights of immigrants, asylum seekers, and victims of torture and fails to strengthen the security of our nation.

Among the worst provisions in the House bill are those which create insurmountable obstacles and burdens for asylum seekers, including many women and children, eliminate judicial review, including the constitutional writ of habeas corpus, for certain immigration orders, and which allow the deportation of individuals to countries where they are likely to be tortured, in violation of our international treaty obligations.

Many share my concerns with the House bill. The list of critics, lead by families of the 9/11 victims, is rapidly growing. A recent letter to House members, signed by more than two dozen family members of persons who died in the terrorist attacks, states that the immigration provisions are outside the scope of the Commission’s recommendations and urges House members not to enact them. To underscore their concerns, the families state their “strong collective position that legislation to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations not be used in a politically divisive manner.”

Similarly, the chair of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, has said that the House immigration provisions “which are controversial and are not part of our recommendations to make the American people safer perhaps ought to be part of another bill at another time.” Likewise, the vice-chair, Lee Hamilton, warned that the inclusion of these “controversial provisions at this late hour can harm our shared purpose of getting a good bill to the President before the 108th Congress adjourns.”

I am submitting for the record the letters of a broad spectrum of religious, immigrant, human rights, and civil liberties groups voicing their strong opposition to the immigration provisions in the House bill. These groups include the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Jewish Committee, Amnesty International, the Arab-American Institute Center for Community Change, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Freedom House, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, the National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Forum, the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights, the Service Employees International Union, the Tahirih Justice Center, the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration, World Relief, and the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children.

In these difficult times for our country, we know that the threat of terrorism has not ended. We have to keep doing all we can to see that our borders are protected and our immigration laws are enforced, and that law enforcement officials have the full support they need. But we must do so in ways that respect fundamental rights. Congress should not enact laws that ride rough-shod over basic rights in the name of national security. Immigrants are part of our heritage and history. We jeopardize our own fundamental values when we adopt harsh security tactics that trample the rights and liberties of immigrants. We must learn from the past, so that we do not continue to repeat these mistakes in the future.

This legislation is too important for it to be derailed by political pandering to anti-immigrant extremists. We need to pass this reform legislation, but we need to get it right. The American people expect, and deserve, better.

Guide for New Green Card Holders

October 7, 2004

The USCIS has an informative guide for new green card holders, here. The guide includes a section on the rights and responsibilities of a lawful permanent resident. One important thing to remember is that the green card can be taken away if the person violates any of the immigration laws.

H1-B Cap of 65,000 Visas Reached

October 3, 2004

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office has announced that the H1-B cap has been reached for fiscal year 2005. Congress has set an annual cap of 65,000 H1-B visas. USCIS is not accepting anymore H1-B petitions that are subject to the annual cap.

H-2B Temporary Workers

October 1, 2004

The U.S. Department of Labor published a regulation today providing guidance for the labor certification process for temporary employment of nonimmigrant workers in the U.S. under the H-2B visa category.

Omissions

October 1, 2004

Last night’s foreign policy presidential debate focused almost exclusively on Iraq. What about the rest of the world? For instance, how about Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Haiti, Sudan, and Israel? It is unclear who won the debate. According to this Gallup Poll, Kerry won the debate. Yet, the U.S. media seems to be reporting that President Bush won. I think it’s time for us to make our own informed decisions about America’s future.

In other news, visitors from industrialized nations including England, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Australia are now required to be fingerprinted and photographed by U.S. immigration officials. This new procedure is expected to affect 13 million visitors each year. According to Today’s New York Times, “[t]he change was made after intelligence reports indicated that terrorists might take advantage of that provision, which allows travelers from Europe and other industrialized countries to travel to the United States with little scrutiny.”

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