Friday, November 30, 2012

CBP "Self-Deportation" Program Ends After Only Two Months

A U.S. pilot program, operated by Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") designed to deport illegal immigrants by flying them to Mexico City will operate for only two months this year and involve 20 flights, a significant scaling-back of what was billed as a humanitarian effort to avoid deporting people to violent border regions, or the Romney "Self-Deportation" Plan.

The first flight, which carried 131 immigrants, on October 2012, landed in Mexico City, six months after the originally scheduled start date of the program. Slated to run from April through November, the Interior Repatriation Initiative will operate only in October and November.

When the program was announced in February, Mexico's interior secretary, Alejandro Poire, said the flights would improve border security and make it easier for illegal immigrants to return to their hometowns by taking buses from the capital.

Deportees also would no longer be "systematically placed at the mercy of criminal groups in border areas," Poire said in a statement. The flights serve U.S. interests by making it harder for deportees to cross back into the U.S.

Under terms of the agreement, the U.S. pays for the flights, which depart from El Paso, and the Mexican government provides bus fares for the migrants' trips home.

U.S. and Mexican officials did not give specific reasons for the initiative's delay and limited duration.

"Given the complexities and logistics involved with this initiative, the length of time needed to launch the inaugural flight was not unreasonable," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

The Mexican Interior Ministry confirmed the arrival of the first flight at Mexico City's international airport in October, and said the program would continue through Nov. 29, transporting more than 2,400 people.

"Once in national territory, they will be given food and ground transportation to their communities of origin and-or residence in Mexico," the ministry and the National Migration Institute said in a statement. It said the arriving Mexicans would be given a list of social services available to them and allowed to request medical attention, as well as a phone call to their families.

If there are outstanding criminal charges in Mexico against any of the passengers, they will be investigated for possible prosecution, the ministry said.

Repatriating illegal immigrants has become problematic in recent years as deportations reach record highs and besieged border areas struggle to provide security and housing for people who often arrive penniless and without any contacts.

In the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, where deportations have surged fivefold in recent years, criminals prey on deportees, sometimes abducting them from streets, bus stations and migrant shelters. Many are held for ransom, and others are recruited into criminal networks that have seized control of much of the region.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Settled Foreign Worker LCA Complaint Against Former Employer

I recently negotiated a nice settlement agreement for a foreign employee based upon an alleged violation of his employer’s Labor Condition Agreement submitted on behalf of his I-129 application for H-1B status under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). In the Labor Condition Application (LCA) Form ETA-9035 submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor, the petitioning employer certifies that they will pay the prevailing wage for the specialty occupation until they achieve a bona fide termination, which includes three elements as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Administrative Law Judges. To effect a "bona fide" termination of an H-1B employee, the employer must: (1) properly terminate the employee under state law; (2) offer the employee return transportation costs home; and (3) notify the USCIS of the H-1B termination. In my complaint, the specialty worker alleged that he was not notified of his termination until he received actual notice of his H-1B status termination, thus Step 1 was never accomplished. The foreign national was assigned to a remote work site and was not notified that his status was being terminated until he was mailed the termination notification from USCIS. This case was very similar to another LCA violation claim that I prevailed in during our administrative hearing in front of the ALJ in the San Francisco Office. This case is presently on appeal to the ARB in Washington DC, but I fully expect to prevail on appeal. The ALJ’s decision can be found here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Origin of the Term "Immigrant" In American Public Discourse

After the recent presidential election, the question of immigration reform has become one of the top issues that seems to have any likelihood of achieving legislative success. I personally hope there is some consensus reached between the parties that can achieve a favorable outcome.

This discussion however, started me thinking about how these terms originated, such as "immigrant." It seems that at the time of the founding of the United States, the more common words to describe recent entrants were words such as "alien," "foreigner," and "newcomer."

The Oxford English Dictionary reports that the pioneering American historian Jeremy Belknap was one of the first to use "immigrant" and its cognates in print. In his History of New Hampshire (1792), vol. 3, preface, 6, Belknap wrote, "There is another deviation from the strict letter of the English which is found extremely convenient in our discourses on population . . . The verb immigrate and the nouns immigrant and immigration are used without scruple in some parts of this volume."

The used of "immigrant" appears to have become frequent only after the heavy transatlantic movements of people to North America. After the onset of mass immigration to the United States, which began in the 1840s, the term became routine.