David North's blog

Small Nations Show U.S. How Immigration Policies Should Work

By David North, March 2, 2012

All nations, great and small, have immigration policies. Lately it appears that some of the smaller ones could give some lessons to the big one we live in.

The Bahamas, for instance, is, by Caribbean standards, rather prosperous; 50 years ago its unemployed came to the United States to help with the Virginia/West Virginia apple harvest, but now it is receiving temporary foreign workers to do farm and other low-paid work.

But that little nation has its priorities right and has reduced by 2,299 the number of alien work permits issued in 2011 compared to 2010. Read more...

H-1B Question: What Is the Real Demand for High School Turkish Teachers?

By David North, February 29, 2012

The H-1B program damages America in a number of ways, directly and indirectly, discouraging young American from following high-tech careers and shunting aside skilled U.S. citizens and green-card holders because of their "advanced age", i.e., anything over 35.

This has been widely reported by many, including my CIS colleague John Miano, and Professor Norm Matloff at UC/Davis. Read more...

Two New Takes on "Birth Tourism"

By David North, February 28, 2012

Two different aspects of "birth tourism" have come to light recently.

The birth tourism issue is a subset of the broader birthright citizenship matter; birth tourism involves pregnant alien women visiting a nation briefly to have a child that acquires that nation's citizenship instantly. The mother and the baby then leave, at least for a while. Read more...

Two Hidden Themes at the Recent House Immigration Hearing

By David North, February 22, 2012

There were two underlying themes at a recent House Immigration Subcommittee hearing that deserve a little more attention.

The hearing, on February 15, dealt with the explosive report by the Acting Inspector General of DHS, Charles K. Edwards, in which he explored the extent to which USCIS, during the Obama administration, has pushed rank-and-file staff members to approve marginal applications for immigration benefits. Read more...

Bursts of Dubious Creativity in the Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Program

By David North, February 21, 2012

When you dangle prospects of investment money before some capital-starved businessmen, you can be assured that the creativity juices will be stimulated.

This is certainly the case with the USCIS's immigrant investor program, called EB-5, because it deals with the fifth class of employment-based immigrants in the Immigration and Nationality Act. For more on the program generally, see CIS's recently-published Backgrounder on the subject. Read more...

Case History: 32 Years Later and Fernando Arango is Still in Court

By David North, February 21, 2012

Some aliens' battles with the U.S. government go on for 10, 12, even 15 years.

Then there is Fernando Arango.

He started his relations with the government successfully, but on the wrong foot, when he arrived in the U.S. from Columbia in 1980 with a green card obtained through a fraudulent marriage. (It ran in the family. His sister arrived in the same manner.) Read more...

Homeland Security Pork

By David North, February 18, 2012

Most people are not aware that the fine print of the Department of Homeland Security's new budget includes a set of grants "to help strengthen the nation against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks and other hazards" . . .

. . . to be awarded to Indian tribes.

A total of $6 million has been set aside for this purpose; it even has its own initials, which are THSGP, for the Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program. It is a small part of a much larger activity. Read more...

Case History: Sloppy Government Work Stalls Criminal's Deportation

By David North, February 17, 2012

Sloppy work by both an ICE attorney and an immigration judge (IJ) has led to the delay, and perhaps ultimately the reversal, of the well-deserved deportation of a native of El Salvador who has a substantial criminal record.

This was revealed, if not in the terms I used above, by a recent decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Read more...

House Immigration Subcommittee Has a Lively Hearing

By David North, February 16, 2012

The immigration subcommittee of the House of Representatives had an unusually lively hearing yesterday on the DHS Acting Inspector-General's report about how the USCIS agency staff is pressed to say "yes" to immigration benefit applications and to do so quickly.

The administration's spokesman denied that this was happening.

"Civil Rights" Group Endangers Food Stamp Eligibility for Its Own Alien Clients

By David North, February 16, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center may be endangering the Food Stamp eligibility of its own clients, probably children of illegal aliens.

SPLC is a vehement advocate of open borders. Its main lawyer complained vigorously that children (probably U.S.-born citizens), perhaps eligible for Food Stamps, had been questioned about the legal status of their parents (probably illegal aliens). Read more...

Dept. of Labor Loses Migration Enforcement Funds to USDA

By David North, February 15, 2012

In keeping with the loss of immigration enforcement funds in the new budget, as shown in my colleague, Jessica Vaughan's blog on the ICE budget and my own posting yesterday on the DHS budget generally, there's been a largely overlooked sleight of hand in the Department of Labor's proposed budget that works in the same (sad) direction. Read more...

DHS Budget: More Tax Funds for Benefits, Less for Enforcement

By David North, February 14, 2012

It should come as no surprise that the president's budget proposal reduces tax funds for immigration law enforcement, given the White House tilt on the subject. But it may surprise some that the same budget calls for more tax moneys for the granting of immigration benefits. Read more...

How the More-Migration People Manipulate Numerical Ceilings

By David North, February 12, 2012

American immigration policy since the 1920s has been based on the concept of numerical limits.

Not even the most blatant open borders types actually argue that there should be no numerical limits at all; to do so would to invite certain defeat.

But the same people are extremely skilled at outmaneuvering numerical limits, as recent events on Capitol Hill have shown. Perhaps it would be helpful to create a little list of these ploys, on how to undermine numerical ceilings on immigration without making a direct attack on the central concept:

Hidden Double Attacks on our Immigration System

By David North, February 10, 2012

In addition to their massive assaults on the very core of our immigration laws – such as the use of "prosecutorial discretion" in deportation cases – the more-migration people in and out of the administration are keeping up a steady drum roll of proposed and actual changes in the rules, all intended to expand highly-specific bits and pieces of migratory flows and, in many cases, to short-change the Social Security system. Read more...

Proposal: Let's Let the Spouses Help Finance the "Best and the Brightest"

By David North, February 6, 2012

On the one hand, the mass migration lobbyists say that we must admit more of the "best and brightest" alien workers and should expand the H-1B program to do so. The economy needs them, they say.

On the other, their friends in the administration are now tacitly admitting that the wages offered in the same H-1B program are inadequate to support the "best and brightest" already in the program.

A little cognitive dissonance, maybe? Or just a wonderful example of a tin ear, or maybe a tin brain? Read more...

Another Precinct Reporting – Cayman Islands Ups Investments Needed for Visas

By David North, February 5, 2012

If America is going to sell legal status to immigrant investors – a subject I explored in a recent Backgrounder – then what is the appropriate price?

The U.S. charges $500,000 for a full set of green cards for the entire family. I am not at all sure that this is a good idea.

As noted in the Backgrounder, most English-speaking nations require rather larger investments in return for the visas than does the U.S. The Bahamas, for example, has a de facto minimum of $1.5 million. Read more...

The Food Stamp Program Rewards Households with Illegal Aliens

By David North, February 3, 2012

Readers, let us immerse ourselves in the convoluted language and thinking of the immigration policy world.

You know, where "parole" is a good thing (you can, despite your apparent disqualifications, enter the country), and where "voluntary departure," which might sound positive actually means that you have to leave, albeit without shackles.

Similarly, the double negative verdict of "cancellation of removal" is good news, because it means you can stay here (though you probably should have been thrown out). Read more...

The President and a Senator Join the H-1B Controversy

By David North, February 2, 2012

Both Barack Obama and Mark Warner have won elections to the U.S. Senate, both are Democrats, both are graduates of Harvard Law, and both have figured in the H-1B controversy in recent weeks, the president more prominently than the Virginia senator.

While the president's statement during a video chat session that "industry tells me that they do not have enough highly-skilled engineers" was contradicted by data from his own Census Bureau, as CIS pointed out today, and was fairly widely reported, the senator's off-stage involvement in the program was not well known. Read more...

Case History: The Complications Once Deportation Is Ordered

By David North, January 31, 2012

A recent Board of Immigration Appeals decision -- rejecting asylum claims from a Chinese couple – shows how complicated it can be to move from a decision that an alien is in illegal status, to the alien's actual deportation. Many of the complications, however, can be seen only by reading between the lines. Read more...

Alien Workers Who Do Not Pay FICA in the Islands and on the Mainland

By David North, January 30, 2012

Suppose you were an elected official, and were facing a situation in which the class of people who voted for you were facing a severe financial penalty when they sought jobs.

Suppose there was a system that gave non-voting aliens on your turf a substantial break in terms of their payroll costs to employers, and that as a result, employers actively favored giving jobs to the non-voters.

You would think that any politician in his (or her) right mind would want to fight the discriminatory system that hurts your supporters. Right? Read more...

Case Histories: BIA Opens a Loophole in Immigration Enforcement

By David North, January 24, 2012

A potential gaping hole in immigration enforcement, opened earlier by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), has popped up again.

It deals with a subset of mostly long-term illegal alien border crossers now married to, or otherwise related to, U.S. citizens – a substantial population, but only to a portion of them. It probably pertains to very few aliens who are not from Mexico. Read more...

Uncle Omar, Visa Lottery Fees, and Other Tidbits

By David North, January 20, 2012

The tone-deafness of the White House on illegal immigration, the congressional decision against charging fees to applicants for the visa lottery, and other immigration policy news deserve note this last day of the week.

Uncle Omar

It is well known that the administration is oblivious to the widespread (but non-elite) concern about illegal immigration; in a related matter, the White House is also showing no self-preservation smarts when it comes to Uncle Omar, the president's drunk-driving-and-illegal-alien relative. Read more...

Big Majority of Foreign PhDs Stay in the U.S. Many Years After Degree

By David North, January 19, 2012

A large majority of a group that can appropriately be called the "best and the brightest," U.S.-trained foreign PhDs in the STEM fields, stay in the U.S. under the current immigration system, according to a new, authoritative study.

Relating that fact to immigration policy, the author of the study that was released today wrote:

The data in this report provide no support for the view that S/E recipients on temporary visas have had declining stay rates because of difficulty obtaining visas that would permit them to say in the United States to work.

Haitian Nonimmigrant Farmworkers? But Only if Growers Ask for Them

By David North, January 18, 2012

The relatively small-scale nonimmigrant programs for unskilled workers now have new rules which would allow Haitian workers to come to the U.S. ... if U.S. employers are interested.

USCIS announced on January 17 that Haiti was one of five nations added to the list of countries where recruitment is to be permitted for both the H-2A (farmworker) and H-2 B (nonagricultural, unskilled worker) seasonal nonimmigrant programs. Read more...

Case Study: One Shady Immigration Lawyer and K-1 Petitions

By David North, January 16, 2012

Some immigration lawyers are brilliant and hard-working; many others are competent and dutiful.

Still others, down the continuum of the immigration bar, are reasonably competent, but do not do well by their clients because they take on too many (of these usually ill-paid) assignments. Other are just well-intentioned bumblers, who should be making a living some other way.

At the very bottom of this range are the lawyers who knowingly file dishonest petitions (thus cheating the government) while misleading their clients by telling them they have a chance for legal status, when they do not, or should not. Read more...

The Welcome Arrival of a New, Clear-Eyed Reporter

By David North, January 15, 2012

One of the continuing problems in the immigration policy field has been the general posture of the mainstream media that international migration is, almost without exception, a great thing and as American as apple pie.

With this in mind, I would like to note the arrival of a clear-eyed reporter who takes a refreshing look at immigration policy. I have never met or talked with her, but have only read her penetrating coverage of the recent report of the DHS Inspector General, described in a previous blog. Read more...

U.S. Immigration Policy Often Rewards Failure

By David North, January 13, 2012

Many parts of U.S. immigration policy reward failure. This is usually not recognized.

Whether the failure is in the labor market, the investment market, or the marriage market, bits and pieces of our immigration system are there to shore up those who cannot make the grade.

The more-migration people, needless to say, avoid thinking about this truth.

Let me be specific.

Those Private Sector Immigration Lawyers: Part II

By David North, January 12, 2012

In an earlier blog I reported that a survey of immigration judges sitting in New York said that almost half of the private sector immigration lawyers they saw were not doing their job adequately.

In fact, the 31 IJs surveyed (of the 33 on that bench) said that 33 percent of the lawyers they worked with were inadequate at their jobs, and 14 percent were grossly inadequate, for a total of 47 percent. That's pretty damning. Read more...

DHS Inspector-General Writes a Stunning Report on USCIS

By David North, January 11, 2012

In rare act of political courage, the Acting Inspector General of DHS – Charles K. Edwards – has filed a scathing report on the inner workings of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The report, released in full on Monday and previewed in a recent blog of mine, discusses how the new leadership of that agency has pressured staff decision-makers to say "yes" to various immigration petitions, sometimes of a questionable nature. Read more...

Those Private Sector Immigration Lawyers: Part I

By David North, January 10, 2012

It is often said that the immigration system is broken.

The open-borders advocates use that phrase to mean that people who should be allowed to enter, cannot do so.

We restrictionists, on the other hand, use it to mean that people who should be kept out of the country are allowed to enter and to stay, when that should not happen.

These are both pretty straightforward policy observations about the utility of the immigration system.

But what about elements of the system that are broken in favor of one side or the other? Read more...