David North's blog

Within DHS, ICE Pressies Ignore USCIS Accomplishment

By David North, July 5, 2012

A couple of months ago, one arm of the Department of Homeland Security did the right thing — it re-designed a form it had been using for decades to make it less useful to fraudsters. This was done by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and was covered in an earlier blog of mine. Read more...

USCIS Quietly and Slowly Closed a Small Loophole in the Immigration System

By David North, July 3, 2012

This blog often criticizes USCIS for bending over backward to accommodate tiny to small classes of would-be migrants to the United States, such as the abused step-parents of U.S. citizens and "investors" in the Mariana Islands who were considered both rich enough to be investors, but too poor to pay USCIS fees, as can be seen here and here. Read more...

Here's a Switch – Marriage Fraud in Which the Alien is the Victim

By David North, July 3, 2012

Usually the alien comes out ahead (unless caught) in fraudulent marriage schemes, but an exception appeared in Upstate New York recently.

In the most common type of immigration-related marriage fraud, he (it is usually a male) bribes a citizen or a green card holder to enter into a phony marriage and the alien winds up with a green card for himself. The resulting divorce is mutually accepted. Read more...

USCIS Holds Pep Rally in a Glorious Building

By David North, June 27, 2012

Had the session been on a college campus you might call it a combination pep rally/bestowal of an honorary degree/lecture series/question-and-answer period.

But yesterday's event was off-campus, it was the USCIS session at the U.S. Institute of Peace, just off the Mall in Washington, DC, carrying the resounding title of "Partnering for Excellence: USCIS's First National Stakeholder Symposium". Read more...

Economists, Lawyers Tussle at USCIS EB-5 Meeting

By David North, June 25, 2012

It was one of those inconclusive, awkward Washington meetings that left everyone feeling frustrated.

To add to the tension, it was also a session in which government economists, with an unpleasant message for their audience, were speaking to a crowd of private-sector lawyers. The lawyers wanted both a more generous immigrant investor (EB-5) program and more precision in the procedures, and they seemed to feel that they got neither.

And while the host agency was USCIS, and the subject was an aspect of immigration policy, the words "immigrant" and "visa" were never spoken. Read more...

USCIS Hotline Gives Conflicting Answers on a Dream Scheme Question

By David North, June 21, 2012

It's a new program, so it's not surprising that I got a whole collection of different answers when I asked the USCIS hotline a specific question regarding eligibility for the new Dream Scheme program, the one offering deferred action to relatively young people currently in illegal status.

Not surprising, but not reassuring either.

Shouldn't We Drop Greece from the Visa Waiver Program?

By David North, June 20, 2012

It is not exactly a friendly gesture, but should not the United States drop Greece from our Visa Waiver Program?

VWP is for people from 36 prosperous countries who can come to the United States with their nation's passport and no screening by any American embassy. The notion is that they will spend money as tourists and only a sliver of them will stay illegally.

It makes sense for Brits, Germans, Japanese, and others, but should we give the same rights to the hard-pressed people of Greece, whose economy has collapsed and threatens to collapse further. Read more...

Some Details of the Dream Scheme Revealed in DHS Teleconference

By David North, June 19, 2012

Some additional details on the administration's new prosecutorial discretion amnesty were revealed in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) teleconference yesterday afternoon. Most were depressing from my point of view, but a couple were encouraging (within the grim context.)

The session involved relatively short announcements about the new amnesty by three ranking DHS officials and a long question-and-answer session with immigration lawyers and other advocates. Read more...

Plenty of Room for Fraud & Fuzz in Obama's Dream Scheme

By David North, June 18, 2012

There is plenty of room for both deliberate applicant fraud and deliberate administrative fuzziness (in definitions) in the White House's newly announced Dream Scheme. Read more...

Phony Military Frosting on the Dream Scheme Cake

By David North, June 16, 2012

Let me quote a flash from the White House that came over the Internet yesterday:

"BREAKING NEWS: President Obama just announced a long-overdue policy that gives legal status to young immigrants, including students and members of the military."

I have underlined the last four words because they are totally extraneous; window dressing, if you will, or, more harshly, a phony frill. Read more...

Contrasts Between the IRCA Legalization and the Administration's Dream

By David North, June 15, 2012

Today's announcement of an amnesty for some young illegal immigrants foreshadows tomorrow's administrative nightmares for the Department of Homeland Security, its staff, and for the large numbers of applicants, legitimate or not.

I say this based on the two years I spent watching every move of the legalization programs that were spawned by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. I headed a small staff monitoring that somewhat similar program for the Ford Foundation. Read more...

H-2B Exploiters Beat Obama Administration in Senate Committee Vote

By David North, June 15, 2012

The power of exploitative employers to derail any meaningful improvement in temporary foreign worker programs was shown again yesterday, when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 19-11 to postpone for a year the Obama administration's mild changes in the H-2B program. Read more...

DHS Wastes Money on Adult Toys (i.e., Drones), OIG Reports

By David North, June 14, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that DHS under-uses its pilot-less drones, and does so without sufficient planning or budgeting.

My sense is that DHS has fallen into the same trap as the Pentagon on a smaller scale and is infatuated with toys for adult males, in this case the drones. The wasteful nature of using (or having and not using) the drones was something I covered in a blog nearly two years ago. Read more...

Beyond the Hoopla — Older Immigrants Are Economic Disasters

By David North, June 12, 2012

We keep reading the publicity about the economic value of immigrants — and some of them are truly helpful — but when all is said and done and they retire, they are, as a group, economic basket cases.

The basic data for that conclusion, if not the conclusion itself, come from a report just issued by the Migration Policy Institute, the Washington, D.C.-based more-migration think tank. Read more...

DOJ Expands Gun Rights for Certain Nonimmigrant Aliens

By David North, June 11, 2012

The Department of Justice has used its power to define legal terminology to give a large class of nonimmigrant aliens gun rights that they did not have previously.

Whether intended to be one or not, it is simultaneously a victory for the more-guns people and the more-migration people, an interesting (and to me, depressing) two-fer. Read more...

Death Threats and Bond Defaults Linked to Different H-1B Programs

By David North, June 8, 2012

Death threats were linked in a court document to one major H-1B program and a $19 million bond issue default to another H-1B user, the latter according to this week's New York Times.

The death threats were made against Jay Palmer, the stand-up U.S. citizen who blew the whistle against Infosys, one of the largest of the Indian bodyshops in the H-1B business, and the bond default was announced by Wells Fargo, trustee of a series of bonds issued by three tax-supported charter schools run by the controversial Turkish Gulen movement. Read more...

Proposal: Let's Look at All the Foreign Worker Programs as a Whole

By David North, June 7, 2012

Let's stop looking at the nonimmigrant worker programs one at a time and instead address them as a worrisome whole.

That was the central idea presented at a meeting hosted yesterday by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive Washington think tank. Read more...

The 21st Birthday, Hailed by Most, but Dreaded by Some Aliens

By David North, June 6, 2012

One's 21st birthday is routinely a time for celebration. One is old enough to buy liquor and is regarded by most laws as an adult, with all its rights and responsibilities. When I was younger the birthday also meant that my peers and I could vote.

That birthday, however, is a day of dread for some aliens, because it marks the end of some migration rights that go to children, but not to adults. If you had a right to some immigration benefit that you lost on this birthday you have, in the jargon of the trade, "aged out". Read more...

USCIS Verbal Magic: "Immigrant Investors" Become "Alien Entrepreneurs"

By David North, June 5, 2012

For years USCIS has been using the term "immigrant investor" to describe the EB-5 program, which gives green cards to otherwise inadmissible alien families for making short-term, half-million-dollar investments in the United States, a subject covered in a recent CIS Backgrounder.

In late April, however, the agency decided to use the term "alien entrepreneur" instead, and Immigration Daily printed the USCIS document in question. Read more...

USCIS Does Right Thing on Some Applications, but Does Not Announce It

By David North, June 4, 2012

One of the ironies about the regulation of immigration is that when the government does the right thing it is usually silent about it; you only hear about it because of the screams of the immigration bar.

Alan Lee, a prominent immigration attorney, writing in the June 1 issue of Immigration Daily, bemoans what he regards as the rising rates of denials and other negative rulings in connection with nonimmigrant worker programs, trends I have not seen mentioned in any government press releases. Here are some of the figures, all based on USCIS statistics, that upset him: Read more...

Strange Numbers — Immigrant Investors Losing Interest in Green Cards?

By David North, June 1, 2012

Some strange numbers have just emerged from the government's immigrant investor (EB-5) program.

It looks like Obama administration efforts to lure more aliens into making half-million-dollar investments in exchange for green cards may be bringing in more initial money, but that, simultaneously, earlier investors may have decided they do not want the green cards or recognize that they do not qualify for them. Read more...

You're Good to Go, or Thoughts on Encouraging Emigration: Part II

By David North, May 31, 2012

As I argued in a previous blog, it is a good idea for the United States to encourage aliens to voluntarily return to their home nations.

It reduces the burdens of over-population and reduces our future welfare payments, all without coercion of any kind. Coerced departures (deportations) will of course still be necessary, but each of them is likely to be much more costly to the nation than the average assisted voluntary departure that I envision. Read more...

DHS Deals Citizen Grandparents Three Financial Blows

By David North, May 30, 2012

If you are a grandparent and one of your grandchildren is about to graduate from college and look for a job, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has just attacked your family finances in three significant ways:

  • It is taking money away from the fund that pays your Social Security;
  • It is taking money away from the Medicare fund; and
  • In some cases it is paying employers not to hire your grandchild, but to hire a foreign college graduate instead; the bonus to that employer for hiring the alien graduate can be as much as $4,950 a year (if the job pays $60,000 a year).

You're Good to Go, or Thoughts on Encouraging Emigration: Part I

By David North, May 29, 2012

One of the more rarely discussed elements in the whole immigration/population situation is the rate at which people, notably earlier in-migrants, leave the nation.

Obviously the departure of X persons cancels out the arrival of X persons, but the number of arrivals is usually the overwhelming focus of our attention.

My suggestion here is that more attention be paid to the encouragement of voluntary departures, in addition to the usual efforts to limit illegal arrivals and to cause forced departures of those who should not have arrived in the first place. Read more...

Two Ignored Immigration Policy Strategies: Diversion and Emigration

By David North, May 25, 2012

When discussing U.S. immigration policy, more than 99 percent of the discussion is about two Ds: denying entry to some would-be immigrants and deporting illegal aliens who are already here.

Limiting entries and forcing some exits are, of course, the most important parts of immigration policy, but there are two other rarely discussed approaches that I will cover here and in a future blog: diversion and emigration.

Both, if used with care, could reduce the growth rate of our population, if not reducing the total size of the population. Read more...

Golly, Did Italy Really Give Legal Status to 12 Million Illegal Aliens?

By David North, May 24, 2012

If you take a quick look at the bottom of the figure below you may come to the conclusion that Italy has legalized 12,170,000 illegal aliens.

That's a very large number, particularly in the context of that nation's population of 60,500,000 or so, and the estimates that we have 11 to 12 million illegal aliens in the United States, with a population more than five times that of Italy. Read more...

A Peculiar View of America's (Very Easy) Naturalization Test

By David North, May 23, 2012

Does one really need to worry about the reliability of the U.S. naturalization test when it is designed to be extremely easy (USCIS says that at least 92 percent of applicants pass the test)? One Michigan State University professor seems to think so.

There are 100 possible questions about America's history and its civics. The questions and the answers are both provided in advance.

Test takers are given only 10 questions drawn from the list and can miss four and still pass. (There are 10 sets of these questions and each set is designed to be comparable to the others.) Read more...

USCIS Ombudsman Wants to Help Incompetent Employers Hire Alien Workers

By David North, May 18, 2012

The policy tilt of the USCIS Ombudsman is perfectly clear: no matter what the rules are, No matter how many millions of unemployed residents of the United States there are, let's make sure that every possible alien worker is hired.

If an employer wants to hire a foreign worker rather than a resident one, there are certain basic requirements, like filling out some forms, and paying some fees.

It is sort of a low-level test: If you can't fill out the forms correctly you don't get the worker, and maybe, just maybe, you have to hire an American instead. Shocking, I know. Read more...

U.S. Sells Visas for Less Than the Net Worth of the Average U.S. Household

By David North, May 17, 2012

One of the bizarre elements of our immigrant investor (EB-5) program is that we sell visas for a sum that is less than the net worth of the average American household. Read more...

Another Bit of (Hidden) Good Immigration News from the Government

By David North, May 15, 2012

Every so often the administration does something useful in the immigration field, but it never stresses the fact.

Last month, I reported how it had changed a government form (I-797C) in a highly useful way to prevent fraud, but USCIS described it as a money-saving operation. Read more...