A Hot and Hotter Summer for Immigration

August / September 2007Newsletters Legally Speaking

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As seen in the August/September 2007 Legally Speaking newsletter.

This has been the immigration summer not from the beach, but from a much hotter place.

In June, we celebrated that employment-based immigration visas in first, second, and third preference categories were current and that permanent residence was finally within reach for people who had been waiting patiently, or not so patiently, for years for this. There was a Green Card rush, a flurry of activity to have the documents prepared and filed as early as possible in July and before the filing fees doubled on July 30.

Then July came, and on the second of the month, the Department of State withdrew the Visa Bulletin that had caused the celebration and announced that no visas would be available in July and probably none would be available until October. Happiness turned to heartbreak and anger.

That lasted until July 17, when the State and Homeland Security departments reversed themselves (that's about as close as the government comes to an apology), reinstating the July Visa Bulletin for the balance of July and until August 17. So many of our clients were back to sprinting to file their applications for permanent residency (I-485s).

In the meantime, Congress failed to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Several states (Arizona, Colorado, and Tennessee, for example) have passed strict employment authorization compliance laws. Many municipalities had passed antiimmigrant ordinances, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania's ordinance was struck down, failing to pass the U.S. District Court's constitutional muster. That legal battle is just beginning.

The I-485 sprint is now over. It has been reported that the number of applications filed with USCIS in July is about six times the approximate 50,000 during an average month. (New York Times, Aug. 18, 2007)

Recently, I learned something new about the battle that is being fought over immigration reform. I was on a radio talk show with KDKA's Kevin Miller. I heard a lot of anger, some ugly, about immigration. The host and the callers, almost uniformly,want to round up the "illegals" and deport them as soon as possible. They view everyone who has an immigration infraction as "illegal." All illegals are perceived as being on welfare or are gang members or criminals, all of them are rotten, all 20 million (an exaggerated figure they use) are ruining the country for "us." According to my radio call-ins, "us" are native born citizens; we have rights and illegals have none; we pay taxes and they don't. We were going to take the law into our own hands, if the government won't enforce the law… The banter got even worse than that.

The immigration debate rages this long hot season, with no end in sight even as the summer cools into autumn.

Pittsburgh lawyer Robert S. Whitehill chairs the Immigration Practice at Fox Rothschild, a law firm with offices in seven states. If you have any questions about the information contained in Legally Speaking, or any legal matter, please contact him at 412.394.5595 or [email protected].