The American Immigration Council reported on a ruling from U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel, which temporarily enjoined three provisions of South Carolina Act 69 and found a fourth provision likely to be overturned in future proceedings. The ruling makes South Carolina the sixth state—after Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, Utah, and Alabama—to see major parts of a punitive immigration law blocked in federal court. Following its enactment last June, South Carolina Act 69 was challenged in court by both the federal government and a coalition of civil rights groups. Today, in a 42-page opinion, Judge Gergel entered temporary injunctions against the following provisions, finding each to be preempted by federal immigration law:
Section 4, which makes it a state crime to transport or harbor undocumented immigrants, or for undocumented immigrants to allow themselves to be transported or harbored.
Section 5, which makes it a state crime to fail to carry an immigration registration document issued by the federal government.
Section 6, which requires police to try to determine the immigration status of any person under investigation or arrest whom the officer has “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country illegally, and which makes it a state crime to possess or attempt to use a fraudulent identification to establish lawful presence in the United States.
As Judge Gergel explained, while local lawmakers have every right to disagree with the federal government’s efforts to set priorities in the enforcement of federal immigration law, their opinion “does not entitle the State of South Carolina to adopt its own immigration policy to supplant the policy of the national government.” Judge Gergel also found a fourth provision—the one making it a state crime to sell fraudulent identification to undocumented immigrants—to be preempted by federal law, but declined to issue a temporary injunction after finding the federal government would not face irreparable harm if the provision went into effect while legal proceedings continued. “Once again, a federal judge has confirmed what has long been settled: that states cannot enact their own immigration policies or interfere with the U.S. government’s efforts to enforce federal immigration law,” said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
Politico.com reported that Congress could be hampering economic growth by moving slowly on immigration reform. Illegal border crossings may grab the headlines, but the entrepreneurial spirit of foreign-born graduate students has become essential for job creation. Of the 50 top firms that received venture capital backing in the past three years, 46 percent include at least one immigrant founder, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Foundation for American Policy. “It’s clear that America gains a great deal when we’re open to talent, wherever that talent is born,” said the foundation’s executive director, Stuart Anderson. Each of the companies analyzed is privately held and valued at less than $1 billion, making them candidates to become publicly traded entities. On average, the 23 companies started by an immigrant that were profiled in the report employ 150 workers. Separately, 74 percent of all the companies surveyed have at least one immigrant working in management or product development. Current visa laws restrict the potential for immigrants to both study in the United States and start tech-based firms. Alex Mehr, a native of Iran who co-founded dating website Zoosk, struggled with an arduous multiyear journey to obtain the visas needed to start his San Francisco-based company. He first had to hitchhike through Turkey to receive a student visa to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. Later, he said he got his green card through a government lottery. Of the 14.7 million immigrants who applied this year to the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program for permanent residency, just 50,000 were picked through the lottery, according to the State Department. The visa situation for his co-founder became desperate enough that they considered moving their company to Canada, Mehr said. “We could not actually sponsor ourselves through our own startup,” he said. Congress has shown some understanding of the visa dilemma, with the House voting 389-15 last month to remove the per-country caps on employment-based visas. The measure, though, still has to clear the Senate. “It doesn’t solve the problem, but it does help the situation,” said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association. Lawmakers have tried to couple reforms that could resolve the situation with less-popular steps to address illegal immigration, Heesen said. “It’s difficult to see something” getting passed this year, he said. “The problem, up to this point, is the inability of Congress to divorce illegal immigration from legal immigration.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that immigrants founded or cofounded almost half of 50 top venture-backed companies in the United States, a new study shows, underscoring some of the high stakes in potential immigration reform. The venture capital community argues the study, completed by research group National Foundation for American Policy, proves the need to overhaul rules governing how entrepreneurs can immigrate to the United States to spur job development. “It’s a gamble whether an entrepreneur should stay or leave right now, and that’s not how the immigration system should work,” said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, on a call with reporters. “What we need is legislation that helps these entrepreneurs from outside the United States.” Of the 50 top venture-backed companies, 23 had at least one immigrant founder, the study found. In addition, 37 of the 50 companies employed at least one immigrant in a key management position such as chief technology officer. Companies with immigrant founders include some of Silicon Valley’s hot start-ups, such as textbook-rental service Chegg, founded by Indian Aayush Phumbhra and Briton Osman Rashid; online craft marketplace Etsy, founded by Swiss Haim Schoppik; and Web publisher Glam Media, founded by Indians Samir Arora and Raj Narayan. The countries that supplied the most founders included India, Israel, Canada, Iran and New Zealand, the study found, and the immigrant-founded companies created an average of 150 jobs. The study looked at the top 50 venture-backed companies as measured by research firm VentureSource, based on factors such as company growth and the amount of capital raised. VentureSource considered only companies valued at less than $1 billion. Young companies and their backers say the rules are too cumbersome and encourage non-U.S. citizens to launch start-up businesses elsewhere, or bog down companies in red tape if they commit to basing in the United States. One obstacle to the loosening of immigration rules for entrepreneurs is a tendency in Congress to consider legal and illegal immigration jointly, Heesen said. Because illegal-immigration issues are so divisive, he said, overall immigration reform has bogged down. The NFAP identified bills pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would help through measures such as lowering the amount of capital an entrepreneur has to raise before being eligible for an immigrant visa.
The American Immigration Council reported that earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Judulang v. Holder, overturning the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (Board or BIA) policy of restricting § 212(c) relief for many lawful permanent residents (LPRs) with old criminal convictions. Today, the Legal Action Center, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild are issuing a Practice Advisory that describes the Court’s decision and offers strategies for LPRs who are affected by it. Of particularly note, some LPRs with final orders may want to consider filing motions to reconsider within 30 days of the Court’s decision. Under the Board’s now-rejected policy, LPRs found deportable were eligible for § 212(c) relief only if they could show that the ground of deportation was substantially equivalent to a ground of inadmissibility. The Board’s policy, referred to as the “comparable ground test,” was announced in the 2005 decisions Matter of Blake, 23 I&N Dec. 722 (BIA 2005), and Matter of Brieva, 23 I&N Dec. 766 (BIA 2005). In its decision, the Supreme Court concluded that the Board’s policy did not pass the “arbitrary and capricious” standard under the Administrative Procedures Act. The Judulang Practice Advisory describes (1) the Court’s holding in Judulang and who is potentially affected; (2) steps that lawyers (or immigrants themselves) should take immediately in pending or already concluded removal proceedings involving such individuals; and (3) some other potential uses of the Judulang decision’s reasoning to challenge agency policy in removal cases. Filed under: Uncategorized
The Washington Post Reported that House Judiciary Committee members are putting the finishing touches on a proposal to help immigrants with advanced degrees in math and science secure the right to live and work permanently in the United States. The BRAIN Act would help highly educated immigrants secure green cards to live and work in the United States. During a speech Thursday in Washington, Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) outlined the BRAIN Act, short for Bringing and Retaining Accomplished Innovators for the Nation, which he expects to introduce either later this week or when Congress reconvenes in January. While the House Judiciary Committee is still hammering out specific details, the bill would essentially help secure green cards for foreigners who earn advanced degrees from accredited American universities and find employment opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math. “We are almost done, and we had hoped to introduce the bill this week” Griffin said during his speech on immigration reform. “But basically, if you’re here legally on a student visa, you get an advanced degree from an accredited university here in the United States, and you’re able to secure employment in the STEM fields, then we will put you on track to get a green card.” Lawmakers are still debating which advanced degrees to include in the proposal, though Griffin expressed confidence that the bill will include immigrants with master’s degrees, not just those with Ph.Ds. He also said the committee planned to reshuffle existing green card allocations rather than expand the number of green cards awarded by the United States, but had not yet determined exactly how many green cards to offer through the proposal and from exactly where to reallocate those slots. The congressman also joked that the committee had contemplated another name — the NERDS Act (New Employees for Research & Development and STEM) — but had settled on the BRAIN Act instead. Griffin emphasized that such legislation is essential to help the country bridge the gap between a growing number of STEM jobs available in the United States and a lagging number of Americans with advanced training in those fields. Americans, he said, should also understand that these foreign workers are not taking jobs from United States citizens, but rather filling positions for which the country doesn’t have enough adequately trained workers. “Over the long term, we may be able to change the culture of our country to encourage more people to go into those fields, and that would be great,” he said. “But in the short and medium term there is no way we can fill the void for these sort of grads.” New research released Thursday reiterates that such immigration reform measures would not drain jobs that would otherwise be filled by Americans — in fact, quite the opposite. During a presentation following the congressman’s remarks, Madeline Zavodny, an economics professor at Agnes Scott College in Georgia, showed that an increase of 10 immigrants with advanced degrees yields a 0.8 percent increase in employment among United States natives. That means for every 100 immigrants with advanced degrees that work in the United States, researchers see an additional 44 jobs for U.S. natives. Narrowed down even further, an additional 100 immigrants with advanced degrees in STEM fields from American universities is associated with 262 additional jobs for Americans. The same report also indicated that immigrants with advanced degrees pay far more in taxes than they receive in government benefits. However, under current immigration rules that Griffin called “puzzling,” the United States continues to send many of those skilled workers back to their home countries. “Particularly this time of year, I talk in football analogies,” the congressman said. “We’ve got a team and other countries have teams, and right now, we are going into other countries, we’re finding their best athletes, we’re bringing them here, training them and making them awesome, then sending them back to beat us. We have to stop that.”
The Associated Press reported that the Supreme Court stepped into the fight Monday over a tough Arizona law that requires local police to help enforce federal immigration laws — pushing the court deeper into hot, partisan issues of the 2012 election campaign. The court’s election-year docket now contains three politically charged disputes, including President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and Texas redistricting. The debate over immigration already is shaping presidential politics, and now the court is undertaking a review of an Arizona law that has spawned a host of copycat state laws targeting illegal immigrants. The court will review a federal appeals court ruling that blocked several provisions in the Arizona law. One of those requires that police, while enforcing other laws, question a person’s immigration status if officers suspect he is in the country illegally. The case is the court’s biggest foray into immigration law in decades, said Temple University law professor Peter Spiro, an expert in that area. The Obama administration challenged the Arizona law by arguing that regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not states. Similar laws in Alabama, South Carolina and Utah also are facing administration lawsuits. Private groups are suing over immigration measures adopted in Georgia and Indiana. “This case is not just about Arizona. It’s about every state grappling with the costs of illegal immigration,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, said following the court’s announcement Monday. Fifty-nine Republicans in Congress, including presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, filed a brief with the court backing the Arizona law. The immigration case, like the challenge to Obama’s health care overhaul, pits Republican-led states against the Democratic administration in an argument about the reach of federal power. The redistricting case has a similarly partisan tinge to it, with Republicans who control the state government in Texas facing off against Democrats and minority groups that tend vote Democratic. In the immigration arena, the states say that the federal government isn’t doing enough to address a major problem and that border states are suffering disproportionately. The issue has been widely discussed by the Republican candidates for president. They have mostly embraced a hard line to avoid accusations that they support any kind of “amnesty” for the some 12 million illegal immigrants estimated to be living in the U.S. Newt Gingrich was most recently criticized by his opponents for saying he would grant legal status to some with longstanding family and community ties, and Gingrich has since endorsed the South Carolina law that allows police to demand a person’s immigration status. That law is among the four state laws that have been challenged by the administration. Brewer signed the Arizona immigration measure into law in April 2010. The administration sued three months later to block it from taking effect. In April, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a federal judge’s ruling halting enforcement of several provisions of the law. Among the blocked provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants. In October, the federal appeals court in Atlanta blocked parts of the Alabama law that forced public schools to check the immigration status of students and allowed police to file criminal charges against people who were unable to prove their citizenship. Lawsuits in South Carolina and Utah are not as far along. The administration argued that the justices should have waited to see how other courts ruled on the challenges to other laws before getting involved. Still, following the court’s announcement Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “We look forward to arguing our point of view in that case when the time comes.” Spiro, the Temple University immigration expert, said the court easily could have passed on the Arizona case for now. “They could have waited for the more extreme case to come from Alabama, which really outflanked the Arizona law,” Spiro said. He predicted the court would uphold the police check of immigration status but perhaps not the measure making it a crime to be without immigration documents. Arguments probably will take place in late April, which would give the court roughly two months to decide the case Justice Elena Kagan will not take part case, presumably because of her work on the issue when she served in the Justice Department in the Obama administration.
- Uncategorized (255)