Archive for May, 2011

Supreme Court, Immigration and Xenophobia

May 27, 2011

In a 5-3 majority decision yesterday (Justice Kagan recused herself) the US Supreme Court held in Chamber of Commerce v. Whitting, that Arizona should keep the controversial bill to prohibit illegal immigrants from working.  They will have mandatory E-Verify requirement for every employer in Arizona. As expected the 5 Justices who voted for this are conservative Republican justices.

However look at who brought the lawsuit. Chamber of Commerce. Why? The Chamber of Commerce does not cry out for illegal immigrants from South America.  They care about businesses, and businesses in Arizona are hurting. There are some industries that simply willl not find Americans to do the job, and will be forced to relocate to other States. And Arizona will hurt economically.

Yet it is the Republican Justices who advocate for businesses. They bill themselves as the financial gurus, ruling harshly against individuals and pro business.  However when the question boils down to Xenophobia vs. financial interest, Xenophobia wins in the Republican and Conservative minds. 



Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information.

Caught between State and Federal

May 25, 2011

More and more States are trying to take immigration matters in their own hands and enacting punitive immigration laws for the illegal immigrants. This blog is not about illegal immigrants. This blog deals with how unnecessarily hard life is for legal immigrants, just because State agencies don’t understand Immigration Law.

You need a social security number for everything. And a valid Immigration Approval notice. So lets take the case of Client C.  He has an H-1B which expired on April 01, 2011.  He filed for an extension on January 01, 2011. He got the receipt notice which just says its a receipt notice. But according to immigration laws his status is valid.  He can work and stay in the US. However, come April 01, try and explain that to the driver’s license agents in any state.  They will simply not get a renewal. Without the car, it is extremely difficult for Cleint C to get to work.  But if he does not work, according to Federal Immigration law his status is not valid.  So yes, Client C has to get up at 4 am and take public transportation, cab or walk or bike to work.

Take the example of client B.  He came to the US and married. He files adjustment of status.  His wife cannot put him on any health insurance. He falls sick.  Now what? They cannot rely on State welfare for his disease. And most people simply cannot afford to pay out of pocket for medical costs.

These legal immigrants are being penalized simply because States do not like illegal immigrants. And if these States enact these laws, should they at least attempt to teach their personnel the Federal Immigration laws?

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information

Why I came to America

May 24, 2011

A place has a lot to do with developing people. It nurtures and fosters creativity and intellectual growth. Such was the case of impressionist Paris. Artists all over Europe converged. Art, architecture, philosophy blossomed in the cafes of Mont Marte. Same was true of Rabindranath era Kolkata. Poetry, Revolution against the British, Science, and even soccer saw their heyday in the 19th century Kolkata.

I was born though in the latter part of the 20th Century in Kolkata. A Kolkata where thoughts were stiffled, a Kolkata that was fast falling behind the rest of the Indian mileau. I went to an all girl’s Catholic school, and then to Presidency college, a college that had the repute of turning out scholars and revolutionaries. Yet, the 80s Presidency College I attended, with an English major, sought to stiffle my original thoughts.  If you wanted the grades, you had to conform to the pattern of writing that was “prescribed ” for you. Creativity had no place.

As was the case of most women in Kolkata at that time, I was never given a chance to develop physical prowess. No gyms, no biking. And of course, wearing a swim suit in public was out of question in my conservative family. How I cursed Kolkata when I wanted to learn, but found so difficult breathing in the water for swimming in the US.  It took me a whole three months before I could swim two laps without stopping.  Kids learn that in one week. 

On the emotional part, dating was frowned upon.  Even if it was allowed, you were never allowed to date more than one guy in your life time. So you better meet your perfect match on the first date, or be doomed to an arranged marriage, where the only thing that mattered was the guy’s education, ability to earn, family (ie no one was divorced, or had any bad reputation)and of course a perfect horoscope match.  I take that last one back.  You can bribe any priest in India, like most other things in India, and get that perfect match if your parents really wanted that match.

Yet with a billion people, things dont come easy in India. We had to work hard for the grades, and your social life depends on your standardized exam scores. Thus the value of education and hard work were ingrained in me.

So I journeyed across the ocean, and today I am proud to be an American. Law school taught me how to think analytically instead of conforming to a pattern. The society gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. I am still proud of the fact that I drove by myself from Canada to Rochester New York to see the lilac festival, a feat that Americans would take for granted shortly after I came to the US. And I can swim, run, bike, do whatever I want, in clothes that do not encumber these activities. When I see Indian women in my gym, wearing long pants and sweating like anything, I feel so glad to be an American, wearing shrots, without caring.

But also my drive to achieve and hard work propelled me forward. After graduating third highest in my law school, I practiced law, but also focussed my energy on raising my kids.  A combination of American thought and Indian work ethic led my children into ivy leagues and subsequently into med school. And that is the value of America, where the thought, culture and opportunity is mingled with the old world hard work and ethics.  The end result of immigration then is SUCCESS.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information.

Immigration Reform

May 10, 2011

Presedent Obama is in the border town of El Paso today, stressing Immigration Reform. The border towns of Texas has recently felt the violence of the drug war on the other side.  They have seen the deaths of relatives on the other side as well. And Americans, afraid of the drug war spilling over, attribute all crimes to Mexican illegal immigrants. They call for border controls. 

The Republican, in the Bush era bandied along the idea of building a wall along the border. But walls like the Berlin wall do not prevent immigrants spilling over. The human species is ingrained with the survival instinct, and if there are jobs on this side, they will come. And thus the 11 million illegal immigrants stay.  They have jobs.  They are not given driver’s license, they can be picked up and deported, they often undergo their bosses paying them next to nothing. Yet they stay. And they have children. Those children gets educated.  They fall sick. They get treated at our emergencies. They have no driver’s license, and hence no insurance. They hit our cars, we pay for the repair.  They make money, yet dont have to pay taxes. Just doesn’t make fiscal sense. 

The other segment that breaks my heart are the children of these illegal immigrants.  We educate them, yet we dont allow them the opportunity to work. Bills to legalize them, called the “Dream Act” routinely gets shot down in the Congress.  Recently Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, (R Tex) said she did not want to legalize these people, who will ultimately become citizens and then bring over their parents. Ok, so lets educate them, and then let them sit. And their mothers are already here. Lets keep them illegal. Why let them be productive and contribute to the economy.  Ratioonalization has never been a Texas trait.

However, to be fair, the Republicans do look out for business immigration. Nancy Pelosi (D, Ca)  had once said, that she would legalize all illegal people, but let H-1B employers pay for them with additional fees.  The H-1B small enmployers (those employing less than 25 employees) pay $ 1285/- per H-1B immigrant.  They employ legal non immigrants.  These small businesses would not pay this amount if they got American people who could do the job.  Requiring them to pay more would simply shut many of these small businesses down.  Also, many legal non immigrant, particularly those born in India and China are standing in line for years to get the immigration. Its simply not fair to grant illegal people immigration over these non illegal people as the Democrats propose.

Hopefully there will be comprehensive immigration reform, and thankfully it will not be as one sided as the health care bill.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information

Extraordinary Ability

May 6, 2011

The USCIS has just released a ‘Request for Evidence” (RFE) Template for officers to use in Extraordinary Ability cases. Hopefulluy now the process will be far more standardized and not depend on individual whims of the officers. (I once was given a RFE from the Texas Service Center asking me to prove that breast cancer research was national in scope for a National Interest Waiver. Dallas, breast cancer is not the Mavs).

The template spells out many of the misconceptions that I find dealing with Scientists, especially those born in India or China who want to file under EB-1. Also I find that Scientist who were not born in India or China, want to file under EB-1 (rather than National Interest Waiver EB-2) because it is a ego boost for them.

Here are some common misconceptions:

1. Grants and money awards are not awards of National and International repute.  Neither is poster award or any other departmental award. The award selection criteria has to be discussed, and the award has to be given to a national pool of people.

2. Just being member of an organization, where you can pay money and become a member is not good enough. For instance, most Immigration attorneys and I pay money to be memebrs of American Immigration Lawyer’s Association.(AILA). AILA does not require its members to have outstanding achievement. You just have to hold a law license, and pay the money.  This membership cannot be counted towards the Membership category of Extraordinary Ability. Moreover the membership has to be in the field of the researcher. So a Mensa Member would not qualify because it only proves that you are bright.

3. Evidence of High Salary —- The salary has to be higher than the average people in the field. Usually this is very hard for researchers, because most universities pay the same amount.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information.

Immigration and Xenophobia

May 1, 2011

A recent New York Times article traces the modern anti immigration movement to Dr. John Tanton.

The article points out that Dr. Tanton’s writing reveals that he believes in genetic supremacy of the white race. In fairness, the article also points out how pro-immigration crusadors are demonizing the entire anti immigration movement by pinning it on the supremacist views of Dr. Tanton. However, the anti immigration movement is NOT a centrist movement as their proponents claim. No immigrant (legal or illegal) is taking the job of any US Citizen.  Our laws make it very difficult to employ immigrants, legal or illegal. And no one will leave their country and come to the United States if they dont find jobs. And do these immigrants lower the wages? YOU BET. But thats the reality of a marketplace. If we artificially restrict movement of people and inflate our wages, then countries like China will simply fill the void. And if we restrict trade as well—- well, we will go back to the 19th Century society, and watch as the world turns.  We are one world now, and the world is a mouse click away. Lets just accept this and move on. If US Citizens want a job, compete just like immigrants do.

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information