Friday, December 12, 2008

New rules for temporary farmworkers announced

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) published changes to immigration regulations that will "streamline the hiring process of temporary and seasonal agricultural workers." These workers come to the US in H-2A status, however employers have long complained that the process is so cumbersome that the growing season is over before the workers get the visas to come here. One reason for the delay is the fact that the Department of Labor has to certify that there is a shortage of US workers available. This procedure is, unfortunately, not made any easier by the new rules.

Immigrant rights advocates complain that the new rules do not allow undocumented workers who are currently in the US to apply for the visas. Why don't they just go home and apply? Because if they leave the US, they are subject to 3 or 10 year bars on returning, in most cases.

The changes to the H-2A regulations include:
• Relaxing the current limit on H-2A employers to petition for multiple, unnamed agricultural
• Extending from 10 days to 30 days the time a temporary or seasonal agricultural worker may
remain in the country following the expiration of his or her temporary H-2A stay;
• Reducing from 6 months to 3 months the time an H-2A worker who has spent 3 years in
the US stay outside the US before s/he cat get H-2A status again;
• Allowing H-2A workers, who are changing from one H-2A employer to another H-2A employer, to begin work with the new petitioning employer upon the filing of a new H-2A petition, IF the new employer is participating in USCIS’ E-Verify program;
• Prohibiting H-2A employers and recruiters from imposing certain fees on prospective H-2A
workers as a condition of employment;
• Requiring an approved temporary labor certification in connection with all H-2A petitions;
• Requiring employers to notify USCIS when H-2A workers fail to show up for work, complete the work more than 30 days early, are terminated, or abscond from the worksite; and
• Permitting the approval of H-2A petitions only for nationals of certain countries designated as
important to the operation of the program and appearing on a list to be published annually in the
Federal Register. The initial list of participating countries to be published simultaneously with
this Final Rule includes Mexico, Jamaica, and 26 others.

For an article on NPR's Morning Edition:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homeland Security reality TV show. Seriously.

My jaw dropped last night when I saw an ad on TV for a new ABC reality show: "Homeland Security USA." The show starting in January, and will focus mostly on the work of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It will also show other agencies, including the other immigration agencies.

The first episode, called "This Is Your Car on Drugs," will highlight the work of CBP at LAX Airport, a Blaine, Wash. U.S.-Canada border crossing, a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border near Tucson, Ariz. and another border crossing at San Ysidro, Calif. It also will highlight an incident involving barbecued bats at the International Mail Center in Carson, Calif. Yeuch.

"It’s kind of a combination of the two most popular shows on TV, 'Cops' and '24,'" said David Heyman, director and senior fellow of the Homeland Security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This I have to watch........

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Uncle Sam wants nonimmigrants

The Defense Department wants to enlist legal immigrants with critically-needed skills into the military. This pilot program is aimed at health care professionals holding needed medical specialties (physicians and nurses) and people with skills in strategic foreign languages and cultures, qualifications that are important to present and future military operations. The DOD has long allowed legal permanent residents to enlist. This program now allows nonimmigrant (temporary) visa holders to enlist, provided that they have lived in the US for at least 2 years.

Accelerated citizenship is available to people who serve the nation by joining the military during a time of war.

More information here: and here:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Obama citizenship fight ends

The US Supreme Court has rejected a claim that President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to serve as President because he had dual nationality at birth. The US Constitution requires presidents to be "natural-born citizens", i.e. born on US territory, not naturalized later. President-elect Obama was born in Hawaii, thereby qualifying him as a "natural-born citizen." Other lawsuits allege that his Hawaii birth certificate is fake. However independent bodies, including the nonpartisan, believe it is genuine.