USCIS Announces H-2B Cap Reached

March 27th, 2007

“USCIS announced today that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the final six months of fiscal year 2007 (FY 2007). USCIS is notifying the public that March 16, 2007 is the “final receipt date”for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to October 1, 2007. The “final receipt date” is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the second half of FY 2007. The Cap was reached with existing totals received for that day. USCIS will reject petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates prior to October 1, 2007 that arrive after March 16, 2007.” USCIS Press Release, Mar. 23, 2007.

US Consulates Resume I-130 Processing

March 27th, 2007

According to a USCIS press release dated March 26, 2007, “U.S. citizens, including members of the armed forces, who live abroad, may resume filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with an American embassy or consulate in countries where there is no U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) international office.”  USCIS international offices will also continue to accept Form I-130 immigrant visa petitions without interruption for petitioner’s residing abroad.

Abuse in the Guest Worker Program

March 13th, 2007

According to the New York Times, the Southern Poverty Law Center has issued a report detailing abuse of foreign workers in the guest worker program.  The editorial states that before new guest worker legislation is enacted, we should take a close look at the current program to avoid such abuses.

According to Southern Poverty Law Center, in its report titled Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States – “Guestworkers who come to the United States are routinely cheated out of wages; forced to mortgage their futures to obtain low-wage, temporary jobs; held virtually captive by employers who seize their documents; forced to live in squalid conditions; and denied medical benefits for injuries.”

The report discusses abuses under the H-2 system administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, which is for the employment of temporary workers (seasonal, peakload, etc.) in the US. The program was created in 1943 to allow the sugar cane industry to bring in temporary workers and was expanded in 1986 to include non-agricultural workers.

In 2005, there were more than 121,000 temporary H-2 guestworkers, 32,000 H-2A workers for agricultural work and 89,000 H-2B workers for jobs in forestry, seafood processing, landscaping, construction and other non-agricultural industries.

THe SLPC report concludes that the H-2 guestworker program should not serve as a model for immigration reform, but instead should be overhauled if allowed to continue and it offers some concrete recommendations.  “Congress now has an opportunity to right this terrible wrong. As part of the reform of our broken immigration system, Congress should eliminate the current H-2 system entirely or commit to making it a fair program with strong worker protections that are vigorously enforced.”

Congress Moves Closer to Immigration Reform

March 13th, 2007

According to the Christian Science Monitor, lawmakers in the House and Senate are expected to introduce legislation for comprehensive immigration reform, and the legislation from both houses is likely to be more comparable than it was last year.  The legislation includes guest worker provisions and a path to citizenship for some 12 million undocumented workers.

Immigration advocacy groups feel confident that the conditions are the best they have been in two decades for comprehensive immigration reform.  However, lawmakers face obstacles ahead since they say they will need at least 20 Republican votes in the Senate and from 40 to 80 in the House to move legislation this year.

An increase in federal enforcement of employer sanctions, for employment of undocumented workers, on businesses that hire illegal workers, including high-profile raids, are attracting more business groups to support immigration reform.  

According to the Christian Science Monitor:  “In fiscal year 2006, the number of arrests more than tripled to 4,383, including 718 arrests for criminal offenses compared with a year earlier. In 2004, there were only 845 arrests. The push continues to accelerate. Three months into this fiscal year, ICE has already made more than double the criminal arrests that were made in all of 2005.”