Monday, May 25, 2009

Washington or Bust?

The incomparably entertaining Rick
Sanchez, former Miami news anchor, not only got a great gig with CNN , but he’s done quite well since being somewhat giggled out of South Florida.  Recently, Rick anchored a piece  covering the changes in immigration
enforcement patterns being seen already in the Obama Administration.  It was a good story and I thought it was
worth a mention.

Basically, as we all saw, the so-called “First 100 Days” of
President Obama’s emerging legacy has been spent in large part with the
dismantling of former President Bush’s hodge-podge of ill-conceived
policies.  In the area of immigration
policy, it is notable that Mr. Obama has not only looked “within” (as in with
internal migratory policy) but also “without” (as in eliminating the
mean-spirited and just-plane-stupid restrictions which kept my 87 year old
mother from visiting her 89 year old cousin in Cuba because she was a
cousin…not a sister; sadly, as I was looking into FINALLY taking my mother back
to Cuba for one final visit, her cousin died, only days after the rule change.)

But what you care about . more than likely, is how Obama’s folks are
handling the “within” immigration issues…especially in the area of
enforcement.  As my employer clients are
well aware, I have written quite often about the incongruity seen in Bush’s
final months in office:  a
supposedly-business friendly administration out on an aggressive “seek and
deport” mission which left hundreds if not thousands of U.S. employers without
the workers they needed…and facing massive fines.  Companies like Tyson Foods were rocked to the
point of serious economic turmoil as a result of large scale raids targeting
those undocumented evil chicken pluckers, here to steal jobs away from the
American workers who covet them.

Trust me: you’ve eaten very few chickens which have been
plucked and processed by someone not having a Hispanic or Asian last name.

Well, according to Rick and his guest expert, the raids are
slowing down significantly and as the expert put it, it is “a good start”.  (I should point out that his opinion is in direct conflict with that of the corporate labor bar, which lives pretty in terror of the pro-worker policies they anticipate from the Obama Administration.)

But if Rick's expert was correct, it would appear that during this crisis of
unemployment a reduction in enforcement raids is politically risky for our new President.  Regardless, it is certainly the right thing to do.  Our current chaotic rules linking E-Verify with
random audits, nebulous I-9 enforcement policies and SSA “No Match” letters has devolved into that state which Jeff Foxworthy calls “sheer pandelerium”. 
Ignorance of the law IS an excuse when those enforcing the laws don’t
understand the law themselves, as is the case today.

Of course, the LAST thing the Obama administration wants is
more hysteria by the Glenn Becks of the world, so a publised policy of curtailed
raids will not be making the headlines anytime soon.  I have long said that if the government took
half the money it spends prosecuting undocumented but otherwise hardworking
unskilled laborers and leaving the businesses which have no choice  but to hire them
and spent that money teaching employers
how to readily comply
, it would be the beginning of the end of the problem.

The great irony if a reduction in raids is indeed what will happen:  the
President who has been absurdly accused of being "Marxist" by the most patently ignorant sectors of the neocon base has, with this subtle
change in policy, squarely proven himself to be the true friend of
beleaguered U.S. employers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

9 More Haitians Die en Route to the U.S.

The Miami Herald reported yesterday that 9 Haitian migrants (at least) died after their smuggler's boat capsized en route from Bimini to Miami.  This is the latest tragedy at sea and these tragedies will continue until the failed regional economic and immigration policies of past administrations - both Republican AND Democratic - are changed.  Specifically, the Obama team needs to:

-remove the disparity in the treatment of Haitian and Cuban refugees
-eliminate the absurd "wet foot/dry foot" policy
-commit to mitigating illegal migration from the Caribbean using the same tools we've used in Mexico for decades: trade incentives, tariff elimination, job stimulation programs and poverty reduction projects.

Haiti, our most desperately needy neighbor, gets as much U.S. attention as most distant African countries with similar poverty...out of sight, out of mind.  Cuba, with its catastrophic economic failures augmented by a 40+ year old U.S. trade embargo which has succeeded only in keeping U.S. interests from influencing the island (while Eurocapitalism,focused on tourism, cigars, jineteras and rum thrives).

Enough is enough already, Mr. President.  It is long past due time to get our regional house in order.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

EB-5: Yes, I really think there are better choices...

Yesterday I apparently offended a few folks with my comments regarding the EB-5 Visa. Most of the comments I got back are not printable -- hey, these ARE attorneys involved (-;. One gentleman expressed himself courteously, and his comments merit a response.Stephen Parnell is joint managing partner of Which EB5 (, an organization which describes itself in its press releases as "advocates of immigrant investors and have chosen to be independent from any regional center. They have worked with more than 800
families and more than 100 who have opted for an EB-5 regional center investment
visa". Mr Parnell wrote yesterday:

on earth can you call the EB-5 a scam? Are you not aware of the numbers of
investors who are currently seeing the return of their original investment?
Yes, the investment is at risk which is why very careful consideration has to
be given to the choice of regional center. Calling the program a scam is as you
call it "a flat out lie".

Stephen, I'll take those as you raise them:

1- The number of successful EB-5 investors is paltry in comparison to the number applicants. Honestly, how may of the 800 with whom you have worked have their permanent residency? This is not a debatable point but, rather, the subject of a 2005 GAO Report to Congress entitled "IMMIGRANT INVESTORS: Small Number of Participants Attributed to Pending Regulations and Other Factors."
The title is pretty self-explanatory and you can view the report in its entirely at:

I respectfully submit that it is impossible to read that report and argue that 900 families who were in limbo for over 10 years were better off with an EB-5 than with self-managed L-1-to-EB-1 immigration paths.

2- I am NOT aware of the number of investors who are seeing the return of their investment and would invite you to share that with my readers, Stephen. My experience is anecdotal -- and I suppose it is correct to assume that those who HAVE navigated the EB-5 program successfully would NOT be contacting me for help -- but that experience has been consistently my seeing people pour in a fortune into an investment and never seeing their green card. I invite you to share this info with me and I'll publish it but please include the numbers of those who have NOT seen a return in their investment to make the comparison valid.

3- Agreed: some Regional Centers have delivered while others have not. I am not aware of how this is being handled today, but in the 90's I was approached by a number of regional centers offering me "participation" in the form of hefty ($20,000+) fees if I "referred" clients. I blasted this practice in editorials, steered my clients AWAY from this, and watched as who knows how many lawyers quietly violated their bar oaths by pretending to be disinterested referrers when, in fact, they were being paid by an RC to send clients. Does that sound like a scam to you? It does to me, Stephen, and if any RCs are still giving commissions to referring attorneys, the scammers are BOTH the RCs AND the attorneys accepting the money.

For the record, Ifiled one of the very first independent EB-5s when the initial regs came out. The then-INS bungled and stumbled their way through it and while ultimately successful, it was apparent to me that it was NOT faster than a well-structured L and that the arbitrary establishment of both job creation and investment requirements. I've since steered dozens of would-be EB5 clients to L-1-to-EB-1 green cards since that first experience and not a one of them has had to put up a $500,000 investment to get their green card. So I stand by my opinion that the L-1 is a better solution for the vast majority of would-be EB-5 investors in cases where the investor has a viable business abroad.

That being said, I certainly didn't mean to call the entire program and everyone involved with it dishonest, Stephen, and I do apologize if that was the impression my rant gave. Ultimately, we are in agreement when you say that "very careful consideration has to
be given to the choice of regional center".
Yes, the EB-5 program is not a "scam". But there have been too many scammers, including commission-accepting attorneys, who have made the program problematic. When I do an L-1 for a client, he/she does NOT have to worry about avoiding fraudulent purveyors of visas. To me, the EB-5 remains the category of choice for those very limited number of clients who:

1- Have abundant liquidity
2- Have no active business in their home country and
3- Are not interested in doing business in the U.S.

Except for wealthy retirees, I haven't met many such clients.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The EB-5 "Guarantee" we go again...

In the early 90s, I expended a great deal of time and energy explaining to clients why the EB-5 was NOT the best solution for folks seeking to immigrate to the U.S. and having viable companies abroad.  The reasons are simple

1- The L-1 mechanism offers the same path to the green card at a fraction of the $500,000-$1,000,000 investment of the EB-5

2- The job creation requirements allow for vague interpretation by the government, as evidenced by the hundreds of cases where pilot program applicants were deemed NOT to have met said requirements and

3- The whole fundamental premise behind EB-5 pilot programs is a SCAM, and anyone who tells you that they can assure that your investment is not at risk AND meets EB-5 requirements is either totally ignorant of the statutory language or, in my experience with this category for the last 15 years, a flat out liar.

Save your money, folks.  Email me and I'll show you how we can "L" your way to America on a proven path with a small fraction of that investment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Are There So Many CRUMMY Immigration Attorneys?

I haven't written here in awhile and I hate to get back in the saddle via a RANT, but I am seriously upset: in the past two days, I have been approached by not one, not two, but THREE prospective clients sharing the same basic problem: their otherwise straightforward immigration case has been disemboweled and trashed by a licensed Florida attorney with absolutely no fundamental understanding of U.S. immigration law.

This is all part of a dark trinity which South Florida immigrants have long faced:

  1. The tragic belief that countrymen will not rip you off (when, in fact, it is most often Colombians who rip off Colombians, Chinese who rip off Chinese...the nature of the con game...remember: "con man" is short for "confidence", and upon this they prey.)

  2. The legal pandemonium that is Miami, where immigration is perceived as a profitable sideline by attorneys who have not a shred of knowledge about federal immigration laws and

  3. A population of illegal or semi-legal immigrants too eager to believe in "shortcuts" and "inside connections" as a result of their own cultural backgrounds.

The saddest part is that in each of these three cases, a competent immigration attorney would have easily obtained the needed approval.  Instead, I am facing three tangled Penn Senator reels of absolute incompetence, chaotic birds' nests of convoluted support letters, improper petitions, and gaps in status.

If I was Immigration Judge Dread Florida Bar licenses would be shredding like confetti these days.  Grrr.