Controversial Secure Communities Initiative Continues But Without Agreements with States

August 22nd, 2011

In an abrupt change of approach to a key immigration enforcement program, ICE declared in early August that it would continue its “Secure Communities” program but without memoranda of agreements (MOA) with state or local law enforcement agencies because ICE deemed them unnecessary. MOAs already in place were unilaterally terminated.  Under the three-year-old Secure Communities program, the FBI shares fingerprint data of people arrested by local (or state) law enforcement authorities with DHS so that it, in turn, can check for immigration law violations. Procedurally, the program has been criticized by some state and local governments for lack of uniformity, inconsistency, and confusion. For example, local authorities have been led to believe that the program is “voluntary” when in fact there is no mechanism for them to opt out. More substantively, the program has been criticized for netting low-level or non-criminal immigration violators – 60% of those arrested are not serious criminals according to ICE statistics – at the expense of local community policing efforts. Indeed, as reported in the Washington Post, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino assessed the program more bluntly, and wrote to ICE Director Morton that “Secure Communities is negatively impacting public safety.” Despite the criticisms, ICE plans to have the program in place nationwide by 2013.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

States Continue to Carve Out Piecemeal Immigration Law and Policy in Absence of Federal Approach

August 22nd, 2011

State and local governments continue to be the staging ground for real action on immigration reform while Congress does nothing. Conservative state legislatures have enacted draconian, restrictive immigration laws (Arizona, Alabama, Utah, Georgia, and South Carolina) that, in some cases, are winding their way through the courts, while other states have moved in the direction of enacting more liberal policies toward immigrants. Most recently, the governors of Illinois and California signed into law “DREAM Act” bills that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive private funds to attend state colleges and universities. The same issue will go before the Maryland electorate as part of a referendum in November 2011.  And the courts, state as well as federal, continue to enter the fray. In Texas, a district court recently barred the Texas Department of Public Safety from enforcing rules that denied driver’s licenses to immigrants living and working in Texas with valid work authorization.  In Georgia, a federal district court blocked key provisions of that state’s “Show Me Your Papers” law, granting a preliminary injunction in the suit filed by a coalition of civil rights groups and individual attorneys.

In the absence of a federal approach to immigration reform and continued congressional inaction which is expected until after the next presidential election, we can expect more of the same from state and local governments as they attempt to regulate immigration and address the strain our broken immigration system causes to their communities.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Immigration reform, Worksite enforcement policies

DOS Warns of Increased Diversity Visa Lottery Scamming

August 22nd, 2011

The Department of State advises of a notable increase in fraudulent e-mails and letters sent to Diversity Immigrant Visa program applicants. The scammers are posing as the U.S. government in an attempt to extract payment from lottery applicants.  Many of the fraudulent emails have elements that make them look legitimate, such as the DOS seal. For more information, click here.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Department of State, Lawful permanent resident

USCIS Launches I-9 Central Online

May 31st, 2011

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched I-9 Central, a new online resource center dedicated to the most frequently accessed form on USCIS.gov: Form I-9, Employee Eligibility Verification. The website provides employers and employees access to resources, tips, and guidance on completing the I-9 and understanding the I-9 process.

I-9 Central includes sections on employer and employee rights and responsibilities, step-by-step instructions for completing the form, and information on acceptable documents for establishing identity and employment authorization. The site also includes a discussion of common mistakes to avoid when completing the form, guidance on how to correct errors, and answers to employers’ recent questions about the I-9 process.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify, I-9

SSA Resumes Sending Out No-Match Letters

May 31st, 2011

In April 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed issuing thousands of so-called “no-match letters” to employers around the country. These letters inform employers that certain Social Security Numbers (SSN) provided by employees do not match the names of the individuals that SSA has on file for such numbers.  A “no-match” may be caused the use of a false or otherwise assigned SSN by an unauthorized worker. However, it may also be the result of an alteration to an individual’s status such as a name change or a simple typographical error.  

This issue is of considerable concern to employers with the recent increase in immigration enforcement aimed at companies employing unauthorized workers.

The new version of the “no-match” letter contains the name of one employee (rather than several employees as in the prior version) and does not include language warning the employer that failure to take action could be construed as constructive knowledge.   It does particularly advise that receipt of the letter in and of itself should not be the basis of adverse action against the employee.  Despite the change in language, it can still be considered by ICE in a potential investigation as indicia that an employer was aware of an individual’s ineligibility for US employment.

Our firm has counseled employers on employer sanctions issues and has represented employers in such enforcement proceedings since these laws were enacted more than 20 years ago.  We recommend that employers pay careful attention to no-match letters.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, I-9

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