HIV Waivers, Visa Lottery, and Worksite Enforcement

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Earlier this year, in September 2009, USCIS finally issued a memo bearing good news for thousands of HIV infected foreign nationals. Effective immediately, USCIS officers will no longer deny an application for a green card, if the only issue present is the applicant’s HIV status. Though they will not approve these petitions just yet, they will hold all these cases until there is a final rule issued by the DHS on the former HIV-based inadmissibility statute.

In other news, the DV Lottery period is upon us. The window to file your lottery visa applications is from October 2, 2009 until November 30, 2009. Remember that the government does not charge a fee to file lottery applications. You may file your own application and upload a photo directly on the internet by visiting www.state.gov. In the alternative, you could call our office – our processing DV-lottery fee is $100 per family.

The monthly Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2009 is out. It shows that the employment based third category of skilled workers has retrogressed by many years. Citizens of Mexico, China, India, and Philippines have even longer wait periods.

Finally, there is trouble for employers who hire undocumented foreign nationals. A local employer in Los Angeles will be firing over 1800 employees after a federal crackdown. The Obama administration is quite proud of its work which resulted in these job terminations at American Apparel. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the dismissals “devastating,” and his office has insisted that the federal government should focus on employers that exploit their workers.

American Apparel has been recognized by City and community officials for not exploiting their workers. They pay well above industry standards and also offer full benefits. However, the Obama administration, under pressure from Republicans has chosen to punish this particular company and use it as an example to dissuade other employers from hiring undocumented immigrants. No one, neither in the Federal nor in the State or local governments have any clue as to what will happen to the families of these laid off workers in this the most severe recessionary period since World War II.

The following paragraphs are from an article written by Julia Preston for the New York Times:

“The majority of workers losing their jobs [at American Apparel]are women, most of whom are working to support families. Many departing workers have been with the company for a decade or more.

Executives said many workers had learned skills specific to a proprietary production system that allows American Apparel to make 250,000 garments a week in Los Angeles, while keeping prices competitive with imports from places like China.

Some workers who are leaving said the company had been a close-knit community for them. Jesús, 30, originally from Puebla, Mexico, said he was hired 10 years ago as a sewing machine operator, then worked and studied his way up to an office job as coordinating manager.

“I learned how to think here,” said Jesús, who asked that his last name not be used because of his illegal status. The company provides health and life insurance, he said, and he currently earns about $900 a week, with taxes deducted from his paycheck.

Like many others, Jesús said his next move was to hunt for work in Los Angeles. He will not return to Mexico, he said, because he is gay and fears discrimination.

“There they treat you and judge you without even knowing you,” Jesús said. But he said several job offers from mainstream garment makers had been withdrawn once he was asked for documents.
“Being realistic,” he said, “I guess I’m going to have to go to one of those sweatshop companies where I’m going to get paid under the table.”

By pursuing American Apparel so aggressively, the Obama Administration has managed to achieve three basic goals:

Disrupt the lives of thousands of immigrant families in the Los Angeles area by taking away their livelihoods;

Reduce the amount of federal revenue – since most of these folks will no longer be paying taxes and will be working under the table;

Make it even harder for an American company to compete in the marketplace – and perhaps even force them to close their doors.

Well done, Mr. President!

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