Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Immigration Rights | Congressmen from Washington State

On April 7, 2011 I had the pleasure to visit Washington DC, a city full of picturesque monuments, diverse faces, and people in suits.

I feel proud to be American. To be fair, every country has its positive and negative qualities, much like a real person. But America, at its finest, is a living and breathing beacon of freedom. We elect our representatives to make the laws, elect the President to enforce the laws, and we appoint Judges to interpret the laws.

I traveled with seven other AILA attorneys who practice immigration law to speak with Washington State Congressmen about immigration policy. This was part of a nation-wide effort to inform our representatives who make our immigration laws.

We met with staff persons from almost every Congress person, except McMorris Rodgers, Republican from the 5th District centered around Spokane, and Jaime Beutler, Republican from the 3rd around Vancouver, Washington.

The feeling from each individual Democrat staff was that immigration is an important issue that affects the economy, security, and our values, but it's not high on the "to do" list. Comprehensive immigration reform will not likely take place until after the 2012 elections.

We cited highly specific examples to describe to each individual Congress representative about how our immigration laws need refinement. For example - just one of many - the amount of business visas have not changed for decades. The US is not able to grant enough visas to highly qualified immigrants that create jobs, which harms the economy. The lack of availability for visas for family members is just a dire. In some cases a family member must wait 20 years before being able to lawfully immigrate into the US to be with a relative.

In all, immigration issues are not going away. The sooner the government is able to address immigration policy wisely, the better.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Immigration Rights | Citizenship Day Is A Worthy Event

To address the value of Citizenship Day, here is a letter to anyone with state budget-making authority:

I am a lawyer who has volunteered for Citizenship Day events in Pasco, Tacoma, Aberdeen, and Vancouver, Washington. These day-long events naturalize low-income immigrants.

Many voices support these events because they encourage lawful permanent residents to become US citizens, which is essentially encouraging responsible citizenship.

For the purposes of this response, I voice my support for those who work on behalf of the immigrants. Citizenship Day is not just about rewarding green card holders, but it also rewards the attorneys, paralegals, students, community groups, and New Americans and OneAmerica participants.

Volunteers benefit from effective training workshops for attorney, paralegal, and intake participants. Veteran attorneys mentor the newer attorneys and paralegals, which help newer volunteers grow into more responsible and knowledgeable resources.

The idea in America is that the more educated you are, the easier it is. Yet, because of a slumping economy, many lawyers and other individuals in the legal world are currently struggling to make a living. I am a chair for the state American Immigration Lawyers Association and I meet numerous talented, driven, and compassionate new attorneys who are reaching out to populations like immigrants that are in great need, and are very thirsty to secure jobs and experience.

Citizenship Day events benefit the professionals and workers who assist immigrants, not just the immigrants themselves. The events attract a diverse scope of generous people who donate their valuable time because they care about the future of the United States. Please keep this program alive and do not cut New Americans or OneAmerica's budget.