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    Justice for Immigrants urges action following cloture vote

    Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

    The immigration reform bill which was reintroduced in the US Senate has passed the first of many hurdles; yesterday the first cloture vote to proceed passed by a vote of 64-35.  The Justice for Immigrants campaign has issued an alert urging all Americans to call their senators.  Here is the text of the alert:

    TAKE 5 AND CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY!
    Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office now.Ask them to:
    Support family-reunification amendments

    • Amendment # 1199 (Dodd): This would increase the number of visas that are available for parents of U.S. citizens, and would extend the number of days each year that non-immigrant parents could visit families in the United States.      
    • Amendment # 1317 (Menendez): This would modify the point system to give greater weight to family ties for green-card applicants.  Family members could receive up to fifteen points in their application, rather than the ten points that would currently be given to family members in the base bill.

    Support a workable legalization program

    • Amendment # 1236 (Baucus-Tester): This amendment would strike provisions that make the bill’s legalization program dependent upon the systematic implementation of REAL ID documents.  Several states have already passed laws rejecting to implement REAL ID; additionally, best estimates are that this program would take many years and billions of dollars to execute.  This amendment would set more realistic goals and expectations for when the legalization program could take effect.

    Oppose provisions endangering vulnerable immigrants

    • Amendment # 1473 (Coleman):  This is a slightly modified version of an amendment that was narrowly defeated in this year’s Senate immigration debate.  In spite of these changes, the amendment would still prevent local law enforcement officials from choosing to afford certain protections to vulnerable immigrants who are preyed upon by criminals. 

    Visit the Justice for Immigrants campaign.

    Limerick man’s visit home results in US visa trouble

    Monday, February 26th, 2007

    A 35-year-old Limerick native has been prevented from returning to his pregnant wife in Iowa by US immigration authorities. Jimmy Murphy of Newcastle West has been married less than a year to Iowa native Rachele Murphy; he was employed in the US and had applied for adjustment of status, which he was told would take nine months. He had all his papers in order when the couple decided to take a New Year’s trip to Ireland; Mr Murphy was detained at Dublin Airport because he had breached the terms of his status upgrade application.

    Attempts to resolve the situation have so far failed. The US embassy in Dublin no longer has the authority to process the case, and Mr Murphy has been told he needs to present himself to authorities in the US, although he has been prevented from re-entering the country. Local officials are hoping that Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern may assist in resolving the issue.

    Mr Murphy told the Limerick Leader:

    “My wife is three months pregnant. We were starting off on a new life, with our first child on the way and had never been happier. I had always had my papers in order. The packet of documents which I had received when applying for adjustment of status did not say that I was to remain in America while the application was being processed. The first I knew was when I was turned back at Shannon.”

    See the Limerick Leader for the full report.

    US immigrants face application fee hikes

    Friday, February 2nd, 2007

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this week announced proposals for major hikes in application fees. The increases, in some cases amounting to 500%, are expected to go through in June.
    The proposed application fee increases include:
    - $905 for a green card application; thecurrent fee is $325.
    - $1,370 for adjustment of status from temporary to lawful permanent resident, up from $180.
    - $340 for work authorization, up from $180.
    - $595 for naturalized citizenship, up from $330.
    - $290 to replace a lost or stolen green card, up from $190.

    “We’re confident that this fee adjustment will enable the type of exceptional immigration service our nation expects and deserves,” said a statement from USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez on Wednesday.

    Immigration advocates, however, say the price hikes will pose a significant obstacle for many immigrants.

    The proposals are subject to a public comment period; to comment, visit www.regulations.gov; use the “agency? box to click on “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? and hit “submit?. You will then be shown the document, “Adjustment of the Immigration and Naturalization Benefit Application and Petition Fee Schedule?. Click on the “Docket ID? to read the comments submitted, and “Document ID? for instructions on making a comment.

    Visa mixup puts South African resident in jail

    Sunday, November 26th, 2006

    An Irish golf instructor who has lived in South Africa for five years spent 12 days in jail in a visa mixup, according to the South African Sunday Tribune. David Graham was in the process of applying for a visa extension when he was arrested in June in Durban. Immigration officials had misread a figure on his documentation and concluded his paperwork was invalid.

    Graham was told he would be deported, and was sent to jail; although he was informed he would be put in the prison’s immigration section, he was instead put in a cell with murder suspects. Graham says he bribed fellow prisoners in order to survive; South Africa’s Home Affairs department took four days to find him because he was in the wrong section of the prison. His own lawyer did not know how to find him.

    Graham was finally granted bail in August; his case was dismissed in October. The newspaper reports that a department of home affairs spokesperson said they were investigating the matter.

    Read the full story on iol.co.za.

    Minister proposes US-Ireland visa exchange

    Friday, October 27th, 2006

    Tony Killeen, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has said he supports the idea of establishing a programme that would legalise undocumented Irish workers in exchange for giving Irish work visas to Americans. Mr Killeen was speaking after returning from the FAS Jobs event in the US. He said he would raise the idea with his colleagues in the coming weeks.

    Mr Killeen supported his idea with the fact that there were 4,300 Americans who immigrated to Ireland in search of work in 2005, while only 1,700 Irish recieved work visas. The government estimates that there are 30,000 to 40,000 undocumented Irish workers in the US. Mr Killeen said, “There is clear evidence to support the establishment of some form of bilateral agreement between the US and Irish governments”. He added,

    “A large percentage of those in attendance at the FAS Jobs Ireland Exhibition in New York were American. The interest expressed by Americans to come and work in Ireland was so great that a queue more than two and a half blocks long formed outside the Exhibition venue. In less than 15 years Ireland has gone from being the sick man of Europe to one of the most dynamic economies in the developed world. Irish incomes now exceed the European average, resulting in emigration being replaced by immigration. It is perfectly feasible to suggest that some form of working agreement can be pursued where the status of the undocumented Irish is regularised while work permits are offered to Americans seeking employment in Ireland. I hope to raise such a proposal with my colleagues over the coming weeks.?

    Mr Killeen also announced the details for a new “Green Card” system for entry into the Irish labour market. The two-year visas will apply for an extensive list of occupations paying more than €60,000, and a smaller list of jobs paying between €30,000 and €60,000. Sectors involved include IT, healthcare, construction, financial services, and biotechnology.

    Read the press release for more information.

    Australia targets Ireland in global campaign for workers

    Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

    Australia is holding an event in Dublin as part of a global campaign to attract 100,000 skilled workers to the country. Similar events are being held in Britain, the US and South America. The are targeting workers who are under 45, have good English, and have qualifications and/or work experience in several occupations in demand; occupations on that list include a wide variety of professions and trades. http://www.immi.gov.au/skillexpos/

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