Hello Everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week’s edition of immigration matters.
Immigration issues are on a roller coaster ride these days and it is difficult to keep up with all the new rules and proposals. We report on two significant developments that took place earlier this week. The first was President Bush’s announcement of a new Department of Homeland Security, which will house the INS among many other enforcement-related federal agencies. The second was the Department of Justice’s announcement to establish a registration and fingerprinting rule for certain nonimmigrants. New Department of Homeland Security
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will become part of a new Department of Homeland Security, along with the Customs Service, Coast Guard and other agencies. At present, the INS is part of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The enforcement and services functions, as well as visa processing function, will become part of this new department. Under this proposal, the enforcement and service functions would be separated. This is not the case under the current INS structure. However, it is questionable whether the new department whose overall goal is enforcement and security will be able to properly function with regard to granting benefits, even if that function is separate. It is possible that the new INS (or whatever it may be called) under the Department of Homeland Security, would have an enforcement emphasis, which could improperly find itself reflected in various services such as issuance of visas, green cards and citizenship. It remains to be seen as to how this new department would also administer the visa application and issuance process overseas, which has historically been within the domain of the State Department. DOJ Announces Proposed Registration Rule
Attorney General John Ashcroft, on June 5, 2002, announced that the DOJ is set to issue a proposed regulation requiring registration and monitoring of certain nonimmigrants. Under this new regulation, nonimmigrants from certain designated countries (such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan) and other noncitizens identified by consular officers and INS inspectors who meet certain profiles will be required to submit fingerprints and officially register at the time of their arrival. Thirty days after their arrival, and every year thereafter, these specifically targeted individuals will be required to appear in person at an INS field office and submit proof of residence and provide other evidence relating to their status in the US. Registered noncitizens will also be required to notify an INS agent of their departure from the US. The Attorney General stated that any person who fails to comply with these registration procedures would be placed into a criminal database, be subject to removal, and also possibly criminal prosecution.
Many groups and the media have already registered strong opposition to the DOJ’s proposal to register, fingerprint and photograph nationals of certain countries. This measure is a false solution to the real problem. It offers little protection against terrorism while subjecting individuals who come to this country to a lengthy and complicated procedure that will not make us safer. In fact, it will subject innocent people to arrest and deportation for failure to report on time to the authorities. One wonders whether a real terrorist would comply with these procedures. If this proposal is implemented, the DOJ will rely on secret criteria and racial profiling, rather than on any accurate intelligence gathered on individuals. Reports indicate that Muslims and Arab nationals are to be targeted, thus stigmatizing these nationalities and negatively stereotyping these communities here and abroad.
This measure is fundamentally flawed. Immigration is not the problem. Terrorism is. This can be prevented through enhanced intelligence capabilities, rather than the wholesale profiling of people of specific nationalities.
I hope you found this segment helpful and informative. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Cyrus D. Mehta & Associates, PLLC at 212-425-0555. The number once again is 212-425-0555. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in two weeks.