Vote NO to SCA 5

Nowadays California politicians can do nothing to surprise me anymore. The fight to stop their idiotic Co-Ed Bathroom Law isn’t over yet, and now they’re pushing for SCA-5.

If you don’t yet know what SCA5 is all about, below is a Change.org petition with some background information. Basically, SCA5 wants to add race as a factor for college admission.

As an immigrant and minority, I prefer a level playing field. Whether it is going to college or looking for a job, I want my children to be able to compete with their character, dedication and abilities, not the color of their skin. Racial preference is never a good thing in the long run, no matter how sugar-coated it is.

Dear California State Assembly Members,

1/30/2014 marked the darkest day in California’s recent history of politics. On this day, the California Senate approved SCA-5, which would appeal provisions of Prop 209 and allow the State of California to discriminate an individual or group’s rights for getting public education on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

To understand SCA-5, we have to remember what Prop. 209 is. In November 1996, Proposition 209 (also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative) amended the state constitution to “prohibit state government institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, specifically in the areas of 1) public employment, 2) public contracting or 3) public education.” In the 18 years that Prop 209 has been in effect, California has become the most diversified state in the US. Also, comprehensive measures have been introduced to help students from disadvantaged families to obtain higher education, which have our full support.

Now SCA-5 seeks to REMOVE any mentioning of “public education” in Prop. 209. This will roll back the clock to unfairly discriminate a student simply based on her/his race. If it succeeded, what will be the next in its supporters’ mind to be removed among the the rest two areas (public employment and public contracting) in Prop. 209?

The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution clearly states that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The SCA-5 is wrong and in violation of the US Constitution.

We hereby urge you to vote NO to SCA 5!

One Day, Sanity Will Return to California

In an earlier post I said that California politicians are really good at passing stupid laws. They wasted no time to present a perfect example: CA Co-Ed Bathroom Law.

AB 1266, signed into law by Governor Brown two months ago, allows K-12 students to use either boys’ or girls’ bathroom at school, simply based on their “self-identification.” Yes, a high school boy can one day decide he’s female and start using girls’ restrooms, showers and lockers. Under the law, he has a right to join a girls’ sports team too. The next day, he can change it back to be a boy if he feels like it. There is no requirement for medical proof, or official approval – just whatever a student feels at the moment.

When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke. I couldn’t believe anyone would even come up with an idea like that. But liberals in California not only proposed it, but managed to enact it into law. They claim it is for the protection of transgender kids. They pretend none of the existing anti-discrimination laws work. And they completely ignore the privacy of millions of other children!

Enough is enough.

At some point, you just have to stand up and say no to these guys.

Fortunately, there are a whole lot of people who feel the same way. Privacy For All Students, a non-profit organization, is fighting to overturn AB 1266. They are collecting signatures from CA registered voters for a referendum. If enough petitions are signed before November 8th, AB 1266 will be put on this year’s ballot and its fate will be determined by voters. If you’re a concerned parent, this is the last week to sign the petition and please act now.

Quick Survey on Government Shutdown

With the government shutdown heading into its second week, we’ve heard news reports on visitors blocked out of national parks, people cancelling their wedding plans, but what about immigration? Have you noticed anything that is affecting your visa, green card or citizenship application? Please let us know:

Impact of Government Shutdown on USCIS and Other Immigration Agencies

It is official: The United States government is shutting down. Last-minute negotiation, or the lack of it, wasn’t able to bring the two parties together and as a result, about 800,000 government workers will be sent home without pay tomorrow. Although it sounds ridiculous to a lot of people around the world, a government shutdown is actually not that uncommon in the US: This is only the 18th time!

During the shutdown, essential government functions will continue as usual, such as homeland security, law enforcement and air-traffic control. Non-essential activities will be greatly reduced. The impact on immigration agencies will vary. We have listed below some contingency plans issued by the government and will continue to update this post as we learn more, or until the fiasco is over:

1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
USCIS is primarily funded by application fees, so its operation doesn’t depend on the Annual Appropriated Funds. The government shutdown therefore has minimal impact on USCIS. According to the DHS contingency plan, 12,205 of USCIS’ 12,558 employees (97%) will be retained during the federal funding hiatus. It is expected that green card petitions and visa applications will continue to be accepted and processed as usual. However, since immigration processes may involve several different agencies and some of them may be affected by the shutdown, it is possible that there will be further delays.

All USCIS local offices remain open.

E-Verify has been taken offline and is currently unavailable. To minimize the impact on both employers and employees who need the E-Verify service, temporary policies have been put in place during the shutdown.

2. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
CBP is slightly more affected by the shutdown as compared to USCIS, with 6,888 employees (out of 59,561 or roughly 12%) being sent home. Border inspection at ports of entry are expected to operate normally.

3. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
According to DHS, 4,016 ICE employees (out of 19,810 or 20%) will be affected by the government shutdown. Essential law enforcement activities will continue without interruption.

4. Office of Foreign Labor Certification (Department of Labor)
According to the OFLC contingency plan, the labor certification process is practically suspended. This is going to have the biggest impact on the legal immigration process:

OFLC functions are not “excepted” from a shutdown and its employees would be placed in furlough status should a lapse in appropriated funds occur. Consequently, in the event of a government shutdown, OFLC will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses) it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC’s web site, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts.

5. Visa Issuance at Embassies and Consulates (Department of State)
The Department of State will continue passport and visa operations as well as provide critical services to U.S. citizens overseas.

6. Diversity Visa – Green Card Lottery (Department of State)
DV-2015 started on October 1st, 2013 and so far appears to running as planned.

7. Visa Office (Department of State)
November 2013 visa bulletin was released on schedule and it is likely that future visa bulletins will too.

8. Passport Services (Department of State)
The Department of State will continue passport and visa operations as well as provide critical services to U.S. citizens overseas. Processing time for passport applications remain at four weeks or less for routine service and two weeks door-to-door for expedited service.

9. Immigration Courts (Department of Justice)
Immigration courts nationwide are continuing to adjudicate detained cases. Court functions that support the detained caseload will continue, but other functions are suspended. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is processing emergency stay requests as well as cases where the alien is detained, including case appeals, motions, federal court remands, and bonds. The stay line is open (for emergency stay calls only), but all other telephone lines have been switched to closed status. The BIA Clerk’s Office staff is accepting all filings and will be open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Law of Inertia

Growing up in a country where my vote meant nothing, I was indifferent to politics. I watched political drama unfolding in front of my eyes, but only from a distance. I felted there was little I could do and hoped time would eventually take care the problems.

My belief came with me to the United States. Indeed, I saw the same tricks, broken promises and outright lies from politicians and wanted to stay away from them. But it all changed in recent years. I started paying more attention to political debates between Democrats and Republicans. I started to learn more about the key differences between Liberals and Conservatives. And more importantly, I started to engage in conversations and participate in social movements.

Why?

First of all, I have children now. As much as I can tolerate ongoing issues around me, I want nothing but the best for my children. I want to see them live in a better society when they grow up, and after I’m long gone. This is what pushed me over the hump. This is what woke me up.

Secondly, I realized that my vote actually means something, and my voice does make a difference.

Thirdly, I’ve seen California, a state I’ve been calling home for nearly 15 years, going downhill ever since I moved here and showing no sign of stopping. CA politicians, in my opinion, are really good at two things: spending money and passing laws. They are even better at spending someone else’s money and passing stupid laws. My frustration grew every year and I couldn’t afford to ignore the situation any longer.

Another turning point for me was the discovery of biased media reporting. Again, coming from a country where every media outlet was controlled by the government, I had a tremendous amount of respect for journalists in the United States. They played a big role in a system of checks and balances, and at least helped keep the government at bay. To some degree, they still do. However, the main stream media’s reporting of some recent events has completely shattered my trust in them. Instead of seeking truth and reporting it, they relentlessly try to push their own agenda, and don’t even attempt to hide their bias. They pick which facts to present, select which side to interview, and conveniently reveal only information supportive of their own view. It doesn’t have to be this way.

However, I have no intention to turn ImmigrationRoad.com into a political platform. Since inception our site has focused on helping legal immigrants navigate through a maze-like system, and will continue to do so. I’ll find other venues to voice my concerns.  I’ll join the like-minded elsewhere. All I know is that I came all the way here to pursue something; I don’t plan to see it disappear forever.

Newton’s first law (“the law of inertia”):

An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force.
An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Top Colleges Limiting the Number of Asian Admissions

I received an email today from S.B. Woo, President of the 80-20 National Asian Am. Educational Foundation, with an open invitation to comment on a NY Times debate with regard to top colleges intentionally limiting the number of Asian students. Ivy League schools strongly deny it, which means that even they think the policy is wrong, if it exists. However, it is quite obvious that Asian students must do exceptionally well, compared to their peers, in order to attend the nation’s elite universities.

Below is a partial excerpt of the email from 80-20, and a link to the NY Times article where you can comment on the topic:

Subject: What Price for Limiting Asian Enrollment?

From the get-go I want to state that (1) there is irrefutable
evidence that top colleges are limiting the number of Asian
admissions, and (2) what’s at stake is not a few more admissions
for Asians, but the much larger interest of America.

First, look at the following 3 facts.

(a) Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade reported in his 2009
book: “To receive equal consideration by elite colleges, Asian
Americans must outperform Whites by 140 points, Hispanics by 280
points, Blacks by 450 points in SAT (Total 1600),”

(b) Asian Americans are not just good test takers. For example, in
2006, they were 27% of Presidential Scholars, who were chosen
based on scholarship, service, leadership, and creativity, and

(c) See a powerful chart published by Ron Unz in The American
Conservative.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

PLease go DIRECTLY to NY Times’ website to express your view.
Now is the time to speak out!!!
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/19/fears-of-an-asian-quota-in-the-ivy-league
Please spread the word on Facebook, twitter, etc.

Startup Visa Bill to Help Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar introduced legislation today that is going to reward immigrant entrepreneurs who can create jobs with green cards.

Titled “Startup Visa Act of 2010,” the bill will grant a two-year conditional visa to an entrepreneur who can secure $250,000 or more for his/her start-up venture from a qualified U.S. investor. After two years, if the company has generated at least five full-time jobs in the U.S., attracted additional $1 million, or achieved at least $1 million in revenue, the immigrant founder will be able to remove the conditions and become permanent resident (green card). Continue reading “Startup Visa Bill to Help Immigrant Entrepreneurs”

USCIS I-485 Tracker for Green Card Applicants

Update 11/11/2009: USCIS did release pending I-485 data, but in a pdf document. We have turned it into an immigration tracker. Check it out!

USCIS is getting ready to launch its immigration tracker, maybe as soon as late September!

Aneesh Chopra, the first U.S. chief technology officer, mentioned it during a speech in Silicon Valley today:

‘Customer-friendly may not be at the top of your list of words to express how this agency [USCIS] operates,’ Mr. Chopra said. Still, he argued that the immigrant workers were ‘hungry’ to do better and should soon have tools to help them provide people with better information like how far along they are in the green-card process.

We discussed the tool in an April 27th post. And we are glad that USCIS is actually pulling it together already (vs. two years from now).

Regardless of what USCIS would name it, the “tracker” supposedly will provide real status information about I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. According to Mr. Aytes, USCIS Acting Deputy Director, it will be much better than the existing status checking system which mostly display one status: “your case is still pending.” Instead, the much anticipated web-based tool is capable of showing “how many people are waiting in line with pending adjustment applications or how long it may be before USCIS can process and approve his application.”

And according to President Obama, immigrants will not only get to check their case status online, but through email and text messaging as well.

Well over 500,000 people are now waiting for their green cards, and even more are waiting to get in line. They can certainly use a status tracker once in a while. Although it doesn’t fix visa retrogression, which is the reason why the line is so long, it hopefully can provide at least an insider’s view on when their ordeal may be over.

Now we just have to wait for the tracker, and see if it actually works.

Here is a sneak peak of the new “vastly improved” USCIS website, to be launched September 22, 2009:

Redesigned USCIS Website
Redesigned USCIS Website

California Apologizes to Chinese Immigrants

The State of California quietly passed a bill (ACR 42) last week to officially apologize to Chinese-Americans for discriminatory laws and provisions which resulted in the persecution of Chinese immigrants living in California in the 19th and 20th centuries. The racist laws, enacted as far back as the Gold Rush, barred Chinese from voting, owning properties, working in the public sector or testifying against whites in court. The bill also recognized the significant contributions made by Chinese immigrants to the state.

Paul Fong and De Leon, co-sponsors of the bill, said in a statement:

Learning from our past and acknowledging the travesties of justice in our history will help enable us to travel further down the path towards building a stronger state. This resolution seeks to recognize this fact by paying tribute to the significant contributions that Chinese in California made to our state despite the pervasive and sustained discrimination made against them by the State of California.

The apology, although mostly symbolic, is long overdue and will be well received in the Chinese communities throughout the U.S.

Similar bills have passed in recent years, including U.S. government apologizing to African Americans for slavery, and to Japanese Americans for detaining innocent immigrants during World War II.

Time reported that

With the California bill in the bag, Fong now plans to take the issue to Congress, where he will request an apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act, the only federal law ever enacted to deny immigration based exclusively on race or nationality.