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Carl Shusterman
Los Angeles, California
Immigration Attorney with 33 years of experience specializing in immigration law. (Former INS Attorney 1976-82)
Recent Activity
Think that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress will never be able to agree about immigration policy? Better think again! When I started working as an immigration attorney, Jerry Ford was the President of the United States. Over the past 35 years, I have seen the two parties unite to pass dozens of immigration laws. Yes, I know the parties are so divided on the issue of what to do about the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. that they couldn't even get together a few weeks ago to pass the DREAM Act. However, when it comes to reforming... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2011 at Nation of Immigrants
For over 3.5 million persons waiting in line to become permanent residents of the United States, the February 2011 Visa Bulletin signals yet another month of frustration. The numbers seem to be frozen in time. In the family categories, the worldwide visa numbers for the 1st, 2A, 2B and 3rd preferences all failed to advance a single day. For persons in the 4th preference category, the news was much, much worse: the waiting time increased from 9 to 11 years. For persons in the already heavily backlogged family categories from the Philippines and Mexico, the advances were minimal, and for... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2011 at Nation of Immigrants
Immigration legislation in Congress ended on a sour note in 2010. The DREAM Act, after narrowly passing in the House of Representatives, failed to get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate required to overcome a threatened GOP filibuster. Comprehensive immigration reform never even came to a vote in the last Congress. What will the outlook be for immigration legislation in the 112th Congress which convenes beginning on January 3, 2011? The biggest change will be in the House of Representatives where the majority, and the committee chairmanships, will change from Democrats to Republicans. Representative Lamar Smith The new Chairman... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
It's been several years since the employment-based preference categories developed huge backlogs. However, no one was prepared for today's announcement from the State Department that most of the family-based categories will retrogress between one and three years beginning on January 1, 2011. Consider the worldwide categories: Beginning in January 1, the 1st preference category (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) goes from a 5-year to a 6-year wait. The story is much, much worse in the 2A category (spouses and children of permanent residents) where the wait expands from a mere 4 months to 3 years, a 9-fold increase.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
On November 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit held, in Sazar Dent v. Holder, that a person in removal/deportation proceedings has a right to receive a copy of his administrative file. The case involves a man born in Honduras who was brought to the U.S. as a child by an American woman, and who was later adopted by her. When the government tried to deport him for a criminal conviction, he argued that he was an American citizen by virtue of his adoption. The Immigration Judge and the BIA both agreed that he had been adopted, but... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Congress may vote on the DREAM Act as early as this week. Unless the DREAM Act passes in lame duck session, it is unlikely that the new conservative Congress will pass this important piece of legislation into law during the next two years. All around the country, something incredible is happening. Student leaders across the U.S. are coming out and declaring that they are present in the U.S. without papers. This, of course, could lead to their being arrested and deported, and yet, they continue to do so in ever greater numbers. Consider David Cho, a 21-year-old senior at my... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
On October 20, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) rolled out its new website. The EOIR is composed of the (1) Immigration Courts; (2) Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the (3) Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO). The EOIR announced the coming of the new website in a press release dated October 19. The agency stated as follows: "The EOIR website has been a prominent site for respondents, representatives, nongovernmental organizations, the press, and the public to gain updated information about the agency. The new site offers a clean design that mirrors the look and feel... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Can a Saturday or a Sunday be a "business day"? It depends on who you ask. The U.S. Department of Labor says yes, while the Department of Homeland Security thinks otherwise. What's an employer to do? On October 12, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) issued a decision "In the Matter of Il Cortile Restaurant". This case involves a PERM application for a chef, and has been bouncing around in the Labor Department (DOL) for three years. In May 2007, the employer posted a Notice of Filing (NOF) of a PERM application for ten consecutive days. The Certifying... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Being involved in a pending nationwide class action lawsuit regarding the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) tends to focus one's attention on the operation of this statute. I try to read every CSPA decision rendered by a Federal Court or by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). (Our final brief in the class action lawsuit was submitted to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on October 5th. We eagerly await the scheduling of oral arguments by the Court.) The day after we submitted our brief, the BIA, in Matter of Murillo (A099 252 007) interpreted the phrase "sought to acquire"... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
The USCIS has added a new feature to its website, entitled the Citizenship Resource Center. I am impressed by this new service and I'll tell you why. Back in the 1970s when I served as an INS Citizenship Attorney, I was appalled that the government had no program to help immigrants interested in becoming U.S. citizens. In fact, applicants had to line up at the Federal Building early in the morning, and wait in line for hours simply to obtain an application form. I developed a program where government attorneys visited evening Citizenship classes in Southern California. They spoke and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
When the economy is in the tank, voters look for a scapegoat. Back in 2005, when the economy was flourishing (Remember?), the McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill was co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of Senators including Republicans like Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mel Martinez of Florida and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, not to mention an obscure Democrat freshman from Illinois by the name of Barack Obama. In the 2008 Presidential elections, Senator Obama promised to push for CIR, and the Latino vote in states like Colorado and New Mexico helped propel him to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Jessica Duran and her family had a big immigration problem when they visited me in my office a couple of months ago. The U.S. Court of the Appeals had dismissed their appeal, and they were under a final order of deportation. The only thing keeping ICE from deporting them was that court had yet to issue the mandate in their case. I looked at their paperwork, and told them that there was nothing an immigration lawyer could do to help them, and to save their money for their new lives in Mexico. I expected an explosion of anger or of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
The Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC) was founded in 1994 by leading human rights activist, Chanchanit Martorell, on the idea that all peoples have a basic right to a decent standard of living and quality of life. Yet, in the Thai and other disadvantaged communities, people are living in substandard housing and lack access to basic health services, education and quality employment. As a social change organization engaged in human rights advocacy and broad based community development, the Thai CDC seeks to empower the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged members of the Thai community. They include poor recent immigrants,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Back in 1986, Immigration Judges denied almost 90% of all asylum requests. Now, during the past 9 months, the Judges granted 50% of asylum requests. What's more, the disparities among various Immigration Judges have narrowed somewhat. This information is contained in a new report issued by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of the University of Syracuse. This increase in approvals tracks with another important consideration: In 1986, only a little more than half of all asylum applicants were represented by an attorney. Today, over 90% of asylum applicants have attorneys. Attorney-represented asylum seekers have their cases granted 54% of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
The most frequent question that we receive is “How do I choose a good immigration attorney?” Our response is “Why settle for ‘good’? Read on. There are websites for finding excellent hotels, wonderful restaurants and great physicians. How about a site for choosing an attorney? See During the past year, Avvo has emerged as the premier site for selecting an attorney. Avvo, short for avvocato (Italian for attorney), is gaining not only in popularity but in usefulness. Great immigration attorneys will tell you that by the time 30% of potential clients consult with them, some incompetent attorney or “consultant”... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
After many months of calling on the Federal Government to more vigorously enforce our immigration laws, it turns out that some of the biggest immigration law violators are government officials in the State of Arizona. And as soon as the Justice Department charged them with breaking the law, their attitude suddenly became "enforce the laws against them, not against us!" Let me explain. Back in 1986, President Reagan signed the Immigration Control and Reform Act (IRCA). The law established the I-9 system so that employers would not knowingly hire undocumented workers. At the same time, in order to insure that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
On August 20, John Morton, the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), released a memorandum entitled "Guidance Regarding the Handling of Removal Proceedings of Aliens with Pending or Approved Application or Petitions". The memorandum applies to persons in removal proceedings who meet the following criteria: The alien must be the subject of an application or petition with USCIS to include a current priority date, if required, for adjustment of status; The alien appears eligible for relief as a matter of law and in the exercise of discretion; The alien must present a completed "Application to Register... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Many of our clients have been crying tears of joy because of the September Visa Bulletin. The best news is the advance in the family-based 2A category. Just one year ago, the wait exceeded five years. Now, the wait is down to just 8 months! This is very important to persons who were granted green cards under the EB-3 category before the retrogression, and who have been waiting for years for their spouses/children to “follow to join” them. Last week, I spoke to a nurse who got her green card in 2007 based on her 2006 EB-3 priority date. She... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
From its passage in 2002 until now, the USCIS has never issued so much as a memo explaining how to interpret the "automatic conversion" clause of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). They left it to the Board of Immigation Appeals (BIA) to explain this in Matter of Wang in 2009. The USCIS argued that the clause be interpreted in the most restrictive way possible, and surprisingly, the Board bought their argument. However, Matter of Wang may have a short shelf life, and here's why: 1) The “Administrative Delays” Fallacy In Matter of Wang, the Board states that “we find... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Last month, we spotted some language written by the State Department in the August Visa Bulletin which indicated that certain categories might advance rapidly in the September 2010 Visa Bulletin. And for many thousands of people, the September Visa Bulletin is a dream-come-true. Not for those with India and China employment-based (EB) priority dates who have waiting in line for much too long (Did you hear that, Congress?). For who then? For those in the worldwide EB-3 category for instance. For professionals and skilled workers, the numbers advanced over 5 months in September while for unskilled workers, the advance was... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
In 2008, all four Oscar winners in the acting categories went to foreign-born persons: Daniel Day-Lewis (Best Actor), Marion Cotillard (Best Actress), Javier Bardem (Best Supporting Actor) and Tilda Swinton (Best Supporting Actress). Of course, these actors were all selected by their colleagues, and what do they know about acting? Imagine if the Oscar winners were voted upon by recognized experts in the field, i.e., the immigration examiners at the California Service Center (CSC). Fat chance that the Oscar winners would be a bunch of foreigners! As an article in today's Los Angeles Times reveals, Hollywood is in an uproar... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
On July 29, the National Review Online broke the story about a leaked USCIS memo entitled "Administrative Alternatives to Comprehensive Immigration Reform". Immediately, Senate Republicans went on the attack. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) did not hesitate to invoke the dreaded "A word": "This memo give credence to our concerns that the administration will go to great lengths to circumvent Congress and unilaterally execute a back door amnesty plan." A "back door amnesty plan"? Whoa! Now, wouldn't that be a great issue for the Republicans in the November elections? However, Senator Grassley must be hoping that people will not take the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
On July 28, Federal District Court Judge Susan Bolton granted a preliminary injunction against major sections of Arizona’s new immigration law which were scheduled to become effective the following day. In a 36-page decision, Judge Bolton found that the United States is “likely to succeed on the merits in showing that the following sections of S.B.1070 are preempted by Federal law”: * “requiring that an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States, and requiring... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
For the past three years, all of our articles about the monthly Visa Bulletin have been filled with gloom and doom as the EB numbers continued to retrogress. Absent a legislative fix, we are not about to uncork any bottles of champagne this month. However, we would be remiss if we failed to note that the August 2010 Visa Bulletin contains welcome news for many of those waiting for their visa numbers to become current: · Family Categories - Worldwide o The 1st preference category (unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) moved forward 4 months; o The 2A... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants
Ever wonder how many people get green cards in the U.S. in a year? In 2009, the number was 1.1 million, slightly above the numbers in 2007 and 2008. A And what countries did the immigrants come from? Did the number of immigrants coming from one country exceed 50% of the total? Hardly! Only 15% of last year’s immigrants were born in Mexico. The other top countries of birth were China, the Philippines, India and the Dominican Republic, each of which accounted for 4-6% of the new immigrants. In total, 37% of the new immigrants are Asian while 31% are... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2010 at Nation of Immigrants