HEADLINES: Immigration

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Mayor Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, recently announced an expansion of legal services for immigrants in New York City. According to a statement by the Mayor’s website, Bloomberg will implement a staff of eleven new full-time immigration attorneys whose role it will be to “ensure that immigrants… have access to the counsel they need and do not suffer unnecessary immigration consequences as they navigate the legal system” in the courts and at the City’s Family Justice Centers. The program is set to launch by the beginning of 2012. The Mayor justifies the expansion of such services on the premises that immigrants are often unaware of the complexities of the immigration system and what’s in their best interests. The approximately 1.5 million dollars needed to fund the program will be  partially covered by donations from the Robin Hood Foundation. [The Huffington Post]

The House voted Tuesday to end per-country caps on worker-based immigration visas, a move that should benefit skilled Indian and Chinese residents seeking to stay in the United States and the high-tech companies who hire them. The legislation, which passed 389-15, was a rare example of bipartisan accord on immigration, an issue that largely has been avoided during the current session of Congress because of the political sensitivities involved. The measure would eliminate the current law that says employment-based visas to any one country can’t exceed 7 percent of the total number of such visas given out. Instead, permanent residence visas or green cards would be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Currently, the State Department issues about 140,000 such green cards a year to foreign nationals working in the United States, often after getting degrees from U.S. universities. [The Washington Post]

Before he died, Joaquin Luna put on his best suit, white shirt and black skinny tie, the same outfit he wore every Sunday without fail to the Pan de Vida church in his home town of Mission, Texas. Then he shot himself in the shower room, leaving behind a note that explained why he ended such a promising life. He spoke of his desperation at what he felt to be the wall blocking out his future and preventing him from attaining his dreams, a wall reserved for undocumented immigrants in America. Aged 18, and in his last year at Juarez-Lincoln High School in La Joya, Luna appeared to have it all going for him. He spoke fluent English, had grades that were regularly 100% and never below 85%, and was skilled at operating computer graphics. The one thing that Luna did not have was the paperwork to grant him legal status in the US. He was born in Ciudad Miguel Alemán in Mexico, right on the border with Texas. [The Guardian]

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