Morning News, 1/29/09

By Bryan Griffith, January 29, 2009

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1. Government postpones E-verify
2. Vatican official lobbies
3. Activists keep pressure
4. Latino group sues over DLs
5. FL sells status for investment

E-Verify rule governing contractor employees postponed
By Alice Lipowicz
Federal Computer Week, January 28, 2009

The government has agreed to postpone implementing the E-Verify regulation for federal contractors until May 21 at the earliest, a business group announced today. The regulation would require contractors to check the E-Verify system to determine if workers are legally eligible to work in the United States.

Federal officials agreed to a request by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to postpone enforcement of the regulation so the rule can be reviewed by the Obama administration, the chamber said in a news release today.

It is the second time the federal government has pushed back the deadline. The chamber and other business groups earlier this month challenged the legitimacy of the E-Verify regulation in a lawsuit. They were successful in delaying the starting date for enforcement to Feb. 20, from the initial date of Jan. 15.

Under the new agreement, federal contractors don't need to comply with E-Verify until May 21.
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Vatican Official in US: Immigration Has Benefits
Says Migration Is Opportunity for Interreligious Dialogue, January 27, 2009

San Deigo, CA -- Immigration presents both a challenge and an opportunity, and requires the promotion of authentic integration as well as respect for the dignity of each person, affirmed a Vatican official in California.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said this today in an address at San Diego University. The theme of the conference was "Religion, Migration and National Identity."

Archbishop Marchetto spoke about the cultural identity of migrants, easily lost when they move to a new society, and the need to prepare people for this step through pre-migration educational programs.

He addressed the need for genuine integration of migrants into their host society, avoiding the extremes of total rejection of the new culture and its consequent marginalization, or the migrant's adoption of the "local cultural model without in the least attempting to evaluate its consequences on the way they conduct their own lives."

The prelate stated that this intercultural integration through dialogue is the responsibility of the immigrant as well as the host society.
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Activists keep heat on Obama over immigration
By Tim Gaynor
Reuters, January 28, 2009

Phoenix (Reuters) -- When U.S. President Barack Obama took office last week, a coalition of south Texas landowners wrote to his new administration urging an end to a wall-building program on the Mexico border.

The following day, hundreds of pro-immigration activists rallied in Washington calling on the new president to halt workplace enforcement raids and revive a thwarted bid to overhaul of U.S. immigration laws.

As Obama settles into the White House, he faces renewed pressure from pro-immigration activists to keep a pledge to support immigration reform, or at the least, roll back some of the get-tough immigration policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.

"If immigration reform's not possible soon, then at least stop the immigration raids as it is something that is very important to the (Hispanic) community," said Antonio Bernabe, an organizer with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles who joined the rally in Washington a week ago.

Pressure on Obama, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, also comes from residents in south Texas, who want an immediate halt to a controversial program to complete 670 miles of barriers along the Mexican border pushed by Napolitano's predecessor Michael Chertoff.

"The overwhelming majority of the population in south Texas is opposed to the wall and votes Democratic," said Scott Nicol, spokesman for the south Texas-based No Border Wall coalition, which wrote to Napolitano on inauguration day calling on the former Arizona governor to end construction of the wall.

"So if Obama values that constituency he needs to bring about some changes in the border policies," he added.
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Latino group sues over Texas licensing rule
By Anabelle Garay
The Associated Press, January 28, 2009

Dallas (AP) -- Latino advocates sued the Texas Department of Public Safety on Wednesday over new rules affecting which non-U.S. citizens can obtain driver's licenses and identification cards.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the lawsuit in state district court in Austin. It's on behalf of three men with permission to work in the country and a Lewisville landscaping business that employs seasonal foreign workers through a federal program.

The men are landscaping workers in North Texas who need to drive as part of their job but could not obtain a Texas driver's license under the new DPS policies because their visas are valid for only 10 months. DPS rules exclude people from receiving driver's licenses if they have a visa for less than one year or have less than six months remaining on it, MALDEF said.

Officials also changed the appearance of driver's licenses for persons with legal permission to be in the U.S. so that they differ from licenses given to citizens and green card holders.

MALDEF contends the Public Safety Commission, which oversees DPS, exceeded its authority and did not have Legislative approval to adopt the rules. The suit also said the new policies prevent thousands of people living legally in Texas from receiving standard licenses.

"We are confident the courts will step in and put an end to these arbitrary rules," Nina Perales, MALDEF southwest regional counsel, said in a statement.

DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said she could not comment on pending litigation.
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Want a green card? Pay $1M for stake in Orlando-area condo hotel
By Sara K. Clarke
The Orlando Sentinel, January 28, 2009

Condominium hotels were among the first real-estate investments to go sour as the housing market slumped and, later, the credit markets seized up. But Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa is hoping the lure of permanent U.S. residency will eventually persuade well-heeled foreign investors to help it expand near Walt Disney World.

The condo-hotel resort received government approval several months ago to serve as a "regional center" for foreign investment. Under federal immigration policy, an approved foreigner whose investment is supposed to create 10 full-time jobs in the U.S. can get a conditional visa to live here -- and can ultimately secure a regular "green card" good for permanent residency.

The Lake Buena Vista resort is one of only about 35 such centers for EB-5 visas in the country -- and the first one not in a rural or high-unemployment setting.

So far, it has no takers for its million-dollar-visa offer. The recession and global financial turmoil have taken "a bit of a bite" from the program's potential, said Larry Behar, an immigration lawyer working on the project.

"There seems to be less interest of people immigrating to the United States," Behar said. "When you compound that with a million-dollar investment, it becomes complicated."

The local EB-5 visa offer works like this: A foreign investor pays $1 million for a stake in a limited-liability corporation that owns 70 of the resort's condo-hotel units. The investor has to have the cash on hand and has to be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which can investigate the source of the person's money. In return, the investor gets a conditional visa -- as well as conditional green cards for immediate family members.
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