Sunday, October 16, 2011

Greeks rush at chance to migrate to Australia

HE helped to build the Australian embassy in Athens but now George Triantafillou is joining the queue outside the building to try to emigrate.

"There are no jobs," Mr Triantafillou, an electrician and father of two, said. "After the Olympic Games, jobs in construction collapsed. I closed my company in 2009. "Now I'm working as a removals man. I make 30 per cent of what I used to earn."

Thousands of Greeks have decided that the best way out of the country's profound economic crisis is to leave their homeland. When the Australian embassy announced recently that it was seeking skilled immigrants, there was a rush to fill out application forms.

A total of 773 people, with experience in healthcare, engineering, construction and automotive and mechanical trades, were eventually accepted.

"Because of the situation in Greece, people have seen this as an opportunity," said Lancia Jordana, of the Immigration Department. "But we need to have Australian employers who are interested in sponsoring people. The demand has outstripped supply."

A constant stream of would-be emigrants continues to turn up at the embassy seeking work. "I heard on TV that Australia is open for immigration and I am looking for a job," said George Kouduris, married with one child. "I have been working as a crane driver but there are no jobs in the crane business. Even if there are jobs, the crane owners want to do it themselves. "I want to be a truck driver or electrician in Australia."

Alexandros Patsis, a carpenter, had a furniture-making business with his two brothers and 15 workers. The economic crisis forced them to lay off all their workers. "Now it is only me and my brothers," said the father of two. "Nobody asks us to do any jobs. I made houses, furniture, doors, but now nobody wants to make anything, so we do not have any work."

Anna Triandafyllidou, a researcher at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy in Athens, said Greece experienced mass emigration after the World War II to North America, Australia and European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and France. The trend reversed after the oil crisis in 1973, when the emigrants started to return from Germany and the United States.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain, Greece experienced an influx of immigrants in the late 1980s and early 90s, first with ethnic Greeks from the USSR and then from countries such as Albania. Now the trend is reversing again.

The lack of jobs is so severe that many recent immigrants are thinking of going elsewhere. Every day Pakistanis line up outside their embassy in Athens trying to get papers to go home.


Send us your delinquents and we will give them a green card

USCIS Makes It Easier for Aging Juvenile Delinquents to Get Amnesty

Not everyone benefiting from a currently proposed USCIS rule-change is an aging juvenile delinquent, but I suspect most of the people in the Special Immigrant Juvenile category fit that description. Most of the beneficiaries, if not all, are probably illegal aliens, as well.

The proposed USCIS regulation makes it easier for the applicants to get green cards, as explained subsequently.

The main eligibility requirement for this particular mini-amnesty is that you have to be “dependent on” or “under the custody” of a juvenile court. You also must have a court determination that your parents neglected, abandoned, or abused you, and that is usually the case for delinquents of all backgrounds.

The other main requirement is that some “administrative or judicial proceedings” – not necessarily an immigration court – must have ruled, to quote the USCIS instructions to the applicants, “that it would not be in the juvenile’s best interest to be returned to the juvenile’s or his or her parent’s country of nationality . . ."

Not the nation’s best interests, mind you, but the juvenile’s. Incidentally, that should be parents’ (plural possessive) but let’s not split hairs.

And what does the young person in the custody of the court get when he or she successfully files an I-360 form? This is the list of goodies, according to a cheerful “how-to” document issued about this immigration status by the Minnesota Department of Human Services:

Lawful permanent residency (LPR) or “green card”

Work permission upon receipt of LPR status

Minnesota identification card or driver’s license

Ability to travel or visit relatives outside the United States

Eventual path to citizenship (after five years)

Access to federal financial aid for college

Access to Chafee independent living funds,

Support for Emancipation and Living Functionally (SELF) program in Minnesota

Other federal and state benefits and services

In other words, this is a specialized form of amnesty, written into the basic Immigration and Nationality Act. As for the Chafee funds, named for the late Republican Senator from Rhode Island, and Minnesota’s SELF program, each provides services and sometimes room and board funding for older adolescents (18-21) including those living alone. In short, it is a nice package.

Returning to the strictly immigration aspects of the program, it has been steadily expanding in recent years. These were the admissions reported in Table Seven of the Yearbooks of Immigration Statistics for the fiscal years noted:

2004 634
2005 679
2006 912
2007 796
2008 1,009
2009 1,157
2010 1,492

This, as suggested in previous blogs, is often the pattern for what appears to be a highly specialized new segment of the immigration law; after a while immigration lawyers, social workers, and the aliens themselves find out about it and use it more widely with every passing year.

Why this little amnesty program came to my attention is a story in itself. As noted in some previous blogs, such as one on the USCIS’s efforts to promote the tiny program for abused step-parents of U.S. citizens (making them potential immigrants), USCIS is gung-ho about making sure that every potential visa, is, in fact used to bring in more people, no matter how narrow the category.

Presumably with that motivation, USCIS recently announced in the Federal Register an effort to expand, mildly, the eligibility for these young people to secure amnesty. The new rule, which occupies nine full pages of the FR, twenty-seven columns of small type, makes the point that while one must be under 21 when one files for this kind of amnesty, one need not be under 21 at the time of the agency decision on the matter; there are other similar easements in the proposed rule making.

So one could be rather older than 21 when one gets a green card in this specialized way.

The FR notice, true to DHS form, does not mention any numbers, or that the beneficiaries may be delinquents, or that both the juveniles and their parents are probably illegal aliens. (The full text of the FR notice can also be seen starting at p. 2189 in the September 12 issue of Interpreter Releases, the immigration bar’s trade paper.)

On looking into the subject a little further I examined the I-360, the form that one must file to secure a green card in this way. The instructions for that form show, in precise detail, how the agency has stacked the deck in favor of the applicant.

In addition to a sensible demand for a birth certificate (to show age), the instructions also require the filing of: “Copies of the court or administrative document(s) upon which the claim to eligibility is based.”

Not all court documents, a set which would give DHS a sense of the total picture of the applicant, who, by definition has a court record, but only those that are needed to secure the green card.

Clearly some of those applying are not necessarily delinquents; one can be a victim of parental abuse, for instance, and be in the custody of a juvenile court. But if you attend a hearing in a juvenile court, as I have (as a spectator) from time to time, you will usually find that the great bulk of the young people present are there because of trouble of their own making.

This is, admittedly, a pretty specialized little amnesty program, one that is best navigated not by the juvenile alone but by a knowledgeable social worker or immigration attorney; further it evaporates if the juvenile does not apply before his or her 21st birthday. It is unlikely to make much of a dent on the size of the illegal-alien population, generally.

Its presence in the law, and the latest USCIS effort to expand its utilization, however, are instructive windows into the thought processes of both the Congress and the agency.

If a reader wishes to comment to the authorities on this proposed rule – suggesting, for instance, that we need not expand any of these small-scale, under-the-radar amnesties – the reader may do so by e-mailing, including “DHS Docket No. USCIS-2009-0004" in the subject line. This also can be done by postal mail. The deadline is November 7.


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