Daily Archives: March 27, 2008

Immigration Legislation Forum: Business community discuss impacts, effectiveness of E-Verify

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO (Via teleconference) — A conference call with Washington experts last March 19 (10:00 am PST/1:00 EST) opened with a discussion about recent employer-sanctioning immigration legislation and how businesses and employers have responded to its impact, as well as E-Verify, the federal government’s online employment eligibility verification system.

Guest speakers were Angelo I. Amador, Director of Immigration Policy for the US Chamber of Commerce, Craig Regelbrugge, Vice

President, Government Relations and Research for the American Nursery and Landscape Association and Chair of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, and Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the CATO Institute and author of Electronic Employment Eligibility Verfication: Franz Kafka’s Solution to Illegal Immigration. Each shared valuable information and inputs about the current immigration legislation and the role of employers in making the law work for the business and their workers.

Saving the agricultural industry

“The agricultural sector is in a precarious situation,” said Regelbrugge. With more than half of the estimated 1.6 million agricultural workforce unauthorized for employment in the industry, farm employers are scared of recent measures made against illegal immigrant workers. “They (farms) have become sitting ducks and easy targets for raids,” explained Regelbrugge.

Also, the past several years have seen farmers and ranchers throughout the US seeking reform of the H-2A temporary and seasonal alien agricultural worker program and years of congressional testimonies before both the Senate and House Immigration Subcommittees. There is bipartisan recognition of the shortage of legal agricultural workers in the US. The current H-2A program needs substantial reform before most agricultural employers can effectively use it.

The effect is hurting the seasonal agricultural economy, as employers now plant and harvest less, downsizing, while workers move to new locations. “We must take a broader base on reform,” Regelbrugge said and added, “Mass dislocation and deportation is not the way to go.”

Regelbrugge believes that there should be clear and simple rules for employers to follow. “We should be creating a mechanism for people to come out of the shadows.” In California alone, it is estimated that 450,000-500,000 workers are employed each year for the very rich, very labor intensive agricultural industry.

E-Verify

E-Verify, then known as “Basic Pilot,” grew out of the requirement to verify the work-eligibility of workers. A joint project of the US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Social Security Administration (SSA), it is an electronic employment eligibility verification system created in 1997 and implemented in all 50 states. It is voluntary for all employers except the more than 200,000 federal contractors required by Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

However, recent changes were announced after immigration reform bills failed to pass Congress. These included requirements for all US employers to use E-Verify. DHS estimates such an expansion could cost the agency about $400 million per year. E-Verify is currently free for employers, but that may change and DHS may shift the burden of paying for this system to employers.

Also, such expansion would create problems as far as data is concerned. According to Harper, the database of the SSA and DHS is not up to date and is in error by 4.1 percent. There is always the possibility that a legal worker may receive a “no match” or non-confirmation for his or her eligibility to work. “This will only increase identity frauds, will drive illegal immigrants into law-breaking,” said Harper and added, “and will cause more problems for US citizens.”

“The system is far from perfect, there are problems in the federal system,” said Regelbrugge.

Pushing for reform

History shows how hardworking immigrants became the driving force in turning the US into a prosperous nation. However, immigration laws for both punish the federal and state levels are confusing a lot of business owners and most are framing employers as the problem.

“A lot of these laws do not make economic sense,” said Amador. He believes that there should be a culture of activism to push for comprehensive immigration reform to increase security and open the pathway to legalization for undocumented workers already contributing to the economy. Another solution is to increase the continuity and expansion of H-1B, L-1, and EB visas for professionals and highly valued workers.

Harper believes that a mandatory national electronic employment eligibility verification system will not only be costly but will also be unable to prevent illegal immigration. It would deny a sizable percentage of law-abiding American citizens the ability to work legally.

Creating such system would require a national identification (ID) system, which will cost about $20 billion and hundreds of millions every year to operate. Harper also wrote in his policy analysis that “Even if it were free, the country should reject a national ID system. It would cause law-abiding American citizens to lose more of their privacy as government records about them grow and are converted to untold new purposes.”

Moderated by Odette Keeley of New America Media (NAM), the bi-monthly conference call, Access Washington, aims to help the ethnic media track immigration reform. The calls are organized in partnership with the National Immigration Forum, the Center for Community Change, the Asian American Justice Center and the National Council of la Raza, and funded by Public Interest Projects.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Lani Misalucha Best Singer in 27th Annual Best of Las Vegas

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – Filipina singer Lani Misalucha, dubbed Asia’s Nightingale, was voted Best Singer in the recently concluded 27th annual Best of Las Vegas poll. Conducted by The Las Vegas Review-Journal, almost 8,000 total votes were cast and tallied in this year’s poll. There were two picks for best singer; the readers’ pick was Celine Dion and the staff pick was Lani Misalucha.

Born in Manila,Philippines, Lani holds shows at the Flamingo Las Vegas with the veteran Hawaiian variety troupe Society of Seven – SOS. Misalucha’s full-throated style and wide range have been frequently compared to those of popular divas such as Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion. Since arriving in Las Vegas in 2004, she has been called the New Siren of the Strip. She possesses a comedic flair and can effectively impersonate above-named divas as well as Gladys Knight, Toni Braxton, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, Tina Turner, Beyonce Knowles, and Britney Spears.

Born into a musical family, Lani started joining various bands at age 17 as a vocalist or back-up singer. After obtaining a degree in Business Management from the Philippine Christian University, Lani married Noli Misalucha, an IT expert and Mormon pastor with whom she has two kids, Lian and Louven.

In 1996, Misalucha made a breakthrough with the song “Ang Iibigin ay Ikaw” which was a finalist at the Metropop Song Festival and later conferred the Awit Award for Record of the Year. In 1998, she won acclaim outside the country when she was awarded the Best Interpreter/Singer Award at the 3rd Asian Song Festival. Misalucha received the Grand Prize at the 1999 Metropop Song Festival Artist of the Year Award. In that same year, she won the Aliw Award for Best Lounge Act, Awit Award for Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist, and Awit Award Nomination for Best Stage Actress.

Misalucha was hailed as Aliw Awardee for Best Female Performance in Music Lounges, Bars, Clubs & Restaurants for four consecutive years, 1999-2002. She became a semi-regular host in the Sunday noontime show SOP (Sobrang Okey Pare) in 2001, along with other top artists. Her first major solo concert in September 2001 at the Araneta Coliseum entitled, “Lani Misalucha, The Crossover Live Tour” was packed to the rafters by over 18,000 fans. In that same year, Misalucha received the Aliw Award for Best Major Concert by a Female Artist and the Tinig Award for Best Solo Performer. Her Crossover Live Concert album received the Platinum Award.

In 2002, she bagged the Aliw “Entertainer of the Year” award, and two Katha awards — Best Folk Song Vocal Performance and Best Traditional Song Vocal Performance. She also held her first US Concert Tour that year, performing in Reno, San Diego, Washington, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Atlantic City, Pasadena, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. of San Francisco declared August 17 “Lani Misalucha Day” to give due recognition to her talent as an artist.

In 2004, after being granted a US visa as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability,” Misalucha relocated with her whole family to the United States.

In no time, Lani became the first Asian to headline in a Main Showroom of the Las Vegas Strip, performing with Hawaii’s Society of Seven at the Jubilee Theatre of Bally’s. Her stint at Bally’s ran for 15 months from August 7, 2004 to February 5, 2006, after which she and the Society of Seven moved to the Main Showroom of the Flamingo starting last August 2006. They will be staying on at the Flamingo till April 13.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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