tv [untitled] January 31, 2011 2:00pm-2:30pm PST
i want to continue along those lines. one of the issues that adrian asked us to address was what can we do as san francisco residents? i have the luxury of not just working with immigrants and immigrant rights groups in the bay area, but i do the same thing with immigration policy centers in the d.c. d.c. does not hear enough from un meeting. and from members of the community. i urge you to set up a mechanism where you can of regularly get your message to washington, either by going yourself to
testify, or sending residents of the county. i can honestly tell you, they do not see enough immigrants in the halls of washington. when i started as an immigration attorney in 1974, i met one of your commissioners. my workload was interesting at that time. it was half family visa. the other half of my caseload were mexican immigrants who had just been arrested. for a period of time, i was the only legal services attorney in northern california who represented low income people.
i would interview people who had just been arrested. at night, i would be filling out visa forms for my chinese clients. today, as i said on the board of the asian american justice center in washington, d.c. off, and the locally, and my day job is helping to supervise immigration attorneys at the immigration clinic at davis. i see a range of clients that have pressing needs. while we all hope and wish for compehensive immigration reform, i have got to tell you from what i've heard the last several months, the question we all have to ask ourselves is at what price? if we get an immigration bill
introduced that a serious blow for the spring, i'll tell you right now the provisions i will not be happy with. i know they're going to be in there. you should be aware of these provisions. first of all, the price that the estimated 10 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country may be to pay is they may all be forced to plead guilty to a crime before they can file their application. that is before they actually have to pay a fine that is attached. right now what is seriously being discussed is what level of crime should they have to plead guilty to before they apply for
legalization. should it be a misdemeanor or in a fraction? that is going on right now. the second thing is an attack on family immigration. on family immigration. the legislation that was introduced in 2007 would have eliminated the sibling category and the category for adults, sons, daughters, of lawful residents. somehow, there is a judgment made by our representatives in congress that those relatives do not reflect american values. somehow, siblings, adults, children are not important. instead, we should have a point system that favors people with high educational degrees, who can speak english, who have certain health-care jobs. we should be prepared for that being part of the bill. we should be prepared for
increased funding for employer sanctions and border control. we spend billions of dollars every year and there will be new billions that will be part of this legislation. both versions of the bill that is being considered today include expansion of the e- verify system. all of that is premised on the understanding or belief that people should be punished for working. that is what they are being punished for. the ice raids that i had the privilege of testifying about before you, the activity that enforcement officials visit on our communities is a result of the license that ice feels it
has because of the employer sanctions. employer sanctions should be eliminated, but it will be expanded as part of the legislation. the other part of the legislation that will expand is probably an expansion of such concepts as aggravated felonies, elimination of the process rights, expansion of the 1996 legislation that president chu alluded to earlier, when in fact, we should be seeking methods for allowing immigration judges to have an option to provide second chances to people who are rehabilitated, people who have served their time. when the legislation becomes serious and introduced, you should speak out against these provisions.
i can guarantee they will be there. instead of addressing the real problem of undocumented immigration -- just to be short about it, the problem is the mexican economy. we can do everything you want, mine the border, but the military on the border. until you address the imbalance of the economy's between the two countries, people will keep on coming, because it is a matter of survival. we should be looking to the european union as an example they were faced with similar challenges, and what they did was to invest in the poorer nations. when they opened the borders, no one came. less than 2% of member states in the eu are finding less and
less immigration. pepople are happy to stay home, if there is work. >> thank you for coming and sharing your ideas about immigration. the member for of 1981 i came to the united states -- november 1981 and came to the united states. i have been a resident of san francisco or the past few years. -- for the past 20 years. in my immigration practice, which i started with the help of the immigrant resource center, who was trying to help low- income immigrants adjust to life in the u.s. new life after amnesty, a lot of people were not able to immigrate because of a lack of money.
still to this point, i see a lot of immigrants who want to get their work permits. i ask them how long they have been here. sometimes they have been here since the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's. a lot of them are elderly who are ready to retire. i had 165-year-old man who is alone, no family -- a 65-year- old man who is alone, no family here, but he does not have any papers to get that social security that he has contributed to for 30 years. he will be homeless after working for many years. i faced this situation with my clients a lot.
i help low income people. sometimes it is very difficult. sometimes i think about how small the world is a and i see how immigration laws are changing. immigration rates started about 40 years ago and i started to see my client to come to me. my husband has been here 10 years and all of a sudden, his employer is asking for a work permit. we have two children. we just bought a home. what are we going to do? i could not provide a work permit, so i said, just hope that your boss looks to the other side.
in the 1990's, i did not see people coming to ask, what are we going to do? then i started to think about what immigrants bring to the economy, and it is true. a lot of them were buying homes together. five siblings buying a 5-bedroom home. in those days, 90% of my clients were buying homes because they were putting their money together. immigration started with the raids and then someone gets deported, and then another one. when the subprime problems got
us into this bad economy, you also had all this enforcement from the immigration. they would go after good people, arrived in the middle of the night to get someone from their home. i have a case of a young man where immigration came to pick him up at 5:00 a.m. his wife is a citizen. the other siblings were citizens. by 3:00 in the afternoon, he was already in tijuana in his pajamas with no money, no nothing. fortunately, the other people who were arrested gave him $10 so that he could call his family so that they could wear him money and he could go home. -- wire him money and he could
go home. these are the types of cases i see. we need this immigration reform, but what i wish we could do it is -- i would like to see a media campaign. we want you to present the benefits that immigrants bring here. what we see everywhere is that immigrants are taking jobs away, they are the pressing salaries, they are committing crimes. that is not true. republicans to press our salaries. -- depress ourur salaries. [applause] look -- [laughter]
look at all of the major cities around the country. what do they have? they have a vibrant economic immigrant community. san francisco depends on tourism. who goes to those places? immigrants. we need to engage with the community to and -- believe their fears. i invited a lot of people to come here, and a few i can recognize, but they are afraid to talk to you. you need to go to the communities, churches, places of gathering and tell them, yes we are government, but we want to have you continue to help us.
i see those ads on the buses. maybe it could say, did you know 91% of immigrants bring good things to the country? that is what we need to do. just show the positive that immigrants bring to the community. >> thank you. >> thank you. commissioners, we have quite a stellar panel and we look forward to hearing their insights. the commission has invited a few individuals to provide firsthand testimony on how current immigration policies are affecting their lives, work, and dreams. each of these individuals has demonstrate courage in sharing personal stories and experiences with you.
we will first hear from and the co-founder of the dream activists. following that, we will hear from andy macai. following andy, many of you have read about these two's struggle to stay in the country, and their situation has made them activists. we will hear from shirley and jay. they are reprented by an extraordinary attorney. we are going to start now.
>> hello, everyone. thank you for inviting me to speak my parents brought me here when i was 14, 10 years ago, from the island country of fiji and the south pacific. and they came here illegally and applied for a green card. no one told them it would take 10 years to get it. my grandmother is a u.s. citizen and today my parents and my sister, my entire family here are citizens. i am the only undocumented in my family. that is because immigration officials refused to follow the law. i will explain why. it took so long to get my parents residency that i aged out. they do not care when you turn 21.
they tell you to get in the back of the line. even waiting nine years, they are asking me to go to the back of the line again. i will be 23 by the time i can immigrate to the country legally. in the meantime, growing up, my parents had no idea this would happen. i graduated from college with a bachelor's in political science with a master's i as well. we fought hard to stay in the country. according to the law of the land, i am supposed to be able to use my old date for filing for immigration to the country, but so far immigration is refusing to let me use that old date, so i am in a month now. i cannot go back to fiji because i would have a 10-year ban on me.
my mother has a small cleaning business she need help with. when i was in college, i used to spend the day talking about the political and economic agendas, and then at night, i would be a janitor. that was my life. in 2007, the dream act, which would give undocumented citizens like me the opportunity to stay in the country, -- me and a group of other students looked at this group of undocumented students. we are fighting for the dream act to pass. we want to stay in this country to fight to stay where we call
home. [applause] >> good evening. i am not a resident, an alien. small businesses are the heart of the american economy, they are responsible for half of all private-sector jobs and create roughly 70% of new jobs in the past decade. small-business this are not only job generators but are at the heart of the american dream. how does the u.s. government treat small businesses when it comes to immigrants and non- immigrants setting up businesses? i can only speak to my own to tradition on this but i have heard countless episodes of others in the same predicament. eight years ago, i was in scotland running my production company which provides video production and graphic designs
for a wide range of clients, both corporate and non- corporate, from start up to the united nations. in 2007, we started a u.s. office to start a u.s. presence. my company only has two full employees but we use a lot of contract employees or events and projects. our total payable has amounted to over $1 million and all profits have been reinvested in the u.s., nothing sent back to the uk. here is my experience with emigrations -- immigration's. 2002, they issued a visa. 2003, successfully renewed in the u.s. be given eight months to prove our viability.
thanks to my attorney for her experience and patience. 2005, the says are renewed successfully. but we have to return to the u.k. for processing because the laws changed. basically, when i try to renew again, they did not believe that i was a manager. also, they refused to recognize our employee as a professional, even though a four-year degree would exactly mirror the situation. we have been in limbo for 15 months until last friday when we found out the appeal was dismissed on grounds similar to the original denial. at least we know now. or something as important as a green card process, there should be the opportunity to appear before an official to make your
case. during the green card fiasco, we were unable to leave the country for family bereavement. we were landlocked. we could not get a renewal of women for five months which must be done outside the u.s. why, if you have already had success of renewals? we ended up driving to tia juana with our family in order to return to the uk. we then had only five months to verify. we flew back to the u.k. for the interview which cost about $6,000, rather than processing in the u.s. embassies were rude to me and my bike in the process. -- wife in the process.
we were a small company but had been in the u.s. for eight years, and had one of our best years. they seemed unaware of general business and tax accounting practices. however, my wife developeafter h the officer, the visa was approved. afton and there was finger wagging saying that you need to come up was something better than two years' time currently, there is no resolution for these types of green card holders. we will have to constantly trouble in the new at the will of immigration authorities. so how does this affect families? it affects our ability to run a
business with unpredictable but times. it makes you unproductive and therefore unproductive thanks to the huge amounts of repetitive information required. processing fees which are a burden to the families involved. it should be dealt with face-to- face at local offices or at least within the u.s. if you stress family, -- our l1 was granted three times and then the ninth three years later. are there any rays of hope? following my experience in london, i returned to the u.s., arriving at sfo. the immigration agents looked at my file and ask why i did not get a green card.
i told him i plan last year but it was denied. but they gave you an e2 investor visa, he said. i know, i said. he said, welcome back. [applause] >> thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this evening. i am a 44-year-old mother and help weiss -- housewife from pacifica, california. i am grateful to share my story with you on an issue that is so critically important to my family and others in the same situation. i am honored to be here today with my partner of 23 years jay
mercado. i met him as a graduation present when my father brought me to the u.s.. when we met, our love was instant. since then, we have been committed to each other and our family. our relationship continued even after i returned to the philippines, following the expiration of my six-month the set. our relationship was expansive given the long distance. when i return to the philippines, i learned my cousin, who murdered my mother and sister, and almost killed me as well, was released from prison after serving only 10- year sentence. i feared for my safety and i knew i was in danger and understood in order to meet, but
-- to live, i have to leave the philippines to jay, where i would feel safe. i hired an attorney to apply for legal asylum. my application was denied, so my attorney filed an appeal to the ninth circuit court, and jay and i requested and a regular basis on theúagr status of the appeal. again and again we were told that it would take a long time before the court gets to my case. i did not know it, but my appeal had also been denied. my attorney never told me. all the while, we thought i was legal in we were waiting for the decision of the court. jay and i went about building our lives together. i gave birth to my two kids.
they are the biggest joy in our lives, and i became a full-time mother. our family has always been like every american family, and i am so proud of jay and the twins. the boys attended catholic schools through sixth grade. they excelled in glasses inclasses and have been at the top of their class. i've volunteered at the school when they need someone to pitch in. i am always the first one to call. jay was a member of the school board at the catholic school. i am a eucharist the minister at the good shepherd church where jay and i