'Who thinks immigration policy works right now?'

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  • | 12:00 p.m. July 13, 2010
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by Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Staff Writer

Local attorney provides view of what may come

Immigration law has become a hot topic as Arizona pushes for immigration reform and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has challenged the legislation.

Local business leaders were presented with some insight and predictions on immigration policy Monday.

Marks Gray attorney Giselle Carson spoke Monday to the Meninak Club of Jacksonville. Carson practices primarily in U.S. and global immigration law.

“Back when I started to practice law, there were only two immigration lawyers in Jacksonville and they could only practice immigration law half-time and they would have to find some other practice to go along with it,” said Jim Rinaman, who recently celebrated 50 years in the practice of law. Rinaman, with Marks Gray, introduced Carson.

“Now Jacksonville has Bosnian, Filipino and Hispanic communities, to name a few, that need this service and Giselle has built a great practice,” said Rinaman.

Not only does Carson practice immigration law, but she also has personally experienced it as a Cuban immigrant who relocated to Canada and then the U.S.

After graduating from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2001, she began her career with Marks Gray in 2002.

“Who thinks immigration policy works in the United States right now?” Carson asked the 70 Meninak members.

No one raised a hand.

“Great, at least we agree on that,” said Carson.

The problems she has seen with the current immigration policy include: insufficient visa numbers for high-skilled or less-skilled workers, lack of enforcement of policy, inadequate responses from visa holders and lack of a comprehensive immigration plan.

Carson also didn’t see any hands go up when she asked another question.

“Who thinks that every state should have its own immigration policy?” she asked. “How difficult would that be for immigrants if each state had its own set of rules? We need to have a comprehensive plan to handle this.”

Carson said that all employers, not just those that hire immigrant workers, need to be cognizant of immigration law.

Interior enforcement of immigration policy includes I-9 and H-1B audits. All U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. H-1B status can be achieved when an employer petitions for an alien to come to the United States temporarily to perform services or labor, or to receive training.

Some of the changes in immigration policy that Carson sees “on the horizon” include: a limited registration period for conditional nonimmigrant status; work and travel authorizations; proven contributions through employment, education, military or volunteer service; criminal and security background checks; and evidence of physical presence, such as proof of employment or rent payments.

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