The Age of AVVO.com: Will We Fall Victim to the Q&A Addiction?

I discovered Avvo.com months after the legal controversy over whether it aids, confuses or libels the public and attorneys, respectively. I support Avvo.com, with my advertising dollars, responses, guides, along with time and effort.  I know that it prompts the same questions as all internet promotional tools available to the legal community. Avvo.com, in my opinion, can be efficient marketing tool when used properly.  I am still learning. Yet, we all have our modes and some work better than others.

Whether it is a Google-pimped website, a SuperLawyer page, lawyers.com, or a rock solid 10 point record on Avvo, there is still room to prove yourself to the skeptical.  The challenge is how and when to say when. The Q&A point spread is not everything. I’ve learned to live with it. I try to answer more sparingly. I choose to represent clients rather than become a perpetual slave to the public that surfs and serves up avvo.com questions.

Avvo.com provides lawyers a platform to demonstrate competence.  However, it depends upon the honor system on how to be ethically considerate to the public, among others, including your colleagues.  There are unspoken rules of the road. For that matter, eBay.com has evolved unwritten guidelines in that retail trade that encourage a sense of appreciation and respect.

Here are a few observation. First, the attorney who answers the most questions is not the most accessible nor able. Second, the Q&A points that an attorney accumulates may be based upon how many times he or she responds with the words, “I agree.” The ability to answer a question and score points with a few keystrokes gained from another’s  well thought out answer of another may evoke little public sympathy. Yet, points are still gained and attorney photos rise from the depths of avvo.com obscurity.

How does Avvo deter this wild west like shoot out? Well, it has limited impact. Yet, if you wish to answer a question on the coat tails of another attorney’s efforts, or snidly answer, think first. Avvo.com allows the person posting the question to pick the best answer.  This is true even if you disagree.  In addition, there is no 800 number to call if your practice falls victim to avvo enthusiasm.

What can you do as an attorney? Or as someone who has concern? Well, for the adept attorney, you may find a way to publicize the “best answer”  appreciation when it occurs. Yet, your general information should not create an attorney client relationship.  Attorneys can link the gratitude to  anywhere they deem appropriate.

This may wake up the public to your knowledge and appreciation of the law.  Whether the public ever rises and cares to call for anything other than a request for a free consultation is another challenge.

Yet, I certainly respect an attorney’s right “to agree.” Even if I try to refrain from the temptation out of subtle consent.  In a system where avvo.com legal guides are easily outdated, why post current news that will soon be obsolete?  Should attorneys perpetuate questionable discretion, rather than professionalism in public?

In the end it was an immigration attorney eager for U.S. Immigration visa lottery applicants, who proved to the world that some spam simply lacks good taste. Sorry Charlie! Some tuna may not be fit for consumption. However, the jury is still out to lunch.

I’ll try to send my compassion and kudos to colleagues in the future, but in private.

The DREAM Bill is Deferred, Again!

Yesterday, Congress voted to delay action on the Defense Bill.  In doing so, again, it left the long overdue DREAM Bill in limbo.  This Bill attempts to help some of the thousands of infants and children who were lawfully or unlawful brought into the U.S.   These children had no control in the decision to remain.

Now, many have grown up, attended grammar school, high school, and eventually graduated only to be locked out of the University Education system by the F-1 student visa process.  With unskilled jobs, these now grown and American educated residents have been swallowed up into our expanding black market economy. Only to be spit out whenever politicians put pressure on the Department of Homeland Security to raid a large target.

Former General Colin Powell, among many moderate and reasonable Republicans support the DREAM Bill. This law is not amnesty, since a number of applicants must be denied, where they are disqualified from immigration for other reasons.

The idea that all bills attempting to legalize those who are physically present in the U.S.  are an amnesty is a myth.  To call these people “illegal” is an injustice to desensitize their plight!

These kids, all grown up, are unlawfully present waiting for an answer.  Some claim that this is a somehow a partial amnesty.  Arguably, but in response, those familiar with the U.S. Immigration System appreciate the oppression that results in deporting residents who live in the U.S. for five, perhaps ten, even twenty or more years.

In deporting, and ignorning, we penalize  these residents for the acts of their parents and unforgiving immigration laws.  We also ignore the failure of Congress to reasonable fund immigration enforcement. Our sporadically enforced system of civil immigration laws challenge an already overburdened Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency that has much more serious priorities like human trafficking, terrorism and drug smuggling.

There is a misconception that a visa overstay or someone who entered without inspection  is a criminal.  As a matter of law, this is a myth.  The myth is perpetuated in the news as talking heads, who are not attorneys, make good faith, yet false claims to be immigration law experts.

Appropriate and humane, not indefinitely mean spirited, laws should be in place to regulate those who are not, and cannot, be timely removed from the U.S. Otherwise, we emotionally damage U.S. Citizens whose children, employees, parents, and spouses must be permanently deported based upon our current unforgiving system.

There is something extremely vindictive about deporting someone who has lived in the U.S. for over twenty years.  What part of ‘unconscionable’ do Americans fail to understand?

For more information, albeit somewhat unclear, the Washington Post has written this article.

The “A” Word: Who Gets to Be a Lawful Permanent Resident?

An “immigration amnesty” has never existed in U.S. Immigration History.  An immigration amnesty is imagined by the public.  Amnesty is a concept contrived by anti-immigration lobbyists.  Perhaps, also by those totally oblivious to the political reality of  the United States or Mexico.  Its use deters democracy and spurs injustice.  Yes, Mexico also has a serious mental block when comes to enacting realistic immigration laws, as well!  This hypocrisy is legendary.

For those who know, a person ‘may’ be placed in deportation proceedings upon denial for an immigration benefit.  This means that the DHS is sometimes lenient on those who make mistakes; civil immigration laws are complicated!  When the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, based upon Congressional mandate, is not lenient, the consequences are devastating to both U.S. Citizens and foreign born residents!

An amnesty purest will not press their luck.  Yet, a few attorneys know the secret.  They know that there has always been a need for a form of perpetual legalization.  However, calling “legalization” an amnesty more often distracts supporters.

The U.S. Body Politique, in general, considers “amnesty” to be a dirty word in immigration.  Let’s get used to it!  A perpetual and reasonable “Legalization,” not amnesty, is what purges those from the system who are questionable casualties in the road to immigration enforcement and reform.

So what should advocates for immigration enforcement and reform do?  Well, if we understand the definition of how the so-called amnesty of it all functions, it helps.  Those with experience accept that there are not enough dollars to hire enough immigration officers and judges.  Those who come in throngs to apply may lose money, but not their right to try try, again, even if they continue to fail miserably at getting a green card.  A nicer and more proper phrase for “green card status” is “lawful permanent residence [also “LPR” for short].  Some are indefinitely or permanently barred from immigration for petty reasons that may persist in the system regardless of reform.

Too many for too long are reasonably frightened of the Department of Homeland Security, which was once known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  This Agency makes quite a few oversights, but this would be expected when Congress under funds training and passes unrealistic laws.  The limited form of amnesty is why those who could not prove that they entered the U.S. before January 1, 1981 to the satisfaction of a skeptical immigration officer could avoid being wronged statistics.

These alleged unsuccessful throngs were not immediately referred to immigration court for deportation when their Legalization application was improperly or properly denied!  Yes, to this day there may be some who have lived unlawfully, under the radar for three decades without relief!  Others eventually become victims of immigration witch doctors who promised that an amnesty exists until D.H.S. executes a final deportation order.  What do we do with these people, who often become burnt out and oblivious to U.S.Immigration Law? Pretend that they do not exist?  Pretend that big brother is gonna get them?  Well, they’re not leaving.  By ignoring them, do we encourage un-policed human rights abuses within our own borders?

If we ever understand and admit the historical truths caused by shortsighted immigration laws, then we will stop abusing the term “amnesty.” We must start accepting some form of legalization for those who entered without inspection or overstayed their visas.  Too many of our acquaintances, friends and neighbors were taken advantage of (at times) by unscrupulous attorneys, immigration witch doctors, employers or foreign born parents.  Too many lost wages and their future, because our Federal Government lacks the tax base and political will to enforce and arguably prosecute the general population into immigration compliance.  Let’s face it; it just isn’t going to happen, whether we like it or not!

When we can face the simplest fact that civil immigration laws merit some limitations and a purge valve, then we will appreciate the countless U.S. human rights abuses that result from confusion, ignorance, and insensitivity.  We can ill afford the mean spirited ignorance that labels every effort to normalize the lives our our foreign born residents, “an amnesty!”

A legalization, not an amnesty, that closes the door on perpetual human rights abuses within and around our own borders preserves democracy as we know it.  Taxation without representation is a challenge!  However, let’s face it, there may be no amnesty, but there must be understanding and reckoning.  Otherwise our system of laws and the democracy for which we stand or fall will deteriorate from a warped sense of our immigration realities!

DREAM Bill: Senator Durban Needs Anonymous Examples

We have encouraged those who entered the U.S. at a young age, graduated from High School, but cannot leave to support the DREAM Bill.  This is not a law, so it is NOT an Act, yet.  This Bill has remained a bill for nearly a decade, because some think it is amnesty.

The Bill proposes to cure the injustice to infants and children, who involuntarily must leave the nation of their birth because of their parents only to face no future as adults in nation of their birth, which they no longer know, because they have lived here for so long.  The unlawful presence bar, along with no realistic non-immigration visa options, ruins most of their chances of returning to the nation where they were raised, that is, the U.S.

This came from Meg McCarthy of The National Immigration Justice Center:

July 12, 2010

To Whom it May Concern:

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) is looking for stories of people who would benefit from the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill that would give a select group of immigrant students the chance to earn legal status. He says these stories will help him influence senators who are on the fence about immigration reform. Stories should be emailed to Dreamers@durbin.senate.gov. Please see the senator’s announcement with more details below.
Tell Senator Durbin Your Dreams!

Senator Dick Durbin, the lead sponsor of the DREAM Act, is gathering the stories of young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill that would give a select group of immigrant students the chance to earn legal status.  You may be eligible for the DREAM Act if:

  • You came to the United States as a child (15 or under);
  • You are a long-term U.S. resident (five years or more); and
  • You have graduated (or will graduate) from high school or have obtained (or will obtain) a GED;

Senator Durbin needs your help as he works to pass the DREAM Act. Telling the stories of DREAM Act students is the best way to build support for the bill.  If you are a DREAM Act student, send your story to Dreamers@durbin. senate.gov.

Tell Senator Durbin:

  • When did you come to the United States?
  • Where did you come from?
  • Where do you live?
  • Where are you going to school?
  • What are you studying?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What would you like to do when you graduate?
  • What are your dreams for the future?
  • Have you ever been in deportation proceedings?

Some of the stories will be posted on the DREAM Act page of Senator Durbin’s website.

At your request, your name and/or your story will be kept strictly confidential.

Unlawful Immigration, Legalization, Propaganda and the International Condition.

We have reached the point where foreigners have remained unlawfully for a generation.  Now, their children are born and experience the fruits of U.S. Citizenship.  A few who entered as innocent infants still await forgiveness.  Yet, America supposedly does not believe in corruption of blood.  The reason why the DREAM Bill should become law is to protect these infants who have often reached adulthood.

The anti-immigration folks will continue steaming, because their job will never be done.  Many have concerns about zero population growth, which is an arguably lofty and reasonble goal.  Yet, this desire is distorted when it comes to the enforcement and enactment of some of our immigration laws.  They have made many American Citizens miserable psychological wrecks.  Too many feel compelled to ignore lawful immigration as a viable lifestyle.

Too many American Citizens continue to ignore our employment immigration laws, since the laws are too often dubious and unworkable.  The meanspirited, who cannot get Congress to spend enough of our tax dollars,  now want to make indefinite generations illegal and overcome with perpetual grief.

Such a plan will ultimately challenge our democracy as was done in the Middle East to Christians, Jews, and Palestinians, alike.  In essence, our current immigration laws eliminate representation of the people, by the people, and for the people.  These nativists have lived too long without a conscience to appreciate the current reality of major metropolitan America.

We persist with an immigration legal system akin to an unrealistic citizen state.  Like fallen Rome, will our nation be more content with a coliseum built to feed our unlawful immigrants to the lions?  This, for the sake of the feigned superiority of purportedly law abiding Americans?  We must put a halt to our hypocrisy!

There remains an unrealistic desire to create some sort of pure American Citizenry.  Such rhetoric neglects America’s roots as a nation of strength through diversity.  We are a nation of immigrants; lawful or unlawful. We must appreciate and strengthen our worldly bonds between nations.  Our friendship, peace, and tolerance reasonably exercised  improves international democracy and diplomacy.

America needs to get a grip on its people and its power.  America needs to welcome the newcomer, guest worker, or visitor with ‘reasonable safeguards’ in place. We need to greet with the appreciation, dignity and respect that each reasonable individual deserves to an appropriate extent.  Americans, among others, should try to be the best international citizens in a world even if challenged by bigotry, prejudice, persecution and xenophobia.  There should be funding for enforcement in conjunction with a reasonable statute of limitation on certain types of deportation.

We need to confirm to the world how we appreciate, care and understand culture; both ours and those of other nations.  Our media should promote and recognize the fact that most of us do quite well as ambassadors of good will.

Yet, a few in the media may thrive on exaggeration and ignorance for power and the almighty dollar.  Perhaps, they seek feeding frenzies with critiques and fixations upon the isolated, extremely bigoted, selfish, and vain.  Unfortunately, the folks that may sometimes deserve less of our attention are too often given the most. They can too often bully the pulpit away from more reasonable Citizens depending upon the issue and personalities involved.

A moral form of legalization for the eventual immigration of those who have slightly strayed just makes good sense. Sometimes, enforcement is just not enough!  We need to thin the herd!  We know that some will be disqualified for legalization; this will be based upon their criminal and immigration records.  There should be limits on how long Citizens hold a grudge against those who  entered without inspection. The United States must be part of the cure, not simply be allowed to perpetuate the mess.

Mexico also seems like a cesspool of insensitivity to lawful immigration. Perhaps, its economy is in need of a legalization upgrade, as well!  Enacting a form of legalization can create an immigration statute of limitations, albeit temporary.  Legalization is similar to more permanent laws enacted in developed nations like the United Kingdom.  America, it’s time to be civil with immigration.

Does the U.S. Now Encourage Emigration?

The newer immigration laws since IMMACT 90 on have created family disunity.  The newer employment based visa system means that the best and the brightest may have to choose between staying in the U.S. or keeping their families together.  Some can wait up to two decades for their siblings to immigrate.  Some can wait nearly that amount of time for their children to immigrate.

Many assume that petition for a husband or wife is automatic.  It’s not!  Some discover, after marriage and application, that their spouse cannot immigrate to  the U.S.  Even the simple possession of small amounts of cocaine may not necessarily be undone without extreme planning.  The law provides few options after 1996.

Without an opportunity to legally work, but many temptations to work with inconsistent and unpredictable enforcement, we create a nation in fear of the DHS.  Yet, we do little to penalize employers.  As a result, American employers view the immigration laws as a mere formality.  The laws  become a means to ‘encourage’ unlawful workers to do their jobs.  The insinuated threat of calling DHS is enough to forget about that paycheck.  In the end, with both sides depending upon each other.  Unfortunately, the DHS becomes an nearly predictable formality.

This is not the way that the anti-immigration forces expected the laws to be treated.  Yet, those who advocated for more harsh laws have been unable to do much to enforce them.  They choose instead to heckle unlawful employers.  They try to cover for the unfunded mandate with videocameras in an effort to get more funds for the walls that some tunnel under or simply drive over.  They also oppose reasonable efforts to reform the system with more enforceable options for legal immigration.

What was once lawful immigration is now unlawful.  There are too many unenforceable bars that simply chase residents into black market employment.  OSHA has few whistleblowers, because too many are afraid that DHS will come with it.

There are also other triggers which suddenly and unpredictable stop the immigration of the unwary.  We end up with a system of potholes with no asphalt to fill the gaps that prevent an unjust society.  For those who say, we told you so, imagine workers who look, speak and sound just like Americans, only they are not.  Who is a Citizen?  Who is not?  Even the DHS has trouble.  Employers can find a way, but not their co-workers.

For those Americans were never touched by the Immigration laws, consider yourself lucky.  All it takes is an unexpected twist and your U.S. Citizen son or daughter may be dangling out in Dusseldorf mit ihr ehegatte.  Auf wiedersehen? Nein!

Comments?

Observing the Macabre at EOIR: Some Suggestions for Improvement.

The challenge with immigration law is that it is administrative law.  It is subject to abuse by both I.C.E. attorneys and the private bar.  I hear from too many in the private bar upset with incivility, but few, if any, file a complaint or can create an effective liaison. 

 The Immigration Judges, Assistant Chief Counsels and court clerks are rarely sanctioned.  However, the same may be said of a few in the private bar, who seem arguably shrouded in teflon, as well. 

The abuses continue with minimal oversight or sanctions to the best of my knowledge.  The OIG’s office, nor Chief Counsel seems effective at pursuing and correcting abuses. 

Too often (once is too much) the private bar, and even I.C.E. attorneys, look to those who are abused and act as follows:

1. Show disrespect with arguable ongoing abusive conduct or indifference, even if arguably unintentional.

2. Encourage those that may be disrespected to pursue disciplinary action, which appears counterproductive and ineffective to some. 

Too many colleagues have more concern over the vindictiveness that may follow a reasonable, perhaps even successful, complaint.  Groups like AILA should create a more effective liaison to encourage civility.  Ultimately, the cycle of disrespect has to stop with the abusers.

The private bar must find ways to reasonably deal with the few ACC’s who demonstrate incivility. There is no excuse.  Otherwise, a vicious cycle persists. I.C.E. attorneys, among  others, must act and look inward, at times. 

The challenge is that there is questionably effective liaison.  AILA claims to act in good faith, but it seems unable to pursue Headquarters at Falls Church or I.C.E. on issues of civility.  The abuse of  colleagues and incivility towards any attorney, private or public, brings the system of justice into disrepute. 

I encourage those at the Chicago District Counsel’s Office, among  others within the justice system, to consider the following suggestions:

1. If you have something innappropriate to say about an attorney, even your own co-workers, use the proper forum.  Let the Judges make the decisions.

2. Don’t condemn, criticize or complain about other attorneys and staff in front of the judge’s clerks, you may eventually bring the same disrespect upon yourselves.

3. Speaking with disrespect, in private, often reveals itself in public.  If you have concerns, then speak with the objective in private, not to others outside their presence. You might learn something.

4. Do not jump to conclusions.

5. Prepare for the hearing.  If you do not have much time  to prepare, then contact the private or I.C.E. attorney of record before the hearing.  Maybe, you will understand and more efficiently resolve the case to prevent injustice. 

6. If a private attorney leaves voicemail for an ACC, then the ACC should carefully listen and respond.  This is how to show respect, even if the reply is brief and to the point.  Private counsel should do the same.

7. Carefully review the ‘A file’ and check for correspondence from private counsel before the hearing.  Ask for clarification ‘before’ the hearing.

The Immigration Courts should do the best to offer a just, neutral and respectful forum for all attorneys.  EOIR should create a better sense of justice for foreigners impacted by ultimate consequences of many notices to appear. 

EOIR Administrative Staff who feel the need to treat others with disrespect should reconsider their professions.  Perhaps, it is time to transfer, resign or retire.

Pitting the clerks as well as the private and or public bar against each other is a macabre means to encourage injustice.  We have overcrowded and understaffed courts.  We should seek appropriate staffing levels. Incivility is pointless; it further chisels away at the foundation of objectivity and the procedural due process of law.