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Will This Be the Year Arizona Turns Blue?

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Arizona has long been a testing ground for anti-immigrant laws and talk, but the state has seen a political shift. Analysts suggests that demographic changes, including a growing number of transplants from more liberal states and Latino voters, are responsible for the shift. This is partially true, but the origins of Arizona’s evolution into a,

Arizona has long been a testing ground for anti-immigrant laws and talk, but the state has seen a political shift. Analysts suggests that demographic changes, including a growing number of transplants from more liberal states and Latino voters, are responsible for the shift. This is partially true, but the origins of Arizona’s evolution into a pivotal battleground state can be attributed to a longer history and a broader cast of characters.

The extremism of the state’s Republican leaders has alienated voters, and given rise to coalitions of Democrats, Independents and even Republicans, who have come together to work toward a lasting political transformation of the desert Southwest. Their efforts have come to bear. In 2011 voters recalled the architect of the nation’s toughest immigration laws, in 2016 they ousted a controversial sheriff, and in 2018, they sent a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in 30 years. Joe Biden is currently polling ahead of Donald Trump.

Arizona’s anti-immigrant surge predates Joe Arpaio, but his election as the sheriff of Maricopa County in 1993 was a galvanizing moment for the activism that is now helping turn the state. In the 1990s, Mr. Arpaio built Tent City, an outdoor Arizona jail that he once described as a “concentration camp.” Under his watch, Maricopa County entered into an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allowed the local police to enforce federal immigration laws.

Immigrant rights activists led the charge against Russell Pearce, the state senator who sponsored Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, and Jan Brewer, then governor, who signed the bill into law in 2010. Known as the “show me your papers” law, it required the police to verify the immigration status of any detained or arrested person they suspected of being in the state illegally. Its passage was a flash point in the battle over immigration, giving birth to a new generation of young immigrants that organized protests, boycotts, and mounted legal challenges.

That same year, Ms. Brewer also signed a “constitutional carry” firearm law, which grants anyone over the age of 21 the right to carry a hidden, loaded firearm without a license. The shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords just months after the law was signed politicized the issue of gun violence in the state. The debate over guns is especially important in Arizona because shootings by police officers have risen steadily, and the Phoenix Police Department has been called “the deadliest force in the country.”

Like activists elsewhere, Arizonans have protested killings by the police in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. They’ve decried the killings of Dion Johnson in Phoenix, or Carlos Ingram Lopez in Tucson. But residents of Phoenix and Tucson — the seats of Maricopa and Pima Counties, home to three-quarters of the state’s population — have long protested and organized against police violence.

The pandemic and renewed civil unrest have accelerated the sense of urgency, but Democrats have been organizing not just for the moment, but also for the future.

The turning point when Arizona could become blue has been looming over the horizon for some time. President Trump won by only 3.5 percent of the vote in 2016. The 2018 midterm Senate election — when the Democratic candidate, Kyrsten Sinema, defeated the Republican incumbent, Martha McSally — was an important moment in Arizona’s evolution. In the House, Democrats picked up four seats, and today Republicans have only a one-seat advantage.

But even if Arizona has trended toward the Democrats for a while, 2020 “is our time,” said Alex Steele, an organizer with Arizona Ready, a movement working to defeat Mr. Trump in November. Indeed, what’s remarkable is how organizations have formed over the past decade to advocate for the rights of immigrants, workers, teachers, people of color facing police violence and Native Americans.

During a virtual conference hosted by Arizona Ready, earlier this summer, the focus was on the effort to defeat Republicans at the state and national levels. The fact that Mr. Biden and the Senate candidate Mark Kelly part company with progressive organizations on important issues won’t prevent progressives from supporting them. There are just too many “overlapping crises” that will “activate people on the left,” according to Emily Kirkland, the executive director of Progress Arizona.

Without a doubt, Republicans will be mobilized, too. Polls have found that Mr. Trump’s supporters in Arizona are more enthusiastic. Mr. Biden’s support among Latinos, especially Latino youth, has decreased over the past few months. The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a precipitous decline in voter registration in Arizona, and Republican leaders are fighting to make absentee voting more difficult. In a larger sense, it won’t be easy to flip a state that has been reliably conservative for so long.

If Arizona does flip, Democrats would break the hold that Republicans have had on the state since the mid-20th century. A Democratic victory in Arizona may not signal the rise of progressivism that many on the left hope for — and which these times of manifest injustice and inequality seem to demand — but wins there would signal the beginning of an end to the ugliness of the past decade and more. It would be a dramatic reversal of fortunes for a party and a president who’ve long viewed Arizona as a stronghold. In 2016, Arizona’s Republican leaders made Trump the embodiment of all they’d worked for, and it may spell their demise.

Geraldo L. Cadava (@gerry_cadava) is the author of “The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, From Nixon to Trump.”

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The Green Card Process Through the Lens of a DMV Visit

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As an immigration attorney, I try to provide clients with a basic, yet insightful, understanding of various aspects of a complex immigration system. It’s not always easy, but I often find analogies to something commonplace can be helpful.  One analogy I’ve found to work well to explain the green card process beyond describing its mere,

As an immigration attorney, I try to provide clients with a basic, yet insightful, understanding of various aspects of a complex immigration system. It’s not always easy, but I often find analogies to something commonplace can be helpful.  One analogy I’ve found to work well to explain the green card process beyond describing its mere sequence of form filings likens the process to a visit to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

In my practice area of business immigration law, green card processes are mostly employment-based and involve the successive filing of a labor certification application, immigrant petition, and adjustment of status application (with the first not always required and the latter two sometimes eligible for concurrent filing). So I’ll refer to these types of filings in describing the analogy here.  But variations of the analogy may be equally applicable to other types of green card processes, such as those in which the aspiring permanent resident will apply for an immigrant visa overseas rather than adjustment of status within the United States, as well as those based on family relationships and those available to asylees and refugees.

The trappings of a visit to the DMV, no matter the state, may be familiar to you: the issuance of a waiting number determining your place in a queue, followed by a long wait for your number to be called at one of several counters to file required paperwork, followed yet again by a lengthy wait for your paperwork to be processed, and eventually – hopefully – approved without issue.  The counter at which you’ll be called, and the length of the corresponding queue (or maybe in some fortunate instances, the absence of one altogether), often depends on specific factors, such as the type of service you’re seeking.

Just as you’re issued a waiting number upon entry into a DMV office, aspiring permanent residents are issued a priority date when the first major filing in their green card process (either the labor certification application or immigrant petition) is submitted.  The priority date is the date this first filing is submitted and determines, once the immigrant petition is approved, the aspiring permanent resident’s place in any existing queue to apply for adjustment of status.

Similar to how you wait at the DMV for your number to be called to file your paperwork at the appropriate counter, aspiring permanent residents face varying wait times for their priority date to be “called” at a designated “counter” to apply for adjustment of status.  The “counter” in the green card process at which aspiring permanent residents must apply for adjustment of status is based on a combination of two main factors: their immigrant classification (which, when speaking with clients, I refer to as their “green card category”) and their country of chargeability (which I refer to as their country of birth).  Aside from some significant exceptions outside of the employment-based green card process,[1] the law limits the supply of green cards available each fiscal year.  Because the law allocates this limited supply based on a combination of both immigrant classification and country of chargeability, queues form at “counters” where the demand for green cards exceeds the available supply.  And the more severely demand exceeds supply, the longer the queue will be. This analogy helps to show why EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in India and China are often confronted with waits lasting many years for their priority date to be “called” at their designated counters,[2] while EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in most other countries often face no such queue.  In technical terms, the existence of a queue at a given “counter” means the availability of green cards associated with that counter’s classification and chargeability combination is “retrogressed.”  If there’s no queue, green card availability at that counter is “current.”

A visit to the DMV often entails a wait of several hours sitting and keeping watch of your designated counter at it serves the visitors who arrived before you until your own number is finally called.  Likewise, many aspiring permanent residents monitor the often plodding, month-to-month movement of “cut-off dates” in the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ monthly Visa Bulletins for the designated “counter” at which they must apply for adjustment of status.[3]  The Visa Bulletin for a given month contains various charts showing whether a queue for filing an adjustment of status application exists for any classification and chargeability combination, and if so, how long the queue is.  Combinations for which there is no queue are assigned a “C” notation, indicating that green card availability is current and that the adjustment of status application can thus be filed at any time that month, including in concurrence with an immigrant petition if it has not already been approved, and assuming any prerequisite labor certification has been granted. Combinations for which there is a queue, and for which green card availability is thus retrogressed, are denoted by a “cut-off date,” with older dates reflecting longer queues.  Aspiring permanent residents seeking to adjust status at a “counter” at which green card availability is retrogressed can track their place in the queue by comparing their priority date with the applicable cut-off date each month.  Priority dates that fall before the applicable cut-off date in a given month are those that have been “called,” indicating that much like counters at which green card availability is current, an adjustment of status application can be filed at any time that month, including in concurrence with an immigrant petition if it has not already been approved, and assuming again that any prerequisite labor certification has been granted.

Like processing of paperwork filed at a counter at the DMV, processing of an adjustment of status application may take a long time.  But eventually – hopefully – the application is approved without issue.  And unlike a visit to the DMV, having qualified counsel during the green card process can make all the difference in one’s chance of success.

[1] For example, “immediate relatives” (spouses and children of US citizens, and parents of US citizens if the citizen is at least 21 years old) are exempt from annual numerical limits on green card availability. INA 201(b)(2)(A)(i).
[2] Aspiring permanent residents for whom the queue for applying for adjustment of status involves a wait of several years, such as EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in India and China, commonly change jobs or employers in the course of their wait. Such a change can require a restart of the green card process since employment-based green card processes are generally job and employer specific.  But to allow aspiring permanents residents who change jobs or employers to keep their place in queue, the law permits them to retain their priority date under certain conditions if they are the beneficiary of a previously approved EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant petition, and likewise become the beneficiary of an approved EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant petition based on their new job or employer. 8 CFR 204.5(e). 
[3] US Citizenship and Immigration Service also publishes monthly updates indicating whether to use the Visa Bulletin’s Dates for Filing charts or its Final Action Dates charts, to determine whether an adjustment of status application may be filed.

Source: The Green Card Process Through the Lens of a DMV Visit

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