Posts Tagged ‘bashyam spiro’

Bashyam Spiro LLP – Immigration Law Group Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary

November 15th, 2010
posted by at 8:00 pm

In commemoration of our 15 year anniversary, Bashyam Spiro is hosting a virtual birthday party with special features online to thank clients and staff for years of meaningful memories. 

As part of the anniversary celebration, the firm has been collecting memories shared by staff within the Immigration Meditation blog during the coming month.

Share Your Best Bashyam Spiro Stories.

Please help us memorialize our 15th birthday by sharing your best Bashyam Spiro memories with us on our Facebook Fan Page Wall or by sharing your comments below.

Guidelines: We welcome your thoughts, but please refrain from the use of obscenities, personal attacks or racial slurs. All comments are subject to these terms.

What's so crazy about immigration reform?

October 26th, 2010
posted by at 4:57 pm

By, Murali Bashyam, Esq.

Define insanity.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

So what does Einstein’s definition of insanity have to do with immigration?

In an immigration-related article Atlanta Immigration Examiner, Inger Eberhart, in all of her infinite immigration wisdom, tries to make the point that a recent Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (CIR)(HR 4321) introduced in the House of Representatives is exactly like Ronald Reagan’s ‘failed’ 1986 amnesty, and therefore the push for immigration reform is insane.

1986 Amnesty

In 1986, amnesty was granted to approximately 2.7 million illegal aliens.  By 1997, the illegal alien population increased to over 5 million according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

She says:

Today, there are 12-20 million illegal aliens in the US.  Clearly, Amnesty 2010 (or today’s term, Comprehensive Immigration Reform) does not stop illegal immigration, it only increases it.

The difference between 1986 and 2010 Comprehensive Immigration Reform

None of the CIR bills introduced in Congress resemble Reagan’s 1986 amnesty.  What Reagan did was a true amnesty – he granted something very close to Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card”) status to illegal aliens who met certain requirements.  These CIR bills do not grant automatic ‘green card’ status to anyone.  Instead, they create a separate immigration status for illegal aliens who qualify.  After that, these aliens will have to go through the long and cumbersome “green card” process just like any other immigrant who wants to live in the United States.

The author of the immigration article referred to earlier, indirectly blames the 1986 amnesty for the increased numbers of illegal aliens in the United States.  She also says that CIR will not stop illegal immigration.

The amnesty in 1986 did not singularly play a role in increasing illegal immigration.  There are many factors that contribute to illegal immigration, including enforcement, country conditions and the big one – ECONOMY.

As our country currently experiences what some say is the worst recession since the Great Depression, fewer illegal immigrants are coming to the U.S. and, in fact, more are going home.

CIR should not be confused with stopping illegal immigration.  Stopping illegal immigration is related to enforcement.  We can build the Great Wall of China across our southern border and basically shut down illegal immigration from Mexico, but that does not impact the illegal immigrants who are already in the U.S.

Call us crazy, but we will continue to do what we can to help immigrants achieve the American dream day in and day out, because they have families, jobs and they contribute to our economy.  Many are young children who have grown up here and call America home.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform directly affects all of them.  It affects all of us. We don’t think that is insane.

Einstein Insanity Quote

Einstein's Definition of Insanity

Response to LinkedIn Question related to Illegal Immigration

October 13th, 2010
posted by at 4:03 pm

I recently saw this immigration question posed on a LinkedIn page:

Linked In Immigration Question

My thoughts

1. We should not allow illegal immigration. We do need to do something about the illegal immigrants who are already here.   Deporting all of them is not the right answer!  We need smart and fair Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

2. Our ‘means and programs’ that allow for legal immigration are outdated and terrible.

Here are a few examples of why the current immigration system doesn’t work:

  • If a U.S. company wants to sponsor a foreign professional worker for permanent residency (“green card”), the process could take between 7-15 years.  In today’s global economy, what professional worker is going to wait that long when countries such as Chile, India, China, Russia and others are providing great incentives for people to come and work there?  How will U.S. companies compete in the long-term with companies overseas who are able to attract the best talent?
  • The U.S. has one of the best education systems in the world.  But when a foreign student comes to the U.S. and earns his/her Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD, there is no easy mechanism for them to stay here.  Most want to remain in the U.S., work and contribute to our country, but many are leaving because our immigration system doesn’t work out for them.  Why would the U.S. educate these people and then allow them to use their skills elsewhere?
  • Until very recently, it would take a U.S. permanent resident between 4-6 years to sponsor his/her spouse for permanent residency.  Given that being a U.S. permanent resident or “green card” holder is one step below U.S. citizenship, why should he/she be separated from their spouse for that long?  Similarly, why should it take over 5 years for a U.S. citizen to sponsor his/her over 21 children?
  • Why isn’t India included in the E-2 investor program?  Even business investors from Pakistan and Bangladesh can invest money in the U.S., create a business and jobs and get an E-2 investor visa.  However, investors from India, a country that is a friend of the United States and has one of the most booming economies in the world, cannot.
  • Why isn’t there a lawful program that allows companies that need unskilled labor to obtain it from outside the U.S. if they cannot find adequate U.S. workers to do the job?

What can the U.S. do to address the illegal immigration problem?

We could start by doing something about the illegal immigrants who are here, as well as completely reform our legal immigration system to keep up with today’s global economy.

These are  important issues that should be addressed separately, however.  Continuously linking them together will hamper our efforts to reform any of them.

Continuing the Immigration Dialogue

We recently hosted a Webinar on the current state of immigration and how a change like the SKIL Bill could be a welcome change.

Check it out and tell us what you think: http://www.slideshare.net/mbashyam/webinar-dialogue-on-the-skil-bill

Blog Article By: Murali Bashyam, Esq.

New Address? Don't Forget To Tell USCIS.

September 3rd, 2010
posted by at 5:22 pm

If you have filed an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and you move to a new address it is important to notify them of the change.

The law requires that most non-U.S. citizens report a change of address within 10 days of moving by completing a Form AR-11, Change of Address. Our latest Immigration Minute video will show you how you can complete Form AR-11 to notify USCIS of their new address on a pending case online at www.uscis.gov.  

Completing these legal requirements and submitting the necessary forms does not update an address on any applications or petitions pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you have filed any application or petition with USCIS, and it is still pending a decision, you should keep USCIS and your immigration attorney informed of any change of address so you can get any notices or decisions. You can now do this electronically on the USCIS website for most applications and petitions at the same time you electronically complete your Form AR-11.

Filling out the electronic Form AR-11 is only the first step. When changing the address associated with any pending cases you should know your receipt number, new and old address, as well as the last date and port of entry into the U.S.

Any notices or documents USCIS sends to you are considered official Government mail. If your name is not on the mailbox and/ or registered with the local U.S. Postal Service Office, the Postal Service may not deliver official Government mail to you. Please remember to register your name and new address with the local post office and to put your name on your mailbox.

You may find this and more information on our website at: www.bashyamspiro.com or call us at 919-830-0840.

What I Did with the First Dollar I Earned

August 27th, 2010
posted by at 6:36 pm

Most business owners save the first dollar they make.  It’s usually taped or framed somewhere on their business premises.  You’ve probably seen it before.  

I didn’t do that. 

When I started this immigration law firm 15 years ago, I took the very first check I received from a client and bought Meera, our family’s German Shepherd. 

My sister and I were both living with my parents in Raleigh at the time.  I had just graduated from law school, and was starting a law practice.  I had no money, just law school debt.   So living with the folks made sense.

We had always had a dog growing up.  Our first was a black lab named Tina.  My sister and I were little and living in Canada at the time.  Someone had abandoned Tina by the side of a highway.  She was only a small, scared puppy, and I’m sure that experience resulted in her lifelong fear of cars.  My dad saw her and brought her home in a box.  We kept her, and I named her after my sister’s best friend.

After we moved from Canada to the U.S., we got Ranger, an English Setter.  My homeroom teacher at the time said she had these puppies, and if nobody took them they would be put to sleep.  That scare tactic worked.  I took the puppy pictures to my parents that night and sold them on Ranger.   He turned out to be a wonderful dog.

Many years later, I guess it was the nostalgia of being back home that made me decide to buy another one.   When we lived in Canada before moving to the U.S., there was a German Shepherd that lived across the street from us.  A police dog no less!  It saved our lives once.  It killed a wild wolf half-breed that was coming after my sister and me as we walked around the block.

My dad also grew up with one in India.  I’ve seen the old black and white pictures – my dad, who was very small as a child, with this big, beautiful, majestic, guardian German Shepherd.  I felt every family should have one.  We knew the breed well, and I wanted one that we could call our own.

My sister and I saw an ad in the paper and drove to Sanford, North Carolina to look at a litter of German Shepherd puppies.   When we got there, I can still remember getting out of the car and seeing between 5-7 cute little puppies romping around in the owner’s front yard, which had soft, dark green grass.

We made our rounds, as most people do, going from puppy to puppy to see which one ‘feels right.’  After all, it’s a big decision.  If the dog remains healthy, it will likely be with you for the next 15 years, so you want make sure to buy the one with the right personality. 

By the way, when you are 25 years old, which is what I was at the time, 15 years seemed like an eternity.  When you’re 40, which is what I am now, 15 years might as well be 15 days.

Of all the puppies, Meera was the most aloof.  She didn’t play like the rest of them.  She didn’t even come when we called her. 

Meera was doing her own thing. 

What also set Meera apart from the rest of the litter was her ear.  One was bent at the top.  I asked the owner if that was normal.  He said, yes, it was normal for some Shepherd puppies to have bent ears, and that it would straighten up as she got older.  I believed him. That damn ear didn’t straighten out for years , even making the vets wonder whether it ever would. It did give Meera character though.

My sister and I chose this ‘loner’ puppy and brought her home.  Our mother immediately put her in a little basket.  Meera was that small at the time.  Small and fluffy.  She turned into a rambunctious puppy, not the quiet, aloof one we first saw just a few hours earlier.  And like most puppies, she was mischievous.

As the months passed, Meera’s teething began.  She was always chasing everyone around the house, biting at our ankles.  Those teeth were razor sharp, and her jaws were getting stronger.  But Meera didn’t know any better.  She didn’t know that her biting actually hurt us! 

Ever the disciplinarian, I started locking her in the bathroom when she bit me.  After some whining, she figured out that she didn’t like the closet, and the only reason she was in there was her behavior.  Meera learned, and as the smart dog that she was, she stopped coming after me.  The same cannot be said for the rest of the family! 

In hindsight, we have fond memories of those times.  But in reality, the teething period was painful!

Time went by, as it always does, and Meera grew into an adult German Shepherd.  The teething stopped, and she turned into a wonderful and loving dog.  I will never forget how she would always come to me and press herself against my leg.  So many of my suits had German Shepherd hair all over them, but I didn’t care.  It was the ultimate sign of affection.

After a few years, I moved into a small condo in downtown Raleigh.  I couldn’t keep Meera there, so I left her with my parents.  My dad and mom loved her, and I felt she would be a good companion and guardian to them.  That turned out to be right.  Meera took care of them, and my parents also took care of her.

That little loner puppy with the bent ear was special. 

In her life, she harassed enough postmen, chased enough rabbits, and barked enough at night to piss off neighbors.  Oh, and she hated thunderstorms and lightning.  It’s funny to watch such a big, strong dog turn into a coward at times!  And, as I found out last week, she had gained an affinity for ice cream as she got older.

If Tina saw our child years, and Ranger saw our early teen years, Meera witnessed our early adult years. 

She watched me become very busy as a professional, as my law practice grew from one person to ten.  She experienced my sister getting married and move to Dallas.  She lived through my sister’s first child.   Meera met my girlfriend, Cheryl, who later became my wife.  I could go on.  She was there for all the major events of the last 15 years.  She saw my entire family grow older.  We saw her grow older as well, until her body eventually gave out.

We put Meera to sleep on Saturday August 14th, one day after I turned 40. 

It was time, but even after a couple of weeks it’s hard not to think of what an important part of my life Meera was.

It was nice that my sister, Vidhya, and my nephew, Rohan, were in town and could be there.  It was also nice that the vets came to our house.  Meera died peacefully where she belonged – at home.   I’m sure that Meera appreciated that very much. And I’m sure my dad is hurting the most – he had a special bond with that dog.   We all did, in different ways. And as much of a struggle with sadness it has been over the past few few weeks, it’s also changed my view on life, how truly precious every moment is and how every dollar spent can change the course your life forever.

The happiness that Meera brought to all of our lives was invaluable. She reminded me of those little moments in between the important events and all of the people and pets that are there to share each day with us make up a life.

Meera, Thank you for being a silent teacher and a friend. I hope you’re still chasing rabbits somewhere and having fun.  Rest In Peace my dear friend.

Kibera Kids Teach Lesson On Happiness

August 20th, 2010
posted by at 7:18 pm

Guest Post by: Rachel Prather (daughter, Pam Prather, Bashyam Spiro)

 When I stepped out of the car, the first thing I noticed was the smell.  We had driven through streets that were mostly unpaved and past homes and shops that were made of wood with tin roofs.  I noticed all of these things on the way to Kibera, Africa, but the first thing that struck me when I stepped out of the car was the smell. 

I thought to myself, “How can these people live here?”  That question lingered for the rest of the morning.

We walked through the streets of the slum, on our way to a new health clinic.  I was wearing a skirt, as we were advised that it would be culturally insensitive for the women to wear pants or shorts.  I was also wearing flip-flops. 

We were not prepared for what awaited us on the fifteen minute walk to the clinic. I held my skirt up and paid attention to each step as I walked over the visible waste that was part of our path. I watched in shock as I saw residents dumping waste from buckets into the crowded street/sewage system.  I had never seen anything like this.

Some people ignored us, some people greeted us, some shook our hands, others just stared.  It was as if we were walking down a street back home, but it was also very different at the same time.

I felt sure that the only pale-skinned people they had encountered had been what are known as “do-gooders,” either trying to bring the message of God or telling them how to live a cleaner life.

We were doing neither. 

We were there to observe, to learn and absorb the current state there. 

 As soon as the kids spotted us, they shouted loudly and often – “How are you?  How are you?”  If we answered them, “I am fine!” they would laugh; delighted to hear English spoken from a native English-speaker.

It was the children who changed the course of my morning.  They were happy, and smiling.  It was hard for me to believe that children in this type of squalor would be able to smile.  And yet, here they were, as polite as can be, greeting strangers into their neighborhood.

The children in the slums were all smiles.  But, how?  Perhaps, because they are alive, most of them probably have parents, they probably have a place to live, and they just enough food to survive.

It could also be because they don’t know any better. We could attribute their happiness to the innocence of the child’s mind. They are not yet aware of the “reality” in Kibera.

What is that reality?

Although 1.5 million people live in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, the largest slum in Africa, Kenya’s government does not acknowledge its existence. The government contends that the massive population is illegally squatting on government land, and thus refuses to provide infrastructure: schools, hospitals, or sanitation. Women are left especially devastated in Kibera as men control existing scarce resources. In Kenya, 33% of women trade sex to survive by 16; in Kibera, 66% of girls trade sex for food as early as 6. Women in Kibera contract HIV at a rate 5 times their male counterparts: Kibera has one of the world’s highest HIV rates. Only 8% of women ever attend school. 1 of 5 children do not live to see a 5th birthday. 7 of 10 women will experience violence. No statistic ultimately captures the severity of Kibera’s human crisis. 

There are many members of my generation and younger that take many things for granted.  When their iPod breaks, they get very upset.  It could possibly mean the end of the world – until they get a new one. Maybe, just maybe, if they spent a day with happy children, children who have less “stuff” but just as many things to be happy about, they would get a little tug on their heartstrings.  Maybe it would put things into perspective. Maybe.

I can’t say that my life has turned upside down after visiting the slums of Kibera.  However, I can say that my life has changed in many seemingly insignificant ways. 

This month, I start my first year as a high school teacher, and I have already written lesson plans that revolve around my experience in Kibera. 

I am grateful that my mom, Pam Prather, and her boss, Murali Bashyam, let us tag along on their trip to Africa. I have told others of my experience, in the hopes that they will be inspired to visit.  I have started looking at children differently – where does consumerism begin and creativity end?  The most important end I hope to achieve is the education of my students; education about other cultures and other people. 

That is something that we all need to be aware of.

Bashyam Spiro LLP Delivers Informative Immigration Content By Launching Online Multimedia Library

August 6th, 2010
posted by at 6:04 pm

As industry leaders in Immigration and Nationality Law, we aim to provide you with accurate and timely information on immigration trends, news and issues as well as answering long-asked questions about the immigration process.

Since the spring, the firm’s attorneys, Murali Bashyam and Ame Coats, have been hosting a series of interactive Webinars to answer common immigration law questions and address topics from the basic immigration process to immigration news and legislation.

With the growing demand for multimedia content such as podcasts and video, we recently created a Media Library page on our website which houses all of our past Webinars, Podcasts, “Immigration Minute” series video and client testimonials.

Bashyam Spiro LLP - Media Library

To see what’s coming up in our Webinar series or for the latest immigration news visit our news page.

Trail of Dreams, Stops in Raleigh

April 21st, 2010
posted by at 2:11 pm

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of inspirational immigrant students who made a stop in North Carolina on their 1,500 mile trip from Miami, FL to Washington, D.C. by foot as part of the “Trail of Dreams” initiative to demand just and smart immigration reform.  The event was sponsored by UnitingNC (www.unitingnc.org), an organization with a mission to foster rational dialogue between immigrants and others in the community.

North Carolina, like other southern states, has seen a significant increase in deportations, workplace raids, and barriers to higher education for immigrant students. Furthermore, Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which authorizes the Federal Government to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to perform immigration law enforcement functions, has created fear amongst aliens who lack a valid immigration status.  This often causes illegal aliens to fail to report crimes to local law enforcement for fear of deportation.

These students spoke openly and candidly to me, public safety representatives and others interested community members about the challenges that these students and the 12 million undocumented aliens in the United States face each day and the hope that they have for the future.  These students, some of whom are undocumented, are no different than any of us.  They are good, hard-working, and kind people.  The only difference is a status based on law.  In the history of our great country, there have been bad laws related to women’s voting rights and segregation, to name a few, and those laws have been changed.  Gaby, one of the students, pointed out that we need to do the same thing with our immigration laws.

During their visit they showed an inspirational video that I feel is certainly worth sharing:

For more information and biographies on the Dream Walkers visit: www.trail2010.org

Pledge for March for America

March 22nd, 2010
posted by at 3:55 pm

On Sunday, thousands of diverse groups from across the nation marched on the National Mall in Washington D.C., peacefully, calling for immigration reform. 

During the past few weeks, various ethnic and advocacy groups across the U.S. have promoted fundraising efforts to help people get to Washington, D.C., for the immigration reform rally.

A similar call for action happened right here in North Carolina, where the state’s Spanish-language media network, Que Pasa, called for the public’s support through their radio airwaves to sponsor additional buses, food and water for community members wishing to take the ride up to D.C. for Sunday’s march.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the area known as the “research triangle” is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, with a growth rate of 4.3 in 2008. And, part of the growth is due to immigrants choosing this area to settle down: almost 35 percent of immigrants in North Carolina came to the United States after the year 2000. 

Ethnic media outlets, like Que Pasa, have been keeping a watchful eye on the changes in North Carolina’s immigration issues, which have become an important topic for the Hispanic community in light of the state’s clamp down on undocumented immigrants. 

Que Pasa newspaper’s print and online editions run the “Buzon del Inmigrante” -The Immigrant’s Mailbox – where readers can write in with immigration-related questions.

We recently built a partnership with the Spanish-language news network to provide immigration education and information to the state’s Hispanic community, so when I received a call from Que Pasa’s account executive, Josie Aronson, requesting Bashyam Spiro’s pledge of support for Sunday’s march, I knew that we would want to contribute our own “granito de sal” (grain of salt). Our managing partner, Murali Bashaym immediately agreed to pledge to the cause.

The media company had personally sponsored 6 buses. But with the support of local businesses, like us, and individuals in the community, they were able to add 6 additional buses to their caravan to the nation’s Capitol in just 24 hours!

Our firm was unable to attend the historical event at Washington’s National Mall, but as an immigration law firm we know that the topic of immigration is widely misunderstood in America, which causes unnecessary conflict where none should exist.

I worked as immigration caseworker for a U.S. Congressman several years ago and have since had an interest the immigration system and learned just how much it is in need of a “face lift.” While I did not go through the immigration system, I grew up in Puerto Rico and my grandparents came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, Italy and the U.K.

Our managing partner, Murali Bashyam, has been an immigration lawyer for over 14 years, and represents many immigrants in North Carolina and across the United States.  He too is an immigrant.  His parents are from India and he was born in Canada.  He is passionate about the topic of immigration for many reasons, one of which has to do with the wonderful people we meet through our work. 

That’s why we are committed to supporting events like yesterday’s march, as well as, initiating conversations through the media and within the community that will hopefully result in mutual understanding among immigrants, U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

Is that Big Foot? No, It's Bashyam Spiro.

March 11th, 2010
posted by at 8:00 pm

As a long-time media professional I find it difficult to imagine working without the internet and without an online presence. I am always amazed by businesses and professionals that have no desire to make any semblance of a digital footprint. I wonder how they will ever survive.

Yes, it sounds a bit dramatic but the easy versatility of the web, has made other mediums almost obsolete and any business or professional with a desire to grow and succeed must become part of the digital revolution in order to complete in any field and any market.

When I interviewed for a job with Bashyam Spiro late last year, I was so impressed to see that the firm had already made a significant online footprint. I was excited to become a part of that growth and once I jumped onboard we began working on ways to further expand that presence through other online media tools.

During the couple of months since I’ve been onboard we’ve gone beyond the firm website, e-newsletter and Facebook fan page to expand our Twitter interactivity, build a new, more personal, staff blog, and sign on to LinkedIn and JD Supra.

I’m also able to use my creative streak and video production background to produce regular educational video segments that we call the “Immigration Minute,” to educate folks on immigration benefits, news and information in a useful and comprehensive way.

Our very own Bashyam Spiro You Tube Channel takes our community outreach and educational efforts to the next by enabling the free viral online sharing of immigration themed, informational video segments, in both English and Spanish, for consumption by colleagues, clients and prospective clients.

With the constant evolution of Web 2.0. one never knows where you may see Bashyam Spiro’s digital footprint popping up next…