Rome attorney from Brazil: Immigration not all bad
Daniele Tedesco, a U.S. citizen of 10 years, speaks to the Exchange Club about the basics of immigration and the necessity to humanize the often controversial debate.
When it comes to talking about immigration, everyone, especially TV pundits, has an opinion but no idea what they’re talking about, said Rome attorney Daniele Tedesco.
Tedesco, who focuses on immigration law, laid out the groundwork for what people need to think about when immigration comes up. She said immigration is one of the most complex areas of law, up there with estate planning and taxes, and is a central piece of what it is to be American.
“It’s a daily learning experience,” she told Exchange Club of Rome members on Friday. “Immigration is not a bad thing. Think about your family history.
“We need new blood — the people with that grit,” she continued, adding that this is central to America being competitive by utilizing others’ talent to design, manufacture and create.
A native of Brazil, Tedesco came to the United States in April 2001, becoming a citizen in October 2007.
She has been a practicing attorney in Rome since 2009.
“I am from Brazil, so I have a true Southern accent,” she joked.
There are two major categories of visas: a nonimmigrant visa, which is temporary, and an immigrant visa — which is known as a green card because the card is literally green. Not a very creative name, Tedesco laughed. Nonimmigrant visas are for foreigners coming to the states for an event, conference or to study — it doesn’t permit them to work.
The H1B visa is extremely competitive, Tedesco explained, as there are only 44,000 a year granted and companies struggle to get these to bring talented and skilled workers from other areas of the world to come and work for them.
Over 100,000 people are all pushing to get one of these visas, and companies lose money in attorney and processing fees when they may not actually be able to get the person they want in the U.S. to work or be trained.
Due to the limited amount of these visas, IBM, a multinational technology company, got fed up with the process and lobbied Congress to create an L-1B visa. This visa opened up a new category, where companies could transfer an employee from abroad and train them in the U.S.
“These are for your top dogs,” said Tedesco, such as top managers, executives or someone with great value and potential.
An O visa is for people with extraordinary ability, Tedesco continued, for those who are gifted. An example is a scientist who is widely recognized and has had their work published in a number of top scientific journals.
Many people come to the U.S. to study and want to stay here after graduating, Tedesco said. Businesses want to hire these people and keep them in America, so they sponsor them for green cards.
Asylum is another piece of immigration. If an individual or a group of people have been persecuted
by their government due to their religion, beliefs or criticism of those in power, they can flee their country and apply for refugee status.
Tedesco took aim at the media for throwing out the facts and only offering opinion and bias in the immigration debate.
“It drives me insane,” she said, adding that there seems to be a preference on entertainment over actual news.
Tedesco also offered her take on President Donald Trump, who has unveiled travel restrictions on foreigners from Chad, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, as a response to legal challenges to the travel ban he signed earlier this year, along with insisting on the construction of a formidable wall on the border with Mexico.
“Just pray for the president,” she said. “If anyone needs wisdom, this guy does.”
There are certainly issues with the government’s ability to properly screen foreigners from certain countries, as access to accurate databases to verify they are who they say they are not always readily available or have been completely destroyed, Tedesco said. It’s hard to do something until a better screening process has been found, she added.
Tedesco did point to Trump’s decision on phasing out DACA — deferred action for childhood arrivals — and leaving it on Congress to decide its fate instead of completely wiping it out as one that contrasted with some of the criticisms and finger pointing he has made regarding immigration.
“Nothing with immigration is certain,” she said. “You cannot make the children pay for the sins of the parents.”
DACA, along with the DREAM — development, relief and education for alien minors — Act, are temporary fixes.
“DACA is the BandAid and the DREAM Act is the stitches,” she said, adding that these actions tend to leave young people in limbo in regards to their immigration status. “The wound is deep.”
Tedesco said many people think that as an immigration lawyer, she wants everyone to come in. That’s not the case though.
“You have to have a say in who enters your country,” she said.
She exemplified the issue by saying she has the power to decide who can and cannot enter her home, and she may not allow everyone in, depending on the circumstances.
To conclude her talk, Tedesco attempted to instill in the audience the essence of who Americans are.
“We’re supposed to help, that’s who we are,” she said. “We are fundamentally good because we know our neighbor.”
She called on them to approach each issue with common sense and to remember the decisions that are made are affecting other humans.
“At the end of the day it will affect everybody,” she said.
Spencer Lahr / Rome News-Tribune
Rome attorney Daniele Tedesco speaks to Exchange Club of Rome members about immigration during a recent meeting in The Palladium at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds.