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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Disabled Immigration Detainees Face Deportation

New York Times: For lawyers offering free legal information at large immigration detention centers in remote parts of Texas, the task is difficult enough: coaching hundreds of detainees on how to represent themselves at assembly-line deportation hearings. But the lawyers soon discover a more daunting problem: many detainees are too mentally ill or mentally disabled to understand anything. The detainees, mostly apprehended in New York and other Northeastern cities, some right from mental hospitals, have often been moved to Texas without medication or medical records, far from relatives and mental health workers who know their histories. Their mental incompetence is routinely ignored by immigration judges and deportation officers, who are under pressure to handle rising caseloads and meet government quotas. These are among the findings of a yearlong examination of the way the nation’s immigration detention system handles the mentally disabled in Texas, where 29 percent of all detainees are held while the government tries to deport them. The study, conducted by Texas Appleseed, a public interest law center, and Akin Gump, a corporate law firm, documents mistreatment at every stage of the process.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Supreme Court to Review Immigration Law That Favors Children of U.S. Mothers, over U.S. Fathers

Los Angeles Times: Now, the Supreme Court is entering a curious corner of U.S. immigration law that applies only to children born outside the U.S. to one parent who is an American and one who is not. The law makes it easier for children whose mother is a citizen to become citizens themselves. Even after reform legislation in 1986, children of American fathers face higher hurdles claiming citizenship for themselves. The justices agreed Monday to hear Flores-Villar’s appeal of his criminal conviction and consider whether a provision of immigration law unfairly discriminates on the basis of gender.

Attorney: Mumbai Widow's Time in U.S. Restricted

Associated Press: (AP): Frumet Teitelbaum lost her husband in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Now she may not be able to see her kids. Teitelbaum, 37, was stopped at Kennedy International Airport last month after arriving from Israel, where she lives. She had come to visit her eight children, ages 2 to 14. All are American citizens and live with her late husband’s family in Brooklyn. Now Teitelbaum, who was cited for overusing her visitor’s visa, cannot extend her visit or apply for permanent residence, said her attorney Michael Wildes. She is in New York and he, along with government and community leaders, are working to make sure she remains here. "We're very disappointed she was treated this way," said Wildes, adding that he faced similar challenges when representing surviving spouses from the 9/11 attacks. "She broke down in tears at the airport."

Former Homeland Security Official Convicted in Immigration Case

Boston Globe: A former official for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was convicted today of encouraging her illegal immigrant housekeeper to remain in the country. The verdict came more than a year after Lorraine Henderson, 52, was arrested on a federal charge and suspended without pay from her $140,000-a-year job as Boston port director for Customs and Border Protection. After the verdict, Henderson left the courthouse in the company of about 10 family and friends. "I'm stunned,"' she said, before declining further comment. Her attorney, Francis J. DiMento, was equally succinct. "I'm sick," he said. On the stand last week, Henderson told jurors that she did not believe she had done anything wrong.

Monday, March 22, 2010

At Rally, Call for Urgency on Immigration Reform

New York Times: Tens of thousands of immigrants and activists rallied here on Sunday, calling for legislation this year to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants and seeking to pressure President Obama to keep working on the contentious issue once the health care debate is behind him. The rally brought the return to major street action by immigration activists, who turned out hundreds of thousands of protesters in marches and rallies in 2006. After an immigration overhaul measure was defeated in Congress in 2007, the pace of enforcement raids picked up and many immigrants, especially those without legal status, preferred to lay low.

GOP Senator: Healthcare Bill May Cost Immigration Overhaul

The Los Angeles Times reported: The lone Republican senator inclined to support the Obama administration’s bid to pass a major immigration overhaul said Friday that if a healthcare bill passes this weekend, the immigration effort is dead for the year. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is considered a crucial player in the immigration debate – a Republican prepared to cross party lines and vote for a bill that would provide a path to legal status for the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally. But Graham’s support has never been a sure thing. In recent days, he had made it clear that he was unhappy about the procedures Democrats are using to push the healthcare bill to a vote. "If the healthcare bill goes through this weekend, that will, in my view, pretty much kill any chance of immigration reform passing the Senate this year," Graham said Friday, two days before thousands are expected to march in Washington in support of an immigration overhaul. Neither Schumer nor the White House would comment on Graham’s statement.

In Nebraska, Issues of Immigration and Abortion Collide

Los Angeles Times reported: So two viewpoints collided with this question: Should Nebraska pay for prenatal care for the unborn children of illegal immigrants? For many, the answer is an unqualified yes. "We don't accept that borders should be put ahead of babies," said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life. But others say that people in the country illegally should not reap state benefits. A bill that would have made prenatal care available for illegal immigrants was withdrawn last week in the Legislature.

Dad May Lose Adopted Guatemalan Child to Absurd Immigration Law That Denies Her Legal Residency

New York Daily News: "I am the father of a beautiful 9-year-old undocumented child and the pain of a future deportation of my daughter is getting unbearable for my wife and me. As Christians we pray everyday to God for the immigration authorities not to come and knock on our front door. Our constant state of anxiety about our daughter’s future is destroying our lives. As an angel of God, she has a right to remain in this country." That's how Joseph Collar, 63, began the letter he sent two weeks ago to the President and vice president, as well as to Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer. "They haven't answered me yet," he said in despair.

Is Immigration Reform a Biblical Imperative?

USA Today: On Sunday, while Congress is voting on health care reform, tens of thousands of religious leaders and groups from across the belief spectrum will be among those gathering a few miles away to march on another issue whose supporters also cite biblical roots – immigration reform. Priests, ministers, rabbis, imams and other faith leaders from all over the USA will speak at an interfaith prayer service and rally on the National Mall as part of the "March for America: Change Takes Faith and Courage." Related events before the march include a Roman Catholic Mass in support of immigration reform celebrated that morning by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. On Monday, the marchers have meetings at the White House and with Congress.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Senators Draft Plan to Rework U.S. Immigration Policy

Washington Post: Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) announced the building blocks Thursday for a new push in Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, outlining a plan to require U.S. citizens and legal immigrants to obtain a new high-tech Social Security card tied to their fingerprints or other biometric identifiers and to create a system to bring in temporary workers as the U.S. economy demands. The immigration "blueprint," outlined in an opinion column posted on The Washington Post’s Web site, drew an immediate vow of support from President Obama, who urged Congress "to act at the earliest possible opportunity."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Farmers Demand Immigration Reform

Public Radio International (PRI) reports: Regelbrugge works for the American Nursery and Landscape Association. He's also become a champion for dairy operations that say they need immigrant workers to stay afloat even in a recession. He’s sat down with lawmakers and brought together agricultural producers in a united front. Regelbrugge spoke to a group of Wisconsin farmers in Madison recently. He said they want action from their Washington representatives. "The level of anxiety in the industry there and elsewhere is as high as I have seen it in my years working on this issue," he said. Dairy farmers say they want access to workers without getting in trouble. Many say they could go out of business without immigrant labor and consumers would likely end up paying more for milk.

Immigration Status of All Orange County Inmates Will Be Checked

Los Angeles Times: All inmates booked into Orange County jails will have their immigration status checked through a fingerprint identification program that started Tuesday. Orange County joins 11 other California counties -- including Los Angeles, San Diego and Ventura -- that have started checking the status of inmates against a federal database as part of a national program to identify and deport undocumented immigrants who land in jail. The program, started in late 2008, is in place in dozens of municipalities nationwide.

ACLU Questions DHS Arrest Statistics

Courthouse News reported: The Immigration and Homeland Security departments refuse to release public documents about mass arrests of alleged "criminal aliens" in the Imperial Valley. Immigration officials claim that 80 percent of the 286 people arrested in the 3-day "enforcement surge" had "prior convictions for serious or violent crimes," but the ACLU says it has reason to doubt that. The ACLU sued the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security in Federal Court, demanding documents on the 3-day roundup of immigrants in December 2009. "ICE’s enforcement operations ostensibly targeting ‘criminal aliens’ have historically resulted in a disproportionate number of arrests of individuals without any criminal records at all and of individuals with only minor criminal convictions," the ACLU says.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Immigration Offer Draws Few Haitians

New York Times: Within days of the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, the United States government declared that Haitians living illegally in the United States were eligible for temporary protected status, a special immigration designation that temporarily allows them to work here legally. While advocates and government officials alike said that this was one of the most effective ways to get help to needy quake victims, the number of applicants has fallen short of expectations. Two months after the earthquake, and a third of the way to the July deadline to file for the special status, just 34,427 of the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 undocumented Haitians who were in the United States before January 12 have applied, said the Department of Homeland Security. The protected status allows 18 months of legally working. Charitable groups blame the lag on the application fees, which total about $500. The average monthly amount that Haitians abroad send to relatives in Haiti — a pillar of the country’s economy — is just $150.

Labor Opposed to Immigration Deal

Washington Times: Sen. Lindsey Graham walked out of his immigration meeting with President Obama last week and said the president needs to pressure labor unions to accept a temporary-worker program as part of any bill. Less than a day later, the AFL-CIO said that was a no-go. Among all the other potential pitfalls, the divide over how to handle the future flow of foreign workers, which has bedeviled the immigration issue for years, once again threatens to halt any progress on immigration reform. "By taking this position, the AFL-CIO ends any realistic chance of legislation this year," U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Randel K. Johnson said this weekend, only deepening the rift between businesses and unions.

For a Pardoned Detainee, Released but Not Told Why, a Lonely, Happy Trip Home

New York Times: After four months locked in a New Jersey immigration jail facing deportation, Qing Hong Wu, 29, was told by guards to pack his things on Tuesday evening. Fearing that he was being abruptly transferred to a detention center in Texas or Louisiana, like many detainees with families in New York City, Mr. Wu asked other inmates to try to alert his fiancée. Even as guards at the front desk told him to walk out of the Monmouth County Correctional Institute in Freehold, N.J., no one at the jail had told him why.

Undocumented Immigrants Offer U.S. a Shot of Optimism

CNN reported that: Despite all the talk about a tide of pessimism surging in our country, optimism isn’t dead. It’s just in hiding. The economy is struggling. The deficit is looming. Unemployment is hovering at about 10 percent. China is nipping at our heels for global economic dominance. Our housing, automotive and banking industries are on life support. The health care system is falling apart. Perhaps a little inspiration for that rebound in morale could be drawn from some of the least fortunate among us. Because when we look at the attitude and determination of undocumented immigrants, it's easy to see that optimism isn’t dead. It’s simply living in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to step into the light. Despite these difficult circumstances, an overwhelming 74 percent said that if they had to choose again, they would still come to the United States. Eighty-seven percent said they believe America is special compared with other countries. And 71 percent said America is special because it gives people the opportunity to do better. Sounds pretty optimistic, right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bill to Remove Immigrant Children’s 5-Year Wait Sent to Study

Roll Call reported that: A bill that would grant eligible legal immigrant children speedier access to low-income health care was resurrected in the Senate floor Tuesday after being voted down Monday – but will be sent to interim study for the next year. "It's important that we keep discussing this bill and hopefully next year have funding to pay for their health care coverage," sponsoring Sen. Luz Robles said. SB44 would have removed a five-year waiting period for legal permanent resident children to apply for Medicaid or Utah's Children’'s Health Insurance Program. About 800 children would be eligible at an estimated state cost of $384,500, with a federal match bringing nearly $1.5 million.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I.D. Card for Workers Is at Center of Immigration Plan

Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers working to craft a new comprehensive immigration bill have settled on a way to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants: a national biometric identification card all American workers would eventually be required to obtain. Under the potentially controversial plan still taking shape in the Senate, all legal U.S. workers, including citizens and immigrants, would be issued an I.D. card with embedded information, such as fingerprints, to tie the card to the worker. The I.D. card plan is one of several steps advocates of an immigration overhaul are taking to address concerns that have defeated similar bills in the past.

E-Verify: 'E' is for Error

The Los Angeles Times reports: To think that for all these years, we were wrong about E-Verify, the government background check that tells employers whether their employees are authorized to work legally in the United States. We thought the reason to distrust the program was its tendency to get things wrong, ensnaring legal, permanent residents and citizens in red tape, halting their legitimate employment. Now it turns out that E-Verify is not misidentifying legitimate workers in troubling numbers but clearing undocumented immigrants.

Monday, March 08, 2010

President to Meet with Key Senators on Immigration

Associated Press: President Barack Obama plans to focus attention on immigration next week by meeting at the White House with two senators crafting a bill on the issue. White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro said Obama will meet with Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Monday. The president is "looking forward to hearing more about their efforts toward producing a bipartisan bill," Shapiro said Friday. The meeting will be the first Obama has had with Schumer and Graham on the proposal they are developing since they began focusing on it last year.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Court Says Immigration Judge Ignored Context

Courthouse News: The 2nd Circuit revived the political asylum case of a former Guatemalan police officer who claims his life is in danger for exposing corruption in the force. The immigration judge failed to consider the officer’s claims in the context of Guatemala’s "volatile political history," the appeals court ruled. Milton Ronaldo Rodas Castro claimed he faced death threats after reporting drug trafficking in his force to a U.N. human rights group. Rodas was allegedly suspended from the force in 2001 for reporting that fellow officers bought and sold cocaine from a dealer they had been sent to investigate.

Obama Looking to Give New Life to Immigration Reform

The Los Angeles Times reporting from Washington: Despite steep odds, the White House has discussed prospects for reviving a major overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, a commitment that President Obama has postponed once already. Obama took up the issue privately with his staff Monday in a bid to advance a bill through Congress before lawmakers become too distracted by approaching midterm elections. In the session, Obama and members of his Domestic Policy Council outlined ways to resuscitate the effort in a White House meeting with two senators – Democrat Charles E. Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – who have spent months trying to craft a bill. According to a person familiar with the meeting, the White House may ask Schumer and Graham to at least produce a blueprint that could be turned into legislative language.

Courting Latino Candidates: A Smart Move For the GOP

Texas GOP Vote reported that: According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, high ranking Republicans are starting to tone down harsh rhetoric toward immigration and trying to recruit more Latino candidates in "response to the party’s soul-searching about tactics that many strategists believe have alienated the country’s fastest-growing voter bloc." George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has founded a political action committee that promotes Hispanics for state and local offices called Hispanic Republicans of Texas. Furthermore, Georgia Representative Tom Price, who was once a strong opponent of working to find a sensible immigration policy, has recently made a "Lou Dobbs-like" transition and has been meeting with Hispanic leaders to find a new tone – one that will not turn away the conservative Hispanics. Such actions can carry risks for Republicans, however, as some people see any sort of appraoch to sensible immigration as amnesty, when this is not the case.

Feds: Student Visa Fraud Ring Found at Florida School

Associated Press: A Florida language school helped illegally obtain student visas for foreign nationals who never went to class, violating laws enacted after the September 11 terrorist attacks exposed weaknesses in the program, authorities said Thursday. Eighty-one student visa holders purportedly studying at the Florida Language Institute have been arrested. None was on any federal watch list or linked to terrorism, U.S. authorities said, though investigators were checking their backgrounds.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Family Facing Deportation Breakup Wins Reprieve

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that: A San Francisco bus driver's wife and two stepsons, who faced deportation to Australia this week after a schoolyard fight and a city crackdown thwarted their attempt to win legal status, won a reprieve from federal authorities Wednesday. Immigration officials had ordered Tracey Washington and her sons, ages 13 and 5, to leave the United States by Friday because they remained here after their visa waivers expired in May. The family and their lawyer brought the case to public attention in a news conference this week. On Wednesday, officials said they would give the Washingtons at least 60 days to resolve their situation.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

No Chance of Immigration Reform This Year

San Jose Mercury News: Every poll shows there are few things California's burgeoning Latino community wants more from government this year than immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for persons now in this country illegally, also known as amnesty. But despite happy talk from President Obama and some other leading Democrats, chances of this happening are very slim. For Democrats who now possess large but shaky majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House are not nearly as united on this cause as they are on health care — and their brand of unity on that cause has produced nothing close to what Obama promised as a candidate in 2008. Why would Democrats bother keeping on talking about various combinations of immigration amnesty and tougher border and employment enforcement when they know it won't pass?

Arizona May Criminalize Presence of Illegal Immigrants

The Associated Press reported that: Over the past several years, immigration hard-liners at the Arizona Legislature persuaded their colleagues to criminalize the presence of illegal border-crossers in the state and ban soft immigration policies in police agencies — only to be thwarted by vetoes from a Democratic governor. This year, their prospects have improved. A proposal to draw local police deeper into the fight against illegal immigration has momentum, and even opponents expect the new Republican governor to sign off on the changes. The proposal would make Arizona the only state to criminalize the presence of illegal immigrants through an expansion of its trespassing law. It also would require police to try to determine people's immigration status when there's reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.

DHS Fails to Meet Target Immigration Goals

Homeland Security Today: More than one year into the administration of President Barack Obama, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) still must pursue some key changes in support of immigration reform to embrace Obama’s intended immigration policy objectives, a policy group said Tuesday. DHS must move forward in due process for illegal immigrants by creating an ombudsman at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to investigate complaints and keep its focus on detention reform at ICE, recommended the Immigration Policy Center in its report, The Challenge of Reform: An Analysis of Immigration Policy in the First Year of the Obama Administration.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Editorial: Reform, on Ice

New York Times: President Obama gave immigration reform only one vague sentence in his State of the Union address. Despite that, and the poisonous stalemate on Capitol Hill, the White House and Democratic Congressional leaders insist that they are still committed to presenting a comprehensive reform bill this year — one that would clamp down on the border and workplace, streamline legal immigration and bring 12 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows. The country needs to confront the issue, to lift the fear that pervades immigrant communities, to better harness the energy of immigrant workers, to protect American workers from off-the-books competition. What’s been happening as the endless wait for reform drags on has been ugly.