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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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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Asylum Law Offers Little Refuge for Those Who Flee Gangs

New York Times: “I’ve done about a hundred cases of Salvadoran males who refused to join gangs,” said Roy Petty, an immigration lawyer in Missouri who represented Mr. Zaldívar. “I have to tell them you are probably going to lose. The immigration system did not believe these people were really in danger.” In general, legal standards for asylum in the United States are not easy to meet. Asylum seekers must show they have a “well-founded fear of persecution” because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or “membership in a particular social group.” Congress keeps a tight lid on the number of refugees admitted, with the limit currently set at 80,000 a year. As the immigration debate becomes increasingly polarized, there is little interest among politicians or the public in raising that limit.

EDITORIAL: They Pushed Back

New York Times: A decision by the federal government to grant special visas to about 150 Indian metalworkers is the most encouraging news yet in a case that has cast a harsh light on the dark side of legal immigration. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, has concluded that the workers, part of a group of 500 men recruited to work in Gulf Coast shipyards after Hurricane Katrina, had been subject to involuntary servitude and were entitled to visas set aside for victims of human trafficking. The decision is remarkable because the case — a federal lawsuit and investigations by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security — involves accusations that officials with another agency at homeland security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, helped the company silence workers’ complaints.

Thousands of Young Illegal Immigrants Were Brought to the U.S. as Children and Have Gone on to College

Proposed legislation would grant them legal status, even as more of them face removal.

Los Angeles Times: Early one morning in March, two Chicago-area brothers were dozing on an Amtrak train when it stopped in Buffalo, N.Y. A pair of uniformed Border Patrol agents made their way through the car, asking passengers if they were U.S. citizens. No, the vacationing siblings answered honestly, with flat, Midwestern inflections: We're citizens of Mexico. And so it was that college students Carlos Robles, 20, and his brother Rafael, 19 — both former captains of their high school varsity tennis team — found themselves in jail, facing deportation. Their secret was out: Despite their upbringing in middle America, their academic success and their network of native-born friends, they had no permission to be in the United States. Their parents had brought them here illegally as children. The Robles brothers, now out of jail but fighting removal in Immigration Court, are among thousands of young illegal immigrants in similar situations, living at risk of being expelled to countries they barely remember.

Huge Demand to Live in U.S. Part of Illegal Immigration Problem

Arizona Republic reported that: While the national spotlight is focused on illegal immigration, millions of people enter the United States legally each year on both a temporary and permanent basis. But the demand to immigrate to the United States far outweighs the number of people that immigration laws allow to move here legally. Wait times can be years, compounding the problem and reducing opportunities for many more who desperately want to come to the United States. In 2009 alone, more than 1.1 million people, including nearly 21,000 living in Arizona, became legal permanent residents, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's 2009 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. The largest single group of new permanent residents nationwide, 15 percent, was born in Mexico. Six percent came from China and 5 percent came from the Philippines.

Obama Administration Poised to Challenge Arizona Immigration Law

The White House is expected to file a lawsuit next week. Arizona has raised more than $120,000 in private donations to defend the legislation.

L.A. Times reported that: A White House showdown with the state of Arizona over its tough new immigration law is likely to unfold next week, when the Obama administration is expected to file a lawsuit aimed at blocking the state's bid to curb illegal immigration on its own, according to people familiar with the administration's plans. Arizona officials are girding for the legal challenge. The state has raised $123,000 in private donations to defend the law, according to Gov. Jan Brewer's office. Money has come in from all 50 states, in donations as little as $1. Obama administration officials declined to reveal the basis for the suit. But legal experts say the challenge is likely to include the argument that in passing the law, Arizona violated the Constitution by intruding on the federal government's authority to regulate immigration.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Massachusetts: Immigrant Crackdown Is Eased

New York Times: A crackdown on illegal immigrants, passed by the State Senate last month, has been scaled back. The House and the Senate on Thursday approved a less stringent version of the contentious plan, which would have required the state attorney general to set up a hot line for residents to anonymously report businesses suspected of hiring illegal immigrants. The compromise plan, adopted as an amendment to the state budget, only codifies existing state policies. But as part of sweeping budget cuts, the legislature also eliminated health care coverage for thousands of legal immigrants.

Sick Detained Immigrant to Appeal to U.N. for Help

New York Times: A 61-year-old Jamaican man who spent three decades working in New York is likely to die of medical neglect in a Louisiana immigration detention center unless the United Nations intervenes, says an urgent petition that his advocates plan to submit to the international organization on Friday. The unusual petition is a last-ditch effort to win the release of the ailing man, Carlyle Leslie Owen Dale, a legal permanent resident who has been held for deportation for more than five years as his court appeals languished and his health sharply declined from diabetes, chronic asthma, liver disease, severe arthritis and high blood pressure. On Thursday afternoon, his advocates at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago learned of a new development that added weight to their argument that his detention was arbitrary and unjustified: The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had overruled Mr. Dale’s deportation order, finding that the Board of Immigration Appeals had wrongly concluded that his 2000 conviction for attempted assault made him deportable as an “aggravated felon.” The court sent the case back to the board for a new decision.

NYC Mayor, Major CEO's Lobby for Immigration Reform

Associated Press reported that: Chief executives of several major corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Disney and News Corp., are joining Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form a coalition advocating for immigration reform — including a path to legal status for all undocumented immigrants now in the United States. The group includes several other big-city mayors and calls itself the Partnership for a New American Economy. It seeks to reframe immigration reform as the solution to repairing and stimulating the economy.
Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp., appeared together Thursday on Fox News to discuss the effort. "We're just going to keep the pressure on the congressmen," Murdoch said. "I think we can show to the public the benefits of having migrants and the jobs that go with them."

Americans Divide On Beefing Up Border Security vs. Overhauling Immigration Laws

Associated Press reports: Securing the border remains the prerequisite for other immigration changes. That leaves on hold any decision on whether border security might be improved by forcing illegal immigrants to come forward, get background checks and comply with other rules in exchange for legal status. Also pushed aside is any consideration of whether more visas for temporary foreign workers would reduce illegal immigration and make better use of law enforcement resources. "Once we get the border secured, then we can support a lot of things," Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said earlier this month. "Until then, it's going to be very difficult." That sentiment is shared by Democrats and Republicans this election year. But border security is in the eye of the beholder. There's no agreed-on definition of what constitutes a secure border and no budget for how much more to spend to achieve it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Immigrant Families Leave Arizona and Tough New Law

Associated Press: As the women await their next customer in the rising heat of an Arizona morning, they talk quietly about food and clothes, about their children and husbands. They are best friends, all mothers who are viewed as pillars of parental support at the neighborhood elementary school. All three are illegal immigrants from Mexico. T hey're holding the garage sale to raise money to leave Arizona, like many others, and to escape the state's tough new law that cracks down on people just like them. Anecdotal evidence provided by schools and businesses in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods and by healthcare clinics suggest that sizable numbers are departing. Ignacio Rodriguez, associate director for the Phoenix Roman Catholic diocese's Office of Hispanic Ministries, said churches in the area are also seeing families leave. Priests are "seeing some people approach them and ask for a blessing because they're leaving the state to go back to their country of origin or another state," he said. "Unless they approach and ask for a sending-off blessing, we wouldn't have any idea they're leaving or why."

Mexico Challenges Arizona's Immigration Law

BBC reported that: Mexico has waded into a legal challenge to a new immigration law in the US state of Arizona. In papers submitted to a US federal court, the Mexican government argues that the law is unconstitutional and would damage bilateral relations. It says it is concerned that it could lead to unlawful discrimination against Mexican citizens. The law - which comes into force on 29 July - makes it a state crime to be in Arizona without immigration papers. It also requires police to question people about their immigration status, if officers suspect the person is in the US illegally, and if they have stopped them for a legitimate reason.

EDITORIAL: The High Cost of Immigrating

New York Times: When it comes to America’s immigration bureaucracy, there is one thing that newcomers to the United States can count on: the fees have a way of going up. The Obama administration has announced plans to increase fees for immigration documents by about 10 percent. The director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Alejandro Mayorkas, says he needs to close a $200 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year. Because his agency is required by Congress to be almost entirely self-financed, the burden of raising the cash will be placed where it always is: on immigrant applicants. Under the proposal, they would have to pay $985 to apply for a green card, up from $930. The application for employment authorization would rise to $380 from $340. A separate fee for collecting fingerprints and other biometric data would increase to $85 from $80.

U. S. Mulls Less Jail-Like Immigrant Facilities

Associated Press: In an agreement U.S. immigration officials hope will begin to reshape the entire 30,000-bed detention system, some asylum-seekers and immigrants awaiting deportation proceedings could soon be held in facilities where they can wear their own clothes, participate in movie and bingo nights, eat continental breakfasts and celebrate holidays with visiting family members. It could end confinement in prison-like facilities — complete with razor wire, jail-style uniforms, armed guards and partitions that prevent physical contact with loved ones — for those who have never been convicted of a crime and are not considered a threat. Corrections Corporation of America, the largest contractor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has reached a preliminary agreement to soften confinement, free of charge, at nine immigrant facilities covering more than 7,100 beds — a deal that ICE officials see as a precursor to changes elsewhere.

Rhode Island: Government Remains a Plaintiff in Detainee Case

New York Times: A judge has denied the federal government's request to be dismissed from a lawsuit over the death of an immigration detainee in Central Falls. Hiu Lui Ng died of liver cancer in 2008 while in the custody of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility. A lawsuit filed by his widow accuses Wyatt staff of abusing and medically neglecting Mr. Ng, a Chinese computer engineer from New York who had been detained for overstaying a visa. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acknowledged that he was mistreated but argued that the government could not be held legally responsible for the actions of a contractor. The jail had contracted with the government to house immigration detainees, though that arrangement was canceled after Mr. Ng's death. Judge William Smith of Federal District Court denied the government's motion Monday, saying the lawsuit "paints a harrowing picture" of government negligence.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Immigration: What Would Reagan Do?

The Gipper repeatedly declared that openness to immigration represents a defining aspect of our national identity.


Wall Street Journal:
Anyone who retains a high opinion of Reagan, whom John McCain himself has described as one of his heroes, can hardly help wondering. In 1986, Reagan signed legislation granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Instead of denouncing the undocumented, Reagan invited them to become citizens. If Reagan was right then, isn't Sen. McCain wrong now? To attempt an answer, I've listed what we know for certain about my old boss and immigration. Then I've done my best to figure out what each item tells us about where Reagan would have stood on the issue today. What we know for certain, item one: Ronald Reagan was no kind of nativist. In a 1977 radio talk, for instance, Reagan dismissed "the illegal alien fuss," arguing that we need immigrant labor. "One thing is certain in this hungry world," he said. "No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters."

Arizona Bill Would Deny Citizenship to Children of Illegal Immigrants

CNN reported that: A proposed Arizona law would deny birth certificates to children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents. The bill comes on the heels of Arizona passing the nation's toughest immigration law. John Kavanagh, a Republican state representative from Arizona who supports the proposed law aimed at so-called "anchor babies," said that the concept does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution. "If you go back to the original intent of the drafters ... it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon (illegal) aliens," said Kavanagh, who also supported Senate Bill 1070 -- the law that gave Arizona authorities expanded immigration enforcement powers. Under federal law, children born in the United States are automatically granted citizenship, regardless of their parents' residency status.

Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples Possible?

San Francisco Chronicle: You're from the United States. You fall in love with a foreign national. Straight couples have legal recourse in this situation: get married and sponsor your spouse for citizenship. Gay couples in this situation have no legal recourse, an issue that SF Weekly recently highlighted with the stories of several same-sex couples who were separated by US immigration law, or had one partner living in the United States illegally. Because the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits legal recognition of same-sex relationships, couples married in California, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont can't sponsor their spouses for citizenship either. Democrats in the Senate have included a provision for same-sex couples in their immigration reform proposal released April 29, which will give them the same immigration rights as straight couples. The proposed legislation "will eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status," the provision says. House Democratic leaders on the immigration issue have also pledged to support same-sex couples in their legislation.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Green Cards and Other Immigration Benefits Face Fee Hikes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will raise fees an average 10% to help close a projected $200-million budget deficit. The cost of citizenship applications will not increase.

Los Angeles Times: The cost of obtaining a green card, business visa and other immigration benefits will increase an average 10% under a proposal announced Wednesday by federal immigration officials. But in a move hailed by immigrant advocates, officials decided not to propose fee hikes for citizenship applications, one of the largest and most politically popular categories of immigration benefits. Citizenship fees were increased by nearly 70% to $675 in 2007, which immigrant advocates say contributed to a sharp drop in the number of citizenship applications over the last two years. Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the proposed fee increases were needed to close a projected $200-million deficit for 2010-11. Budget cuts of $160 million were not enough to offset the gap between the agency's projected $2.1 billion revenue and $2.3 billion in expenses, he said Wednesday during a national teleconference.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Big Jump in Latino Registration for Democrats Unlikely to Turn Arizona Blue

According to USA Today: The number of Latinos registering to vote as Democrats in Arizona has jumped from 100 a week to 500 in the seven weeks since a tough new immigration law was adopted, The Arizona Republic reports. The newspaper says many of those registering are young Latino citizens whose parents may be undocumented. But, the newspaper says, the electoral impact may not be as great as in California after passage of a GOP-sponsored ballot initiative in 1994 to clamp down on illegal immigration by prohibiting undocumented people from receiving health care, public education and other services. But such a shift is less likely in Arizona, the newspaper notes, because the Latino vote is lower than in California and there are also fewer non-Hispanics with whom to ally to overturn the state's traditional conservative voting pattern. Arizona also does not have the large unions to help organize the Latino vote as in California, The Republic says.

Navajo Nation Council Opposes Arizona Immigration Law

News 9 reported: Lawmakers on the country's largest American Indian reservation have voted to formally oppose Arizona's tough new immigration law. The Navajo Nation Council voted against the immigration law Tuesday during a special session in Window Rock. Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay sponsored the measure. He says he sees the immigration law as an attempt to harass American Indians, who can resemble Mexican nationals. The state law requires police to question anyone they suspect is in the country illegally and makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally.

Hunger Strikes Used by Immigration Reform Advocates

ABC News reported that: "Just a few weeks after graduating from Columbia University, Yadira Alvarez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, is in her seventh day of a hunger strike in front of Senator Charles Schumer's Manhattan offices. She is one of a small group of young immigrants who are putting their health on the line, and for some of them, risking the unwanted attention of immigration authorities, in an effort to persuade the lawmaker to push a bill that could finally give some of them -- and many thousands of other young undocumented immigrants -- a path to legal status in this country. "We can't be spectators anymore," said Alvarez, 22, who came to the United States in 2000 under a tourist visa.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Los Angeles County Boycotts Arizona Over Immigration Law

Associated Press: Los Angeles County on Tuesday became the latest government body to boycott Arizona to protest the state's tough new law targeting illegal immigration. After a heated debate, the county's board of supervisors voted 3-2 to ban new contracts with Arizona-based companies and review those that could be canceled. The county has more than $26 million in contracts with Arizona companies this year. Several California cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, have passed similar measures. The Arizona law, set to go into effect July 29, requires police enforcing another law to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally. Supervisor Gloria Molina said the law "goes too far."

Groups Vow to Scrutinize Enforcement of Arizona Law

USA Today: When Arizona's new immigration law goes into effect next month, every immigration check performed by the state's 16,000 officers will be under a microscope. The law requires an officer to determine a person's immigration status if they are stopped, detained or arrested and there is "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally. Organizations, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, say they will be ready to sue immediately if they feel citizens were questioned improperly. To head off such issues, a group of a dozen people are poring through court opinions and researching identity documents to establish training for each of the state's police officers. Lyle Mann, director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, said each department will receive a video, handouts and a brochure that explains the basics of identity documents such as passports and green cards.

Detained Immigrants May Help Bring in Census Money

Associated Press: Paulo Sergio Alfaro-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant being held at a detention center in Washington state, had no idea that the federal government would count him in the census. No one gave him a census form. No one told him his information would be culled from the center's records. But counted he was, along with other illegal immigrants facing deportation in detention centers across the country — about 30,000 people on any given day, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement. By the time the census delivers the total tallies to the state and federal government, most of the immigrants will be long gone. But because the population snapshot determines the allocation of federal dollars, those in custody could help bring money to the towns, cities and counties in Texas, Arizona, Washington and Georgia where the country's biggest and newest facilities are located.

Voters Split on Arizona Law

Los Angeles Times: Views on the Illegal Immigrant Crackdown Diverge Sharply Based on Ethnicity and Age.

California voters are closely divided over the crackdown on illegal immigration in Arizona, with sharp splits along lines of ethnicity and age, according to a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll. Overall, 50% of registered voters surveyed said they support the law, which compels police to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, while 43% oppose it. That level of support is lower than polls have indicated nationwide. But attitudes among the state's voters are not uniform. Strong majorities of white voters and those over 50 support the Arizona law, while Latinos and those under 30 are heavily opposed. Arizona's adoption of the law in April stirred passions and protests across the nation, with cities, including Los Angeles, voting to boycott the state. The matter has turned into a pressure point in electoral battles, among them the Republican gubernatorial primary in California. But the poll shows that most voters, even those with ardent feelings about the measure, said they were unlikely to reject candidates based solely on their immigration stances.

Foes and Supporters of New Immigration Law Gather in Arizona

New York Times: Two sides of the immigration debate converged here Saturday: a throng of several thousand marching for five miles opposed to Arizona’s new immigration law, and several thousand nearly filling a nearby stadium in the evening in support of it. Organizers said the timing was coincidental, with both sides taking advantage of a holiday weekend to bring out the masses. But the gatherings encapsulated in a single day the passions surrounding the national immigration debate, recharged by the new law, which will expand the state’s role in immigration enforcement. Both demonstrations made a point of waving a large number of American flags and issuing pleas for a national overhaul of immigration law, but they offered a jarring study in how polarized the debate has become here. The demonstrators against the law were mostly Latino, with young people and families making up a large share. They played drums, whistled and chanted and gave speeches in Spanish and English denouncing the perceived racism behind the law. Many carried posters or wore T-shirts with the message: “Do I look illegal?”